SAPAKOFF COLUMN: The College of Charleston should stay in the Southern Conference, win and prosper
What are the odds? College of Charleston alums and sports fans are engaged in a fierce argument essentially centered around Hofstra, scene of another testy debate.
Stay in the Southern Conference?
Or bolt for Hofstra and Co., aka the Colonial Athletic Association?
The College of Charlestonís board of trustees is scheduled to meet today (without Candy Crowley on hand) and probably will take a league affiliation vote. Clearly, the school is tilting toward a big move ó if not now, soon ó as part of the administrationís long-standing desire to align with similar academic models (medium-sized, urban, lots of smart students).
Timing, money and geography donít add up.
Oh, and the Cougars will win fewer basketball games in the CAA. So the College of Charleston should stay in the SoCon until the nine-member CAA or some other league comes up with an attractive Southern strategy that makes sense (and dollars).
Donít get too comfortable. The history of college athletics is one long alignment shuffle. Alabama and Clemson were members of the SoCon. Sewanee once belonged to the SEC.
Itís hard to say whether the College of Charleston should stay or go because both the CAA and SoCon are moving targets. They are likely to lose, add, recruit and replace schools as often as ďAmerican IdolĒ changes judges.
But a few sports management staples endure through constant change.
Best of both worlds
There are things to like about the CAA, including potential new rivalries with UNC Wilmington and probably William & Mary. The CAAís new five-year contract with the NBC Sports Network includes 18 basketball telecasts this season (SoCon member Davidson at Drexel, for instance).
To an extent, the College of Charleston can have it both ways.
If the school feels the basketball Cougars are shackled in the so-so SoCon, it can always schedule more aggressively. Or pursue a jump more fun and significant, like to the Atlantic 10.
Want more exposure in big cities full of potential applicants that have lofty SAT scores? Play more non-conference games at the likes of Boston College, St. Johnís, Temple and Maryland. And UCLA.
Schedule at least one baseball series per year way up north and make it a nice alumni event.
Thatís better than all the College of Charleston teams hauling luggage up and down the Atlantic seaboard for conference games. Have fun getting to Northeastern in December or Drexel in February.
Unless thereís too much ice on the diamond for a College of Charleston baseball program that has used the sunny SoCon as a springboard to NCAA tournament appearances that give the school valuable publicity in media platforms available all over the world.
Upgrading is always tricky. Only one of the Cougarsí four NCAA tournament appearances in basketball happened after the College of Charleston joined the SoCon, and that was the first year in the league, 1999. Yes, the move roughly coincided with John Kresseís retirement as head coach in 2002.
But the CAA logically dilutes the Cougarsí NCAA tournament odds.
There are signs the basket-ball program is catching up with baseball. New head coach Doug Wojcik inherits intriguing talent from Bobby Cremins. The present Cougars project as one of the best teams in the post-Kresse years.
In the SoCon, the basketball Cougars are on the verge with a success formula that might not work in the CAA.
Until there is another conference shakeout decision sometime soon.
Reach Gene Sapakoff at 937-5593 or on Twitter @sapakoff