If you’re a big fan of conference realignment, then the last couple of years have been fantastic for you. A BCS conference plucks a team (or two) from another BCS conference, which begins a trickle down effect inevitably ending with the Big East grabbing a team filler, regardless of their geography. Apply, lather, rinse, repeat. What fun!
For most of us, however, conference realignment has been a common annoyance that has unfortunately dominated the headlines more times then we can remember. We’ve witnessed a comical amount of shifting between the BCS conference programs, and it hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down.
The lower mid-major levels have experienced some turnover as well, although it has been minor in comparison. Really, the biggest news among us mid-major fans on the east coast was when the Patriot League plucked America East member Boston University and MAAC member Loyola (MD) this past offseason. Since those moves, there has been a fair amount of speculation regarding when a NEC school or two would make a leap upward to a more lucrative mid-major conference.
Well, it sounds like we aren’t far away from that possibility. Today, Bill Paxton of the Connecticut Post dropped a bombshell of a tweet stating sources have informed him that Quinnipiac, Monmouth, and possibily Wagner are the leading candidates to fill the vacancies of the MAAC. Nothing has been confirmed, both from NEC commissioner Noreen Morris or any of the aforementioned schools (and sometimes it has been flatly denied), nor have any specifics or timelines been divulged. This is just a good old fashion rumor that’s more than likely to be true, when you consider the inside ties Paxton has with the MAAC and NEC.
For Quinnipiac and Monmouth, the upward move makes some sense. Quinnipiac has invested a lot of capitol into their athletic programs, especially basketball, so an upgrade to a bigger mid-major conference would more than likely be accepted. I bet the Quinnipiac athletic director is waiting by the phone right now! The logistics behind Monmouth’s move would be a little trickier, because of their football program. The MAAC doesn’t have a football conference, so where they’d play their football games is anyone guess. One highly unlucky scenario could have Monmouth remaining in the NEC for football. Couldn’t you just imagine that awkward conversation between Monmouth and the NEC?
Regardless, we here at Big Apple Buckets will of course update you with the latest news should anything definitive break. Per Paxton, the MAAC presidents will be meeting next Friday to discuss expansion, so if there’s a decision made concerning which schools they’d like to target, it probably wouldn’t take long for agreements to be reached. Until then, I won’t even begin to speculate on how the NEC would proceed if a team, or two, or three is poached next week. Let’s simply wait for the facts to come out first.
It’s certainly fitting that news like this was dropped on a Monday after NEC basketball experienced their most successful week of the young season. But instead of celebrating Robert Morris’ fantastic upset victory of Ohio, or Jalen Cannon’s dominance, or Monmouth’s and LIU Brooklyn’s winning streaks, we are once again reading about realignment rumors on our Twitter timeline.
And this time, the NEC is finally in the middle of it. Lucky us.