There seems to be more about the changes Conference USA recently made than meets the press release.
It all began when Stadium’s Brett McMurphy broke the news on Twitter.
“Conference USA men’s and women’s hoop tourneys will be reduced from 12 to eight teams,” wrote McMurphy, “and the league is also reducing regular-season games or postseason format in other C-USA Olympic sports, sources told @Stadium.”
It was compelling information.
Yet, it also gave rise to more than a few questions.
First and foremost, are the C-USA men’s and women’s basketball tournaments going to be reduced from 12 participants to eight permanently?
That means instead of only two of the league’s 14 schools not advancing to tournament play, six would stay home.
Six is too many.
There’s no point in having a 14-school conference if 42.9 percent of its members aren’t allowed to participate in league tournament play.
I’m not the only one who feels that way, either.
“I wish it were 12,” said Danny D’Antoni, Marshall University’s veteran head basketball coach. “If it’s only one year I can understand. Staying with 14 teams is the way it should be until we get past this COVID-19 thing.”
Most fans would agree on both counts.
But what about D’Antoni’s reference to the possibility this might be a strictly one-year move? Is there really a chance of that being the case?
“I think and hope so,” replied D’Antoni. “My hopes are we take a longer look for future years. Some athletic directors thought cuts had to be made this year.”
It was a classic knee-jerk reaction which Conference USA administrators and athletic directors have been found guilty of committing far too often.
They are infamous for it.
The worst time to panic is during panicky times. It is far better to ride the storm out and then allow calmer heads to prevail once normalcy returns and the routine ways are reestablished.
It’s called having perspective.
Which is precisely why knee-jerk reactions seldom work for long.
Yet Conference USA is making them anyway, according to multiple sources. For example, volleyball will switch to a four-team, one-day tournament, and the league’s regular-season champion will host the C-USA tournament.
Talk about home-court advantage.
Also, softball reportedly will see its Conference USA games reduced from 24 to only 15, which means eight series cut to only five. As for baseball, its schedule will be downsized from 30 league games to 24 — 10 series reduced to eight.
Wonder how Title IX is going to react to that?
Conference USA also announced a future schedule of sites for the league baseball tournament. The 2021 tourney will be at Louisiana Tech located in Ruston, Louisiana at the Bulldogs’ rebuilt Pat Patterson Park.
In 2022, the C-USA baseball tournament will move to Southern Mississippi’s Pete Taylor Park in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Then, in 2023, the tournament will be at Rice University’s Reckling Park in Houston.
Guess what is interesting about this scenario?
All three sites are in western locales. For example, Louisiana Tech, Southern Miss and Rice are all members of Conference USA’s West Division in football.
I thought the whole idea was to make scheduling more geographically conscious and travel more financially friendly. Yet, none of the next three Conference USA baseball tournaments are scheduled to be held in eastern locales.
Anybody feel their knee jerking?