Of 22 Games and a “True” Champion…

There’s been a patter of bluster since this foray into strategery. (Somehow, today is the day to use that word.) We’ve been stuck in the mode of: it makes wonderful sense to me, but what the hell do I know?

So I figured let’s take it to the coaches. They know. Here’s what each CAA coach had to say about playing a balanced, 22-game CAA slate in which you play every team twice, home-and-home.

It is important to note the context. I was able to access each coach through the conference’s weekly phoner with the media. Generally these calls focus on in-season goings-on, such as running down last week, previewing this week, and detailing injuries or whatever. Coaches like this because it allows them to remain near “one-game-at-a-time” mode while also providing a modicum of information and quotes.

Rare is the query that deals with philosophy, so this line of questioning was a curveball. I want to follow up in a less formal setting to get into more detail with each coach, as that is only fair. This issue is far more significant than sound bite reporting. (I even stumped Anthony Grant for a few seconds, the highlight of my season so far.)

Judge the quotes on their own merit, but keep that context in mind.

Note: everyone is represented except Matt Brady and Rod Barnes. Unfortunately I was pulled away from the call and missed the opportunity to ask those two.

BLAINE TAYLOR

“Please don’t take my comments as a criticism because it’s a hard nut to crack, but the unbalanced schedule doesn’t work out. You don’t know where the chips fall. Of the top four teams in the (current) standings we play them 8 times. VCU has Northeastern once at home and Mason once at home. They didn’t create that but it does make it an upside down deal. Every year you’re going to have that. I don’t know how you solve it.”

BILL COEN

“I guess there are pros and cons to both. When you play everybody you get a true champion. But the size of the league–22 conference games–is very, very tough. It limits your opportunity to get crucial RPI wins out of conference, limit games you can play to build conference RPI. From a logistical standpoint you’d get a true champion and everyone has an equal opportunity. (The system we have now), even with its warts you can dissect, it is the best it can be–but I’d be happy either way. You’ve just got to go out and play the games. If you’re the best team you overcome those hurdles.”

ANTHONY GRANT

“I don’t know. For us, the opportunity to play different teams and opponents (is important) and that would limit the opportunities we’d have to get a gauge of (our team). From my standpoint it is somewhat limiting but I understand the thought behind it. Personally I’d be more in favor of out of conference games.”

TOM PECORA

“I love the idea. It’s a fragile equation when you’re looking at the NIT taking the regular season champion. We’re fighting for one or two bids; it’s not the Big East where unbalanced isn’t going to kill you. It is important to get a true champion.”

TONY SHAVER

“I would support it.  It’s an extremely high number of conference games which makes you a little uncomfortable, but I’ve always felt a little inequity in the way we do it. It’s just difficult to say you have a regular season champ the way we do it now. It could have some impact on NCAA selections. I would favor it.”

BENNY MOSS

“Number one that would give us a lot of conference games and that doesn’t leave a whole lot of room with nonconference scheduling. If it were a (matter of) divisions versus playing everybody twice, I would play everybody twice. Even with our issues this year we’re still struggling to get home games.”

JIM LARRANAGA

I know I have a little different opinion and (it’s based on) my perspective of the overall goal of the CAA as a league. The thing the coaches talk about all the time is getting multiple teams into the NCAA tournament. In order to do that you have to build up your nonconference schedule. (A balanced schedule) would remove four nonconference games from the schedule, which would mean the nonconference schedule is not as strong in terms of RPI. From my perspective, and I think the league’s perspective, it’s important to play enough nonconference games to strengthen RPI.”

PAT KENNEDY

“I can start to understand, with the sense of a lot of stuff from finances to balance, the idea and conept of playing everybody could make a lot of sense. Scheduling is still difficult for all of us. Good games, good home games, anything like that could have a real possibility to it.”

MONTE ROSS

“I just think from a scheduling standpoint there are thnigs that have to be worked out. From a logistical standpoint it could be kind of difficult with the number of games. As long as you are fitting in games I have no problem.”

BRUISER FLINT

“I’ve always been an advocate of that. Unbalanced is a luck of the draw. Even when I was in the A10 I didn’t like it then and I don’t like it now. Even if we go to two divisions you still have the same thing home and away.”

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~ by mglitos on January 19, 2009.

4 Responses to “Of 22 Games and a “True” Champion…”

  1. It’s interesting to note that the three coaches most critical of the balanced schedule are the three coaches currently at the top of the CAA rankings.

    For them, perhaps, the unbalanced schedule presents the least amount of unfairness since they don’t have to play themselves.

  2. Litos, props to you for asking the question. The CAA has to realize that hte current system is rather unfair and they need to rectify it. I understand the concern about having 4 less nonconference games, but I think the RPI argument goes out the window when those four games are against MEAC schools.

    If you start a petition, I’ll be first in line to sign (although it sounds like I may have to fight Blaine for that spot.

  3. Interesting to see these responses. I’m curious to know what Rod Barnes and Matt Brady thought about the unbalanced schedule as well.

  4. I forgot to add last night that I’m interested in knowing what Barnes and Brady think, not just because they weren’t mentioned above. But also because they are relatively new coaches in the CAA – and may have experiences within different systems. Also because this question really goes to the goal of the CAA – and hearing their perspectives may give some insight to accomplishing that goal.

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