Monday, February 4, 2013

Scanning the SoCon- Week Fourteen

Each week, twelve bloggers/message boarders (one representing each team) all will vote on a Game of the Week and Power Rankings. At least four will answer a series of questions on their team and around the SoCon. Don't forget to check back Monday through Friday to read Daily Dribbles from around the SoCon here on MocsMania. Also, don’t forget to play SoCon Pick ‘Em!


 Appalachian State- Yosef's Cabin T-Dog
Chattanooga- Mocs Mania- JohnMoc
College of Charleston- King Kresse CougarSurf11
Davidson- Davidson Cats Message Board David Sink
Elon- Elon Pendulum Student Newspaper- Tyler Ash
Furman- The UFFP Message Board- SoConJohn
Georgia Southern- GSU Fans Message Board half-n-half
Samford- Samford Bulldogs Message Board AP
The Citadel- The Sports Arsenal- Sandlapper Spike
UNC-Greensboro- UNCG Basketball Fan DashSpartan
Western Carolina- Purple & Gold Jerry Love
Wofford- Terrier Fans Message Board


1) Davidson 132 (11)
2) College of Charleston 118
3) Elon 113
4) Samford 89
5) Appalachian State 84
6) Western Carolina 80
7) Georgia Southern 70
8) UNCG 51
9) Chattanooga 47
10) The Citadel 28
11) Furman 26
12) Wofford 12


College of Charleston at Samford- 3 votes

Others Receiving Votes:  Western Carolina at Georgia Southern (2), Appalachian State at Davidson (2), Western Carolina at Davidson (1), Appalachian State at Georgia Southern (1), Elon at Wofford (1), College of Charleston at Chattanooga (1)


If you had your pick, what would your strategy be for conference expansion?

Chattanooga- Personally, I would go to fourteen teams right now. I would pick up ETSU without hesitation and also Mercer. Those two would immediately benefit the basketball side of things. Yes, they would not be perfect fits in football, but very few top football programs are going to move just to get into the SoCon. If Richmond is interested, as there are rumors that they may, I would pick them up instantly. They help both the basketball and football conference. If Richmond is not interested, I’d take Kennesaw State, a growing sports program that may get some share in the Atlanta market.

Furman- I am for adding only teams that would benefit the Southern Conference on the gridirion side in the immediate...Each Division must have an even amount of teams, and with the College of Charleston leaving, I think the SoCon should add two teams to each division, which also benefit the SoCon as football-playing institutions. With the league having the potential of losing Georgia Southern and Appalachian State when the two leave, adding two replacements with football programs will allow the league to compensate later should they lose ASU and GSU. Then one basketball-only program should be added when ASU and GSU leave, making it even in both divisions. Twelve teams for basketball seems like the right number to me.

Potential Football and Basketball additions:
Coastal Carolina
Kennesaw State
Eastern Kentucky

Basketball Only
USC Upstate

Georgia Southern- As a Georgia Southern fan I have to answer this two different ways. One assuming that Georgia Southern is leaving the SoCon and the other assuming that Georgia Southern is staying. Assuming that Georgia Southern (and App St) does leave the SoCon then I like the three teams that the GSU AD floated around a couple weeks ago. Mercer, UNC-Wilmington, and Richmond would all make sense in a GSU and App less SoCon. They fit in with the schools like Davidson, Wofford, Furman, ect. I think at worst the SoCon would need to add 3 teams to replace the 3 that left. If GSU does stay in the SoCon then I would like to see Charleston replaced, but that would be it. GSU, App, and UTC are already outliers in the SoCon and it would only get worse if more small private schools are added.

