In light of yesterday's press release, I sent Brian a quick email asking his opinion of NCAA hockey expansion.
His response was thorough, interesting, and what you might call pessimistic. A taste:
Any program willing to take up the daunting task of starting an expensive sport and balancing the Title IX implications out would face a near-pointless life as an independent. Much cost, no benefit, no expansion.
He goes on from there; for those interested it is a very good read.
Some initial thoughts:
- With the vast majority of Penn State students coming from hockey towns, it wouldn't take much to push the sport into a big deal on campus.
- As much as I would love to see the conference formed, I'm more than appreciative of the fact that hockey operates in a different environment and realize there is quite a lot of value in keeping the regional rivalries that make the sport great. Jumping to a Big Ten conference would empower the already powerful name brand programs and hurt the lesser known ones.
- That being said, there is no reason why you couldn't create a six team BT league that allows for plenty of the traditional non-BT games to be players.
- And going further, I don't see why more schools couldn't copy the Beat Pot format to raise the stakes. That tournament is one the best in sports (IMO) and if there is one thing college athletic programs do to perfections it's copy the traditions of others.
- Unless the other Big Ten schools like the idea of a BT conference as much as Brian and I do, it might be best to prepare for a long road to mediocrity. While the club team's success and regional interest are all very favorable, things are just too crowded right now.
- However, I don't see why the Big Ten would be incapable of doing the same thing the Big East has planned for lacrosse in 2010 (Penn State impact for those who care), a.k.a. make some major moves in order to build stronger leagues as well as make room for the sport to grow.