|« Is Moses Ellis the real deal?||Idaho State ineligible for football playoffs in 2011 »|
Football not a priority for OVC anymore
The recent announcement by the Ohio Valley Conference that Belmont University would be joining the league during the 2012-2013 school year raised a few eyebrows.
The addition of Belmont definitely makes the OVC a much stronger basketball league – the Bruins have qualified for the NCAA Tournament in four of the past six years – but it also shows that football is no longer a major priority for the league.
That’s the stark reality of the situation.
With the addition of Belmont, the OVC will have 12 schools and only nine of those institutions will play FCS scholarship football. If Jacksonville State leaves the league in the not-too-distance future, which appears to be very likely at this point, it will leave the OVC with just eight football schools.
The OVC has expanded twice in recent years, but neither school — Belmont or SIU Edwardsville — has football or plans on adding football. When SIUE joined two years ago, the school’s chancellor said, “It would probably be some chancellor in the future that would bring football here; it will not be this one.”
Officials at Belmont, which has an enrollment of less than 6,000, basically said the same thing at the news conference that announced the school’s addition to the league.
So, where does that leave the OVC?
As a football conference, the OVC has pretty much been a non-factor in Division I-AA/FCS competition for years. These non-football additions to the league just weaken an already unattractive brand.
Remember, this is a conference that hasn’t won a playoff game since 2000 — and that win came from Western Kentucky, which long ago left and is now an FBS school in the Sun Belt Conference.
Let’s face it, if Jacksonville State were to leave soon it would leave just EKU and Eastern Illinois (and perhaps Murray State) as the only legitimate football schools in the league. No offense to Tennessee Tech, Tennessee State, SEMO, Austin Peay or UT Martin, but none of those schools have an impressive football tradition.
Simply put, it seems the people making the decisions at the OVC offices in Brentwood, Tenn., have no commitment to restoring some of this league’s long lost glory.
Sad but true.
At least fans can look back fondly on the times when EKU won national championships, Western Kentucky and Murray State were playoff contenders and schools like Marshall, Youngstown State, Akron, Middle Tennessee and East Tennessee State were all fighting for OVC titles each year.
Look back, because the future doesn’t look so bright.
By Nathan Hutchinson, The Richmond Register