It's rivalry week. Though in the WCHA the Seawolves primary rival has been and always will be UAF. Geography dictates that. Unless and until the Big Ten Hockey Conference happens and there is some sort of reorganization of college hockey conferences UAA and UAF look destined to be forced to maintain this rivalry from their respective conferences. It is what it is. I don't like it much.
No other two schools in the NCAA are forced into this situation. That's right I said forced. There is a conscious and dedicated philosophy by schools in the lower 48 to force UAA and UAF into separate conferences. Why? Because there isn't a hockey school athletic administrator in the WCHA or CCHA with even a modicum of concern for basic fairness.
There are three NCAA schools which don't have their primary rival in the same conference. That's Northern Michigan/Michigan Tech and UAH. Unfortunately for UAH they really don't have anyone they could consider a rival. They've been the lone representative for college hockey in the southern U.S. for decades. The CCHA is so pussified about traveling that they'd rather have an uneven number of teams in their conference than let UAH in. As for NMU and MTU, blame Northern for that. They were in the WCHA with Tech and chose to switch.
The almighty dollar rules. The Alaska and Hawaii schools had to lobby the NCAA to get contests played in our state exempted from schedule limits as incentive for other schools to even come up here. Without that exempt status either/or both the WCHA and CCHA would tell UAA and UAF to take a fucking hike without a second thought. With the alaska exemption, they all make more money than they otherwise would. Do UAA and UAF get to play two extra home games a year as incentive for making 7 or 8 road trips to the lower 48? Fuck no we don't.
UAA and UAF went the independent route for quite a few years. They put together a conference of independent teams with now defunct teams like USIU in San Diego, Northern Arizona, Air Force and Alabama Huntsville. When some of those schools folded, college hockey "rescued" UAA and UAF. The CCHA and WCHA took us both in. There was some effort to get both schools into the same conference but the moment they realized that would mean teams would have to take the big bad trip to Alaska twice in a season that went out the window.
As part of the agreement to join the conferences both the WCHA and CCHA made UAA and UAF agree to pay for their airfare. That still exists even now after all those years. It exists even though in the WCHA every team makes a pretty penny from taking advantage of the "Alaska Exemption". And by a pretty penny, I'm talking about filling their rink with fans for two extra home games every year.
In Wisconsin's case, that means hundreds of thousands of extra dollars into what is already one of the richest athletic departments in all of the NCAA. And they still make us both pay some portion of their team's airfare? Can you say largess? It's not only I suspect it's all a violation of United States Anti-Trust laws ... I know it's morally reprehensible.
So last year when the WCHA expanded, an attempt was made to get UAF considered. It was never going to happen. I promoted the shit out of here even though I was fully cognizant that it had no real chance.
Hopefully, the BTHC comes to full fruition. The sooner the better as far as I'm concerned. Minnesota and Wisconsin will leave the WCHA; Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State will leave the CCHA. With any luck that will throw the remaining schools into a giant tizzy. A state that which they all entirely deserve with their historic and ongoing greediness.
Had they acted morally over the last two decades I'd feel differently. But they haven't ... so yeah; I hope they get fucked over by the BTHC. I can find no other reason to feel differently. The "but it will damage the college hockey landscape" refrain means nothing to me.
So until all that happens to delight and warm the spiteful cockles of my cold heart, I'll have to be satisfied with the situation as it is. The funny thing is though, that I dislike Fairbanks enough that I really don't want to play them 4 times a year. But that's how I guess one should feel about their rival.
Piss on UAF this weekend and anytime we play them. But the rest of the time, these two schools need to ensure they walk hand in hand and work together to utilize the clout of the exemption it's fullest possible positive benefit. The time for the mindset of "Well, we're just happy we're in a conference" or "We're in the best conference in college hockey" is over.