Drowning in the Atlantic by Bob Ryan

The Billikens have been swimming in the Atlantic….the Atlantic-10….since 2005. From my view, this conference is not a good match for the Bills. They’ve been drowning in the long trips, small arenas, lack of real “rivals”,  lack of emotional games,  lack of national prominence. Now…I do realize that immediately some will say…”they can’t change leagues”…..well…..a short glance at the history of SLU shows that the Bills have changed conferences….and done it often….they’ve been in 6 different conferences since 1937….here’s the history….

1937-38 through 1973-74 Missouri Valley Conference

1975-76 through 1981-82 Metro Conference

1982-83 through 1990-91 Midwestern City Conference (changed name to Midwestern Collegiate Conference in 1985-86)

1991-92 through 1994-95 Great Midwest Conference

1995-96 through 2004-05 Conference USA

2005-06 through present Atlantic 10

Please note….the longest affiliation was with the Missouri Valley Conference! …..so change is COMMON and frequent for SLU. I’m proposing an application back to the Missouri Valley Conference for SLU.  Why?

….Cost…doesn’tthat always come first!!  I don’t have to discuss at length the difference in cost in traveling to 4 schools in Virginia+ Wash DC, 2 in New York,  3 in Pennsylvania, 1 in Rhode Island, 1 in Massachusetts, 1 in N.Carolina, 1 in Ohio vs traveling to schools in Missouri, Illinois, Indiana and Iowa.    Please consider not just the cost of the basketball program but also….baseball, softball, w-m soccer teams, and ALL the other sports. Is that extra cost of extensive traveling measure up to a real difference in opponents & interest? Hardly…With opponents a fraction a distance of the way closer…I would anticipate teams from adjacent states will travel for “big games” and stir up some emotion at the games …that’s the excitement of collegiate sports. Don’t tell that cost ISN’T a factor in major college sports.

…Quality ….looking at the level of play of the conferences…as of Dec 14, 2018..last week….the MO Valley was listed as the 10th best Men’s basketball conference…..A-10 was found in the 12th position…. sooo…the MVC is listed as a better conference now…and over the past few years….has consistently been higher than the A-10.

….Facililties…..looking at the facilities of these conference games, the MVC has a better, larger set of arenas…in the A-10, The Chavitz Arena (10,000+) is 2nd largest in the conference. There are 7 arenas in the A-10 with less than 6,000 capacity…is this the type of “place” that big-time schools play? By contrast, In the MVC, there are just 2 arenas that hold less than 6,000 and there are 5 that hold 10000+ now. Sooo… give that check mark to MVC

….National Recognition….Who’s been on the national stage most recently or at all?  Clearly the MVC is better recognized than the A-10.  Just last year, Loyola-Chicago made it to the Final Four….the Sr Jean story, “teamwork” did wonders for the MVC in national recognition.  The MVC has 4 teams that have won NCAA  basketball championships to their credit…. A10—zero.

…Familiarity….who’s in the MVC now….MO State, SIU-Carbondale, Bradley (Peoria, Ill), Loyola-Chicago, Illinois State (Normal Ill), Drake (Des Moines), Univ of N. Iowa (Cedar Falls, Iowa), Indiana St (Terra Haute, Ind)., U of Evansville and Valparaiso University. All these schools are probably easily identified by Billiken fans.

 …Strength of League..SLU was picked #1 in the pre-season for the A-10….would that be true in MVC?

…Reasoning for entering A-10 was egregious….in 2005, SLU administration gave this explanation for the move to the A-10  “Saint Louis University, its alumni and fans are extremely enthusiastic regarding the Billikens’ inaugural year in the Atlantic 10 Conference,” said Cheryl L. Levick, director of athletics at Saint Louis. “The profile of the A-10 membership is the best fit that Saint Louis University has enjoyed in the history of Billiken athletics. Plus, the A-10 provides new major market media exposure for our program and also opens the East Coast for under graduate student recruitment for the institution. We look forward to a long, exciting and successful tenure in the A-10.”….does anyone think that the major coverage of A-10 athletics in New York, Virginia, etc “ gets any where close to page 1, 2 or 3 in those local newspapers? Market exposure” for the Bills  in the East Coast, I believe is veryminimal…at best. Just think of all the professional teams that this small conference is battling for space in the local sports pages. I realize that SLU was talking more about the “general” students than just athletes.  However, I don’t see how competing in games that few people of the population of the East Coast even KNOW are taking place will help a university grow.….it’s time to stop drowning…..get  back on solid ground….the valley….the Missouri Valley!

