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CAA Eyes Odd Slate
HARRISONBURG - Currently, not every football team in the Colonial Athletic Association plays every other member. In 2011 - for one season only - a school might not even face everyone in its own division.
Old Dominion will become the seventh team in the CAA’s South Division in 2011, while the North will remain at six teams. CAA commissioner Tom Yeager said Wednesday that four of the South teams will play all six divisional foes, while three will play only five.
The four that face all six will play two games against North Division teams, while the three that play five will have three cross-over games against the North on their schedules.
Yeager said the league held a random drawing within the past month to determine which of the South’s schools - James Madison, ODU, Delaware, Richmond, Towson, Villanova and William & Mary - would have which schedule scenario.
Colonial director of communications Scott Meyer said associate commissioner Chuck Boone literally pulled the schools’ names out of Meyer’s 2008 Kansas basketball national-championship cap. The league has opted not to release the results of the drawing.
“It was about as random as you could get,” Meyer said. “We did use a hat and equally sized pieces of paper.”
Yeager said the results were sent to the Denver-based schedule-making service the CAA uses, the same company employed by Major League Baseball. Meyer also said the league might discard the whole drawing if it is dissatisfied with the schedule that’s produced.
“We could throw out the random drawing,” Meyer said. “We want to put our teams on as balanced a schedule as we can.”
Teams play 11 or 12 games - including eight in conference - during the regular season.
The 2011 scenario will last just one season - though what comes after that remains a mystery. Georgia State is set to join the CAA in 2012. At that point, Yeager said, the league is looking at a number of scenarios to accommodate 14 teams.
“We haven’t figured that one out yet,” Yeager said, shortly after a conference call with the CAA athletic directors.
One possibility would be for Georgia State to play in the North. While that sounds like a geographically flawed solution, Yeager pointed out that teams would have to fly to Georgia State either way, and the school is located close to Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.
A second option would have Villanova slide into the North Division, with Georgia State and ODU both playing in the South. That, however, would break up Villanova’s longtime rivalry with Delaware and other southern schools.
A third scenario has the CAA splitting into three divisions - a north, central and south - with five teams in two divisions and four in the third.
“I don’t know how they’re going to do it,” JMU coach Mickey Matthews said Wednesday. “I really don’t have any idea, because it’s so many teams. I’ve been in a lot of different conferences; I’ve never been in one that had 14 teams.”
One thing the league apparently isn’t considering is losing any of its current members.
“We’ve had two fabulous years with just tremendous recognition for our programs,” Yeager said. “Everyone’s committed to working it out. I don’t think anybody disputes anywhere that 14 is a difficult number. At the same time, what we’ve been able to accomplish the last few years isn’t something anybody’s ready to give up on.”
JMU athletic director Jeff Bourne, who participated in Wednesday’s conference call, agreed.
“Obviously, the league is good and firm,” Bourne said. “The members seem to be, I think, they realize the value in our conference. I don’t see any immediate change in that.”
Yeager said the Colonial would not petition the NCAA for a second automatic bid to the I-AA playoffs despite having 14 teams, something Matthews has advocated.
“It’s difficult. It’s just difficult to make the I-AA playoffs,” Matthews said. “Look at William & Mary last year. Look at who their four losses were to, and it’s hard to justify them not going. I don’t think there was any question that William & Mary was one of the top 16 teams in the country, but they didn’t make the playoffs.”
W&M lost to James Madison, Villanova, Richmond and I-A North Carolina State. It lost to the Spiders, the eventual I-AA national champions, in overtime on the final weekend of the season.
Not that the CAA has been lacking in bids: it got five each of the past two seasons.
Also Wednesday, Yeager confirmed that - with the I-AA title game being pushed back to the eve of the BCS title game - bye weeks will be included in teams’ 2010 schedules. The I-AA playoffs expand to 20 teams, meaning five weeks of postseason games, in 2010.