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Monday, September 13, 2010
…and the BTHC ain’t one.
That sums up my feelings about the hullabaloo raised with Penn State’s imminent announcement (nothing official has come out yet).
At USCHO, on the fan forums, there are 3 popular truisms:
1. Harvard is never going to join Hockey East.
2. There will never be a college hockey video game.
3. A Big Ten Hockey Conference will destroy all of the other WCHA and CCHA programs.
Number 3 is a theory that is voiced mostly by fans of teams like Denver, North Dakota, and the other Minnesota schools with some support from Miami and Northern Michigan. The belief is that Minnesota and Wisconsin leaving the WCHA and Michigan and Michigan State leaving the CCHA (Wanna know how much Ohio State has historically sucked? They rarely enter the conversation.) will deprive the other teams in the conferences of much needed revenue generated from home games against those Big oneTwo teams. You see, teams like Mankato, St. Cloud, and Duluth jack up the ticket prices for games against the Gophers to make money off of “travelling” Gopher fans. A similar situation exists in Michigan for teams like Ferris and Western when the big blue M comes to town. Without being in the same conference as the big schools, the big schools don’t have guarantee them those nice paydays. The other worry is that a BTHC will cut into the recruiting of top talent for the other schools and render them less competitive, destroying any chances of competing in D1 college hockey. Why play at Denver or North Dakota against Alaska-Anchorage and Bemidji State when I can play for Penn State against Minnesota and Michigan? Right?
As Donald mentioned, one solution being floated is having the top remaining “power” schools form their own conference to try to compete. Basically, Denver, NoDak, Notre Dame, Miami, Nebraska-Omaha, and the Minnesota schools form their own conference to try keep up with recruiting and TV money. Basically leaving the remaining Western schools in the dust and scraps to try to survive. They can rally to keep talented Gopher rejects from Minnesota going to Penn State and Ohio State and maybe with those mid-major name schools rally a deal with Fox College Sports or something for TV money. UAA, UAF, Tech, Northern and the rest are off to the dustbin for standing in their way.
So am I scared for UAA’s survival in this hypothetical post-BTHC world? Helllllllllllllllllllllllllllll no. Well, as long as two things happen: The NCAA doesn’t remove the “Games in Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico don’t against the schedule limit” rule and UAA is in conference with a Tournament bid. Keep those two things, we’re good.
The only revenue UAA loses is revenue generated from WCHA profits. That’s a big chunk of change and the only worry in this situation, it can be overcome but it’ll hurt some. Other than that, we don’t lose much else. Minnesota and Wisconsin doesn’t tick the attendance numbers up compared to what it does at Duluth or Mankato. The only game that does tick up attendance number (and therefore revenue) is the one against UAF. Any major changes in the college hockey landscape will potentially bring UAA and UAF into the same conference, an ideal situation that raises the revenue potential of the Governors Cup series. It also frees up some big name schools for travel to the Kendall Classic and Goal Rush tournaments, increasing revenue potential there. Finally it could free UAA and UAF’s schedules to the point for allowing Non-conference away games, a big bonus for pairwise implications. The 2 game schedule exemption is big carrot to use when gathering non-conference opponents, it’s a chance at free money and/or free pairwise boosts for other schools. As long as the rule stays, a BTHC does not hurt UAA or UAF much.
The other situation needed is to keep UAA in a conference with 6 teams and thus an NCAA tournament bid. UAA’s recruiting wouldn’t be affected much, Big Ten schools won’t be recruiting in Alberta and BC much and UAA learn it’s lesson of recruiting in Minnesota and Wisconsin. Even a WCHA without Minnesota and Wisconsin gives UAA a very good chance at success. Take Denver and North Dakota out and it gets better. And on the ice success is what drives ticket sales and revenue for UAA. It doesn’t matter much to the people of Anchorage if it’s against Minnesota and Wisconsin or Air Force and UAF. A 20 win season and an NCAA run would do more for UAA then what is going on now, it’s a sad fact but it’s true. I’d rather have UAA succeeding in the current situation but if the situation changes, I’m not worried.
UAA has way more than 99 problems, but a Big Ten Hockey Conference ain’t one.