….We’ve all been flooded….almost to the point of drowning…with all the hype, rumors, talk about the MLB Major League meetings in Las Vegas. Well….the talk exceeded the actual production.  The Flood of actual action barely filled Mandolin Bay. But let’s focus on the Card moves….

….Cards pedal  3B Patrick Wisdom to Texas for inf/of Drew Robinson….it seemed more like a Christmas gift to me….Wisdom (27 years old) had no spot on the club once Goldschmidt was acquired and Carp penciled in for 3B. So now Wisdom MAY get a chance to play. He had no spot left here. Cards obtained Robinson…who’s listed as Inf/OF…so he can play all over.. the only place he can’t play…it seems … is in the batters box….he carries a lifetime .204 average. Further, the Cards…like many other MLB teams…are striving for bench players who play multiple positions (like Gonzalez of Houston). Wisdom& Adams couldn’t do that…so each has “moved on”. Adams resigned with Washington over the weekend…he’ll be a backup 1B and PH for the Nats.

…Cards chose not to sign and passed on reliever Tyson Ross. This was a bit of a puzzler to me…Ross (31) was the type of bullpen man required these days….he went more than 1 inning. That’s become the norm these days…1 inning. For the Cards he was in 9 games, 26 inn, 20 hits, 15 K, era-2.73…better than most.  I wouldn’t think of him as the top of the line….actually closer to the bottom of the line … but he could save arms by going more than 1 inning. I realize that we have a gaggle of young, cheap relievers just itching to sneak into the bullpen. Who wants to be that “mop up” man role? …. That’s what Ross did last year…Surely, surely…it wasn’t because Ross signed for $1.75m contract instead of the minimum of $500,000+.

…..Yadi’ decision….he played in the World baseball matches immediately following the season…. On Thursday he underwent knee surgery. I assume that he feels that the knee will heal completely in 2 months…..I’m not so sure.

….drowning in Bowl games… 30 bowl games is TOO MANY…there aren’t 60 real good teams

Warm Up Bowls….ya know…we’re all familiar with ‘warm up” acts at concerts, performances, etc..well these bowls in early-mid December…they are the warm up acts….many of them hoping to become the “feature” attraction down the road….along those lines… I enjoyed Appalacian State’s play in the New Orleans Bowl. This team was a power force in FCS play—winning 3 straight championships.  Now in their 5th year in FBS….the Mountaineers have won 4 straight bowl games after rolling over Mid Tennessee State 45-13.  This team knocked off Michigan a few years ago….so other Power 5 teams want touch them….how sad. I wrote about Central Florida last week….this school/team is in exactly the same place….not a well know name yet too good for top teams to schedule…maybe we could have a “Step Up” bowl as one of these teams on the rise face a top contender (probably not the league champion) from a Power 5…

….well…I’ve deluged you with all kinds of “stuff”… so you’re probably drowning to keep your head above water….hang on…the end is only letters away.. bye 🙂

Comments

  1. Frank Balint says:

    Good stuff! SLU has no business stumbling all over the east coast. They really should come home!

  2. Kenny Alsop says:

    I agree with the SLU idea completely, makes so much sense!

  3. James Baer says:

    Time to add Dayton and Billikens to the Big East.

    West Div of new teams plus Marquette,
    DePaul, Butler, and Creighton. Travel
    Not so far. Old rivalries.

  4. Bob, I agree regarding SLU.
    Some say they are not good enough to be in the MO Valley,
    But perhaps they would rise to the competition!
    & if that’s the case, they would recruit more local talent .
    From a Slu fan who would love it to have a packed arena as I’m a fair weather fan with games that seem to not mean much until after Christmas 🙂 I must admit …. the band always makes the games for me!!. SAINT-LOUIS!

  5. SLU needs to get out of he A-10. The MVC would be nice for natural rivalries, but what about the Big East? Some say that AD May has an incentive clause in his contract that would kick in if the Billikens can get into the Big East.
    S-A-I-N-T L-O-U-I-S

  6. Robert, as usual, we agree. I have never been a fan of SLU hopping. They should never have left the MVC. Unfortunately, the powers that be seem to think that playing EAST Coast teams makes them a “national powerhouse”. I’d rather be able to take short road trips to watch them play. That’s one reason why I gave up my seats after they joined the A-10.

    Tyson Ross a puzzler to me too. He certainly wasn’t the worst acquisition they made last year. I wonder when De Wallet will wake up and realize that Mo is wasting his cash. TM

  7. Bob, from the get go I wanted SLU to stay in the valley. Look how many fans go to the conference tourney here. SIU series would be great again. And yes get local talent. We have plenty in the area. Tatum wanted to stay and play if Crews took his friend Jordan Barnes who was better than any of his guards. MB

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