Thursday, June 28, 2007

Ask the AD, once again

As always, AD Greg Christopher does a little to help fans understand college sports in his Q&A feature on

The best answer is about whether BG can expect to improve its basketball scheduling this year. I will run his full answer, and then we will take a look at what he said.

Men's basketball statistics don't lie. Teams win 70 percent of their home games, which is why high major schools pay $40,000 to $70,000 to mid-major schools and essentially buy their way to 10 wins before conference season begins.

Here are the broad strokes of our basketball scheduling philosophy. We plan to play at least one high major team, but will be selective in trying to find a team where we can be competitive. Provided we can keep our overall budget intact, we will use some or all of the money earned from our high major guarantee game to buy a team into Anderson Arena. Keep in mind the college basketball food chain in today's landscape, the only schools willing to play at Anderson are fellow mid-majors playing home-and-homes or games we pay teams to come play us (smaller D-I schools or similar mid-majors). These games create the bookends of our non-conference schedule: one or two guarantee road games, coupled with one or two home guarantee games. The balance of the schedule will likely be other mid-majors that will agree to home-and-home agreements. Another option being explored for the future is to create triangle series - for example, BGSU plays at a Colonial school, the Colonial school goes to a MVC institution and the MVC team plays at BGSU. In these scenarios each school involved picks up a home and away game. From a budget and geography standpoint, we'll focus on conferences like the Missouri Valley, Horizon, Summit (the old Mid-Con) and perhaps