Samford- In May, I discussed on the Samford board a strategy to seal off the CAA and pluck a few of its northern teams to surpass that league. Clearly, that ship has sailed. At this point, it will be difficult to find partners that make the SoCon a materially stronger league, but the SoCon needs to add three teams and there is one outstanding option: Belmont. It is an ideal geographic and cultural fit for the league, and would give the SoCon a presence in the momentarily-hottest city in America. Belmont has a competitive academic profile, great basketball program, high-APR athletic department, and would add the #29 television market in the country. While it will be difficult to get Belmont to leave the OVC after one year, it is in the best long-term interest of both Belmont and the SoCon to join up. Beyond that one immediate addition, the SoCon should look to add at least two football-playing members of the conference.

The Citadel- I have to look at this from a league perspective, but also from the point of view of The Citadel. First, I don't think it's necessary to add any teams until App/GSU are gone. The schools that have been identified as potential replacements for App/GSU/CofC aren't going anywhere. When App/GSU announce they have their Sun Belt invite, then I think the SoCon should add schools based on the interests of those remaining members. At least two of the new members need to have a scholarship football program (and accompanying SoCon-caliber stadium) by 2015.  My preference, as a supporter of The Citadel, is that Mercer and VMI be added as members. I would accept ETSU if there were no other alternatives available that would appeal to the remaining members, but only if ETSU guaranteed it would have not only a football program, but a new stadium by no later than 2015 (no more games in that horrific dome). I will add that if William & Mary were available, I would prefer that school as the third school (actually, I would prefer W&M to Mercer too). I do not think the league needs to expand beyond 12 members. I would not be in favor of Richmond as a football-only member unless the league ran out of acceptable options. Richmond as a full member would be great, but that's not happening. Coastal Carolina would be a non-starter. So would any of the other large state schools that have been bandied about (Kennesaw State, etc.).

Western Carolina- First I’d move immediately, with a goal of 14 members (add 3 now).  First I’d invite to ETSU to replace Charleston.  ETSU would get us back to 12 for basketball, and if they return football in 2015, that would give us another full football member in 2017.  I’d also invite Kennesaw State, this would keep us in the Atlanta market and Georgia in a large school with a large alumni base.  KSU will be adding football, and would probably be a full playing member by 2018.  My last invite would be Coastal Carolina, they are ready in football, basketball, and certainly baseball for Southern Conference competition.

The SoCon supposedly has had network TV offers. Many have expressed their interest in a TV deal for the SoCon. Would you approve of any network TV deal? Or do you have some network TV deal that you would not be interested?

Chattanooga- I think there are some TV deals that would not be a good deal. I want a TV deal for the SoCon as much as anyone, but I think they should only do it if they can expand their total coverage. I think coming up with a way to show more games on ESPN3 with one game on television each week. That would be ideal. I have no idea if that is even possible.

 Furman- ESPN3 is a good deal...The quality of the broadcast is better, and having it on TV only diminishes the product in my mind...The reason being is though it is nice to have on TV, the overall quality of a CSS or a Fox Sports South broadcast makes the SoCon look like amateurish.

Georgia Southern- If the SoCon has a chance to get a TV deal then I think it's a no brainer. One of the reasons GSU fans are excited about the potential move up is increased ability to watch GSU sporting events. Right now there aren't many SoCon games on TV and it's been decreasing the past few years.

Samford- I think the SoCon needs a traditional broadcast presence for now. Other members of the Samford board believe that—because the SoCon isn’t on traditional cable—it is projecting a small-time image. I believe it’s part of a successful media plan, but not the sum total of that plan. A CSS-level deal alone is no better than ESPN3. Subscribers with Dish, DirecTV, or U-verse don't get CSS and it only reaches approximately 6M homes in market penetration into 13 states (from Texas to Northern Virginia). ESPN3 provides at least 21M viewers on college and military campuses, 40M who are Xbox Live subscribers, and the 73 million homes that get ESPN3 access through their ISPs. There is a sharp trend among those who are 30 and under away from conventional cable and TV generally.; The SoCon should place itself of the leading edge of web-broadcast sports. It should use the dues raised in the last year ($25K per member school) to subsidize HD-quality production of SoCon athletics at every member school. Because the league needs the exposure almost as badly as TV needs cheap programming, the SoCon should enter into a league-wide deal only for first-tier TV rights (like the Big10, among others). It’s my impression that CAA member schools made $0 from their NBC deal, but I haven’t found that out from a credible source; first-tier rights are mainly valuable as exposure points. Outside of first-tier games, every SoCon football and basketball game should be broadcast live on the internet in HD for free (or a nominal fee) by the SoCon itself—similar to what the Horizon League does. Further, each member institution should enter into a broadcast deal with a local TV partner to show the HD feed from every home and away game so long as that game is not in the tier 1 package. Having a comprehensive media package is far more important than just having one component (TV) over another (web). The world is changing—and the SoCon needs to get closer to the front of the curve on this issue.

The Citadel- I prefer any deal that gets my school on TV, other than one that required last-minute changes to football game times. The league members can't afford to do that. The SoCon badly needs a TV deal for hoops as well (maybe more so than football, actually).

Western Carolina- Any network TV offer should be approved, as long as the SoCon is able to offer games not carried by that network to other outlets, such as ESPN3.

What should the SoCon’s scheduling strategy be from this point forward?

Chattanooga- I think the SoCon should stay at 18 games if they had the opportunity. Since they are moving to 16 games, though, I think that the SoCon should make sure make sure that if a team plays one team one year only once, they should play that team twice the next year.

Furman- The SoCon shouldn't let the elite programs determine what the league does schedule-wise. Would it be different if Furman or Appalachian State wanted something?...I like an 18-game schedule.

Georgia Southern- I like the 16 game conference schedule. The only way for the SoCon to improve it's conference rating is to win OOC games. Having a couple extra every year is needed I think. As for next year I'd have each team play six teams twice and four teams once. It's not the way you'd like to have a conference schedule, but with only 11 teams it's probably the way it needs to be done.

The Citadel- A 16-game schedule is good in that it gives teams more room to operate in terms of making their OOC schedules. I also hope it means an end to December conference games.The "six and four" plan is fine (it is close to what we do now with divisions). I suspect fans of some teams will be worried that other schools will load up on patsies and negatively impact measures like RPI. That's where Dave Odom should be involved (as part of his role with the SoCon), to make sure each school has a schedule that works for its needs but doesn't hurt the conference as a whole. I also hope the league helps schools with invitations to more exempt tournaments.

Western Carolina- I’m not impressed with a 16 game schedule and only 11 teams.  While eliminating the divisions maybe helpful, whatever method you utilize to schedule, there will be no fair or equitable way to schedule (what about the teams that play Davidson twice, but the Citadel only once, and vice versa, the teams that end up with two against the Citadel and only once against Davidson).  The only fair method would have been to postpone the 16 game schedule one year, and play a full schedule, home & home for this one season.

Twelve games between the North and South this week. Which division do you think will win more individual games this week?

Chattanooga- The South is making up ground fast, but a large chunk of that is due to Davidson’s dominance. With Davidson playing two games this week, I expect the South to narrow the gap and possibly even take the lead this week. I’d look for 7-5 in favor of the South.

Davidson- I think the South goes 7-5 this week. That'd leave us in a 19-19 tie with 10 games to play.

Furman- At this point, the Southern Conference North Division is much stronger than the South outside Davidson and College of Charleston. Having said that, the South will likely have more success this time around with most of the games on the South's home floor...Furman will likely go 1-1 against the North this week, while Davidson should make it 2-0 week against App and struggling WCU...But, I do think the North is a stronger division this season.

Georgia Southern- I think it's going to be close, but at the end of the week the North will walk away with a 7-5 record because of Samford winning the last game of the week on Saturday night.

Western Carolina- Don’t look for WCU to help in the North, same for the Citadel, Furman, Chattanooga, or UNCG – so, my money would be on the South – with Davidson & Charleston leading the way.

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