UPDATE 2:01 P.M.: The Superleague is official, and a press conference is coming Wednesday. Here's a joint release from the six (as of now) participating schools:
We are pleased to announce that six top NCAA Division I ice hockey programs will become founding members of a newly formed hockey conference, which will begin competition for the 2013-14 season. The six institutions are Colorado College, University of Denver, Miami University, University of Minnesota Duluth, University of Nebraska Omaha and University of North Dakota.The remainder from this point is the original post, which went up a couple hours before the joint release, so please don't get all judgmental on my dated statements.
We understand and appreciate the widespread interest in developments relating to the formation of the new hockey conference. More information will be provided about the initiatives that have been undertaken, as well as the next steps involved, at a news conference in Colorado Springs this Wednesday, July 13. Our programs look forward to continued associations with our current leagues, the WCHA and CCHA, for the next two seasons.
Additional information about Wednesday's news conference will be forthcoming in the next few days. There will be no further comment from athletic directors, coaches or other officials from any of the institutions until Wednesday's news conference.
One of my most difficult tasks in doing this blog is one that some might think is second nature - deciding when to post. From the beginning, I've tried to clearly define TYT as a Penn State hockey blog. Some people run high-level college hockey blogs and some run Penn State blogs covering all sports. And most of them do a great job of it. But I know myself, and I know I'd end up in a rubber room if I tried to obsess over anything broader than what I'm doing (and I'm pretty close as it is). So generally speaking, I avoid talking about things that aren't directly connected to my purpose for being in one way or another.
That said, and after my initial intent was a quick link in Three Stars on Monday, I decided that this story is big enough to qualify as an exception to the guidelines. And really, it's only a couple degrees removed from Penn State - after all, it wouldn't be happening without our entry into the world of NCAA hockey.
The story, of course, is that of the so-called Superleague (no, it won't really be called that when the dust settles): a collection of six hockey programs that, depending on your perspective are A) forming a weak imitation of the Big Ten, B) ushering in a brave new era of college hockey, C) hanging a bunch of long-standing programs out to dry and ruining college hockey, D) consolidating power among an elite group of schools that place hockey at the center of their athletic department or E) all of the above. E might be the best answer at this point, because really, it's impossible to say how it will end at this juncture.
All we know right now is that North Dakota, Miami, Colorado College, Denver, Nebraska-Omaha and Minnesota-Duluth reportedly are leaving the WCHA and CCHA to form their own conference, and that it may become official on Wednesday. Notre Dame has a standing invitation but is still considering their options, and Western Michigan's is probably about to be lost in the mail.
Let's start with the story that broke the story and proceed from there, Three Stars-style.
Sources: UND will leave WCHA for new league
(Grand Forks Herald)
While rumors and innuendo had been tossed around, really, since the formation of Big Ten hockey, this is the article that kicked everything into overdrive on Thursday. Read it and catch up with the rest of us.
As with the Big Ten, this is the sort of thing where everyone has an opinion. I've saved you the trouble of reading through and filtering the bad ones (note: there's a difference between "bad" and "I disagree with it").
Best of the Internet Opinions
Out of realignment, an opportunity for growth
Conference changes weaken the sport
USCHO took the approach of offering columns for and against the Superleague, and both worked - particularly because the authors were the Atlantic Hockey columnist and the Division III/Women's editor, presumably neutral parties.
Don't blame Big Ten for college hockey's upheaval
(Wisconsin State Journal)
Yes. Especially don't blame Penn State.
|Would schools like Guy Gadowsky's old Alaska program be better served facing off with mid-majors more often as conference rivals?|
College hockey's shifting will create opportunities
(Grand Forks Herald)
I tend to cast a suspicious eye towards those who, knowing their program is safely in a conference, argue the merits of current events (and yes I viewed those from the Big Ten - PSU included - arguing that the Big Ten is good for college hockey the same way). Most obnoxious of all are people from schools who were extremely fortunate to be invited.
However, it's hard to dispute anything said in this article, by the guy who originally broke the Superleague story. The "leftovers," if they're honest with themselves, know (or should know) that they have a better chance of competing, winning, and even being nationally relevant in a mid-major conference, if that's where this all ends up.
In the meantime, everyone in the Big Ten and Superleague - PSU included - did what was best for them. And there's absolutely nothing wrong with that. But for the time being, keep your mouths shut and quit acting like you did those not included a favor.
This is What You Want, This is What you Get
(College Hockey News)
...and your counterpoint. It's also tough to find fault with the view that college hockey is headed down the same road college football and basketball paved years ago. Is that good or bad? Your answer probably depends on the depth of your school's pockets.
Why the super-conference is horrible for NCAA hockey
The blog to which we all aspire takes the con position as well.
Secondary Six Linkorama
(Western College Hockey Blog)
Chris Dilks took his own crack at what I'm doing right now, and went both barrels at the WCHA's leadership (deservedly so). Of particular entertainment value was his observation of the bombshell's ripple effect on Cincinnati.com, which of course is Miami's market.
One thing that needs to be said: I think these six schools have an extremely inflated view of their value in the mainstream marketplace. There's a line from an old episode of House where a detective investigating Dr. House says to him "I think working around a bunch of nurses has given you a false sense of your ability to intimidate."
It's a line that can probably be applied to this situation as well. Do they run show in our little corner of the sports landscape? Absolutely. But out there in real life, they're a couple of branch campuses, a couple of schools that more often than not are confused for other schools and a couple more that at best inspire vague recognition. In a world where NBC/Versus only televises seven different NHL teams, that's important. So yeah, good luck getting them to trip over themselves to get into the lucrative Colorado Springs market with an amateur version of a sport that, even with recent successes, struggles for viewers on the professional level. Even Cincinnati, one of the bigger markets in the footprint, doesn't seem to care.
Notre Dame, obviously, changes things if they sign up. But Notre Dame's in a position where they can dictate their conference. So why would the Irish choose the Superleague over Hockey East and east coast markets like Boston? More to the point, why would a potential media partner?
|Jeff Blashill considered declining the Red Wings' offer, but then Mike Babcock did this.|
And what of Western Michigan, mentioned earlier? Increased commitment to their hockey program landed them rising star Jeff Blashill last offseason, and the payoff was their first NCAA tournament bid since 1996. Even one week ago, rumors generally included them in the select group of Superleague schools. Suddenly on Friday, Blashill resigned to become a Detroit Red Wings assistant and (because of it?) they're just as suddenly left to fend for themselves with the other CCHA and WCHA leftovers.
Bad week to be associated with the WMU program? No kidding.