Realignment has hit the South harder than Sherman's March. It's a vicious cycle that we've seen coming for years now and now its at the doorstep of the Southern Conference, Atlantic Sun, and the Big South. As a basketball fan its more than frustrating, due to the fact that football is almost the driver of every decision being made nowadays. So is there a solution? Or do conferences even want a solution.
The Southern Conference raided the Atlantic Sun and Big South this week taking VMI, East Tennessee State, and Mercer. They may be done for now, but they are sure to come back for more. Now the Big South and ASun have to recoup and there only seems to be two viable options that continue to be thrown around, both of which are football centric.
The ASun may be in the worst position here because they do not sponsor football and one member, Kennesaw State, is set to start scholarship football within the next couple of years. This move makes the Owls an attractive target for a number of conferences including the Big South, Southern, and maybe even the Ohio Valley and Colonial. The other fold is budding West Georgia who may begin their ascent to the Division I ranks in the near future. Losing KSU would cripple the Atlantic Sun into a WAC-esque situation and limit their ability to get an autobid into the NCAA Tournament for several sports.
Option two is the raiding of the MEAC. Their have been whispers for years of the historically black conference crumbling a bit but nothing has come to fruition. Now there are louder grumblings that Delaware State, North Carolina A&T, Norfolk State, and Savannah State could be viable candidates for the Big South. Hampton has flirted with the CAA and the ASun may have to pick schools like Bethune-Cookman or Florida A&M out of the scrap heap that is college realignment. Keep in mind that only one Historically Black College/University (HBCU), Tennessee State, plays outside a traditional HBCU conference in the nation. Leaving the MEAC would be a bold venture for any of these schools.
But before we keep witnessing domino after domino fall (all while leaving a wake of destruction of rivalries, history, etc) why don't just minds get together and come up with the most logical solution possible. I know this will never happen because of money, egos, other factors, and...o yea...money; but here is the most logical solution out there:
Conference 1: UT-Chattanooga, Samford, Mercer, ETSU, VMI, Citadel, Western Carolina, Kennesaw State, Furman, Wofford, Coastal Carolina, Gardner-Webb, Presbyterian, Charleston Southern
Conference 2: Campbell, High Point, Longwood, Radford, UNC Asheville, Winthrop, UNC Greensboro, USC Upstate, Florida Gulf Coast, Stetson, Jacksonville, Lipscomb, Northern Kentucky, North Florida
You have a one conference with football schools and one conference with basketball schools. Both have a logical footprint and would make a lot of sense for all universities involved. The only school left out is Liberty, but the Flames have aspirations of moving to FBS sooner rather than later.
I know a pipe dream that will never happen. But someone needs to end this madness! And a guy can dream!