Big South Commissioner Kyle Kallander took to Media Day yesterday and made some comments regarding the best path for success for his conference. While Kallander has been the commissioner of the Big South for 18 years now, he's most well-known for being the guy in the pilot seat when the Southwest Conference fell in 1996. For those that can't remember that far back the Southwest Conference was in the footprint of the Big 12 and at one time had the likes of Arkansas, Texas, Texas A&M, and others among their ranks.
Kallander made a couple of comments that made my Mid-Major ears perk up and I wonder the sentiment around conferences nationally. Last year, the Big South went to a one site, "destination" tournament location in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Kallander applauded the success of the tournament but also said he was a strong proponent of the campus based system and rewarding the regular season championship with a competitive advantage.
The second comment that stood out harkened back to the days from 1999 to 2008 when the Winthrop Eagles dominated the conference with nine of the twelve Big South championships in that year.
"The bell cow philosophy is one that is important to conferences like ours because that's what people notice," via The Republic
I'm a fan for equal equity for all teams, what makes mid-major conferences, college basketball, and their tournaments great is the unpredictability year after year. Almost every conference in the country has four or five teams each year who can realistically win the conference, but the Liberty Flames showed last year that in the Big South we might want to expand that out to twelve teams with a chance, no matter how the deck may be stacked for certain programs.
The Big South had a "bell cow" and his name was Gregg Marshall. What does the conference have to show for it and how has it spring-boarded the Big South in any way? Conferences like Colonial Athletic Association and Missouri Valley got their names in the national spotlight because of having a quality conference full of quality teams, not by having one program to trumpet. Those conferences were, and remain to be, a grind night in and night out. Their conference tournaments were truly spectacular and harnessed emotion that can't be replicated in some of the corporate environments we see in major conference tournaments.
So my question to fans is why do people still operate under this mindset where stacking the deck and shooting for one dominate team is OK? And why should this be suitable for all the other fans, alumni, and programs around conferences like this?