As the SoCon Turns has taken a few spins in recent days and weeks, so I thought it’d be a good time to play catch up.
– SoCon officials are in Macon today (Friday) to check out Mercer University, one of three schools the league has targeted as replacements for departing members Georgia Southern, Appalachian State, College of Charleston and now Davidson. The SoCon already has visited VMI, and will go to East Tennessee State.
To my mind, the key questions at ETSU and Mercer are, how soon will these start-up programs be ready for scholarship football in the SoCon? Not that the answer will be a deal-breaker — the SoCon has limited options at this point — but plans must be made and schedules filled out.
– Our man in Burlington Adam Smith reported recently what we all suspected, that the Colonial Athletic Association is out to snag Elon from the SoCon. Money quote: “If anybody tells you it’s a done deal, they’re wrong. The decision has not been made,” another source said. “But the conversations and the dialogue are very intense.”
– Elon brass may want to read this story by Brian Mull of the Wilmington paper before they do anything rash. Mull reports that Colonial member UNCW is facing the prospect of dropping five sports, citing “northern expansion of the Colonial” as one of the reasons. One would hope that SoCon commish John Iamarino is riding in on his white steed to offer UNCW safe haven in his league. This story also might draw attention at College of Charleston (heading to the northern climes of the Colonial) and Davidson (bound for the Atlantic 10).
– Meanwhile, the Sun Belt — future home of GSU and App State — is meeting this weekend with finding a 12th football school on the agenda. Colonial member James Madison has been mentioned as a candidate for the Sun Belt, but also could be a target for Conference USA.
If James Madison shakes loose, who knows what that might mean for CAA members William & Mary and (football-only) Richmond.
All of this is building toward the SoCon meetings May 28-31 in Hilton Head, when I fully expect invitations to be issued to Mercer, ETSU and VMI, and for Elon to reveal its intentions with regards to the CAA.
And one word in defense of the SoCon commish, who is taking heat in some quarters. Given the SoCon’s position in the college athletics food chain, I don’t know how much he could have done to prevent all this. Look at the Big East — it was way up on the food chain, and doesn’t even exist as we knew it anymore.
GSU and App were determined to play for a spot in the New Orleans Bowl, and will get that chance. As basketball leagues higher up on the food chain fed on each other, a spot came open for Davidson in what is clearly a better league, though the Atlantic 10 is not what it once was. The closest call is College of Charleston’s move to the Colonial, another league that is not what it once was. Let’s hope the Cougars don’t wind up looking at dropping sports the way UNCW is.
Stay tuned for the next episode.