By Preston Adams
The landscape of FCS is quite diverse when you think about the size of conferences. We have some that are 6-7 teams, and others that are as big as 12, or 13. I think the perfect size of a conference is around 9-10 teams so everyone plays each other once a year, or only misses out on one team in conference. Sadly, with college athletics becoming more corporate, especially in the realm of football, this is a lot less likely to happen. And, certainly no conference will be shrinking willingly. With this in mind, I would like to propose that the CAA splits into 2 divisions, North and South, again. The last time they had this split was in 2009 before the conference had some major shake up losing Hofstra, Northeastern, UMASS, gaining ODU (then losing ODU), Elon, Albany, and Stony Brook. The conference is settled at 12 teams since 2013, so it’s time to go back to the divisions. The split would be as follows:
William & Mary
So, why do it? What’s wrong with not playing 3 teams from your conference every year? Why regionalize it? Well, first of all, I believe that part of the great allure of college sports is the rivalries one creates with the teams in their conferences. The opportunity the play the same 5 teams year in and year out will be great for fan interest. Secondly, the divisions are a lot more balanced since the last time the CAA did this. Before it was bottom heavy, with NOVA taking the place of the proposed Elon in the south. Talk about a loaded division! The split I propose is a lot more balanced, especially with the rise of Rhode Island and consistent play of Stony Brook over the last couple of years. Finally, it provides much needed consistency, and less of an opportunity for the pitfalls of top teams never facing off. On the off chance they do not though, at least this way provides us with more logical tie breakers than the craziness we almost saw in the CAA this year in terms of an AQ. The final tiebreaker under the old system was to have AD’s vote between schools that aren’t involved on who gets the AQ. I mean, come on. Plus, with each team facing the same opponents in division, there’s a less likely chance of the entire conference beating up on 2-3 teams, and therefore creating a potential headache scenario for a tiebreaker. The way I see this going with a tiebreaker is as follows:
Conference W/L record
Record vs. common CAA opponents
W/L within division
Also, if you’re worried about the rivalry between Delaware and Villanova, there’s always clauses and caveats that make sure that the biggest conference rivals play under special circumstances, no matter what. Do you think it’s just a coincidence that JMU always plays Richmond and William & Mary every year? Even with the expansion of the ACC, Duke and North Carolina always play their home and home in basketball. Plus, even with that guaranteed crossover game, Delaware and NOVA still have the variables of 2 other crossover games. I’m not saying this system is perfect. I would prefer for everyone to play everyone, but not all leagues are capable of doing that. The Big Sky has the same issue, and the MVFC is about to add North Dakota to make it 11 teams in conference. Then again, this could also be moot whenever the next round of TV contracts is up and conference realignment at the FBS trickles down and Group of 5 conferences start to pluck FCS teams.