Why Hofstra and the CAA Work…
Lots of speculation, innuendo, opinion, and fact flying around this spring about Hofstra and their future in the CAA. (In addition to message board banter, there are two newspaper items here and here.)
The gist: Hofstra is unhappy in the CAA and is looking to move somewhere. Nobody is quite sure where, which strikes me as funny, but the Pride must move. The side angles are many: the future of football at the school, conference bandying as you might expect, and athletic department motives. Beach covers it best.
Here’s why Hofstra belongs in the CAA, and why it should stay: you can quibble about the inadequacy of your special interest–no true rival or pro/con football–but when you factor everything into the equation, no better alternative than the CAA exists. And the grass is seldom greener, despite what you think.
The whole football argument is a red herring. Hofstra is going to make its own decision regarding football, but the CAA is the best option because (1) if you are playing 1AA football, this is the conference you want to have membership; (2) if you don’t want to play football, you can succeed in the CAA (see VCU, Mason, UNCW, and ODU before next year).
So no matter what Jack Hayes and Stuart Rabinowitz decide for football, Hofstra is covered. Football is not the deciding factor, nor is it the motivating factor.
That said, I’ve been fortunate to see up close the whole A10 thing play out for the University of Richmond. While you can argue its merits (and there is enough gray area to start a doozie of a sports bar discussion), it is unassailable that the move to the A10 has not been a rousing success.
Lots of miles to cover for non-revenue sports, lots of empty seats at hoops extravaganzas, and lots of contrived storylines (re: Rick Majerus!)
I don’t know that a move to the A10 would be all that beneficial for Hofstra. Yes, there are increased opportunities for the, and lets be honest–the A10 is a better basketball conference right now. But you have to win and win big in order to reap that benefit, because the margin is not as great for the middle strata of basketball programs.
A 22-10 in the A10 is no different than 22-10 in the CAA. If you didn’t beat four top 20 teams, you aren’t getting in. But 24-7 in the A10 is better than 24-7 in the CAA. All else being equal, you end up on the correct side of the bubble in the A10 much more easily.
But watching basketball at a Richmond home game is like church, only with a worse PA system. Nobody there really cares about St. Looie, St. Bonnie, Fordham, even Charlotte and St. Joe’s. They pretend Xavier and Dayton are big deals.
It is no fun and a constant grapple for the Spiders faithful, many of which are my friends. They miss VCU and JMU and the energy that comes with those games whether they will admit it or not. (Come on–we all remember the Electric Zoo, Lefty, and that midnight game, no?)
My point is that Hofstra fans complaining they have no natural rival in the southern-based CAA aren’t solving their problem with the East-of-the-Mississippi based A10. And so we’re clear–in no way am I saying a move to the A10 is bad; I just don’t believe it is all it is cracked up to be. It may be more of the same, just with a bigger travel budget.
And that begs the analysis: if you are traveling so much in all sports, and it is more difficult to win the conference championship in hoops, and there isn’t football to underwrite everything, are you really getting anything bigger and better?
That’s why I believe that while the CAA may not be a perfect fit for Hofstra, it is the best approximation.
Everybody seems to be looking around for something better, when I don’t know that anybody has said what is becoming obvious: “better” than the CAA doesn’t actually exist right now.