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Old Dominion, The Last Domino

September 7, 2012

    Since I last left you Da'Rick and Tyrann failed drug tests, Isaiah Crowell was caught riding dirty. Petrino crashed his motorcycle, Phillip Sims and Lafonte Thoroughgood came home, Gus Malzahn left for Jonesboro, and Urban Meyer decided a year (much of it as a broadcaster) was enough time spent with his family. Sure, there is plenty that I'm forgetting but these are the stories that wrap-up what always makes for an entertaining offseason in the South. However, even with all that news, the biggest story (outside of Happy Valley) of the offseason was conference realignment. It just so happens that my school, Old Dominion University, pulled the plug on the move from FCS to FBS. So, I figured we could take a look at how this happened, the reaction to the news and its future impact on a program just years removed from its rebirth.

    The How:
    Early on in life we all learn that each action has a equal or bigger reaction. But for some reason, especially when it comes to conference realignment, we often forget this fact. In June 2010, when Colorado jumped ship to the Pac no one thought it would affect the Virginia centric CAA. However, it was the first in a number of dominoes to fall that ultimately ended with VCU moving to the A-10, Georgia State moving to the Sun Belt, Old Dominion moving to CUSA, Rhode Island reversing course and the combo of Albany and Stony Brook switching to the CAA for football only. Don't believe me, just follow the timeline.

    Georgia State starts their transition immediately, ending any chance at postseason glory (their chances were already low). Over two seasons of play, the Panthers have lost to Division 2 and NAIA programs. Their most recent loss, a 33 to 6 drubbing at the hands of HBCU and MEAC member South Carolina State. A program that is struggling so bad financially, they are considering dropping down to Division 2. Clearly Georgia State, the program with an all-time record of 9-14 (.375), is ready for FBS football. VCU leaves the CAA for the A-10 immediately, though that won't matter until November.

    Credit: Mace and Crown
    The move for ODU begins in 2013 when all Olympic sports (the ones sponsored by CUSA anyhow and those haven't left for CUSA already) join the league, with the football team starting the mandatory two-year transition the same season. The delay is in order to allow the football team one last chance at an FCS Championship. This has resulted in all ODU sports being ineligible for all CAA autobids for the various NCAA sports, a decision that has led to plenty of criticism from fans and journalists.

    Reaction:
    Since May, the response from students, alums, athletes, recruits and fans has been overwhelmingly positive. This cannot be more evident in the fact that between the beginning of the CUSA rumors and the announcement (about 10 days) donors pledged $3 million for the ODAF.

    However, it hasn't all been positive and the concerns are legitimate. Old Dominion will leave a Virginia centric league for one with teams as far away as 2,000 miles. That type of travel will increase expenses, put more demand on student-athletes (and band members), and lower the chances for rivalries to exist outside of the eastern division. Increased ticket prices is another concern, which may be inescapable due to increased demand and expenses. However, President John Broderick and AD Wood Selig have promised no increases in student fees and limited gradual increases for ticket prices for season and single-game tickets. The added expense of playing FBS football has been estimated at $2 million per year. This estimation covers the increase in football scholarships, a new women's sport (plus the schollies) to satisfy Title IV, travel increases and expected increase in coaches salaries.
    Future/Summation:
    Wood Selig and John Broderick have everyone in town excited for what this transition will bring to our great institution. Bobby Wilder has recruited his tail off, already landing 21 commitments in the 2013 class with 17 of those players being 3 or 2 star recruits. At the same time last year, they had three, all unranked. They have already won recruiting battles against notable programs Cal, Temple, Purdue and Illinois as well as future conference mates La. Tech, Marshall and ECU. Situated in the middle of one of the richest recruiting grounds in the country with just 2 FBS state schools to compete with (Comparatively, North Carolina has 6 and Ohio has 8) and breaking support records on an annual basis, the future is a bright one for Old Dominion.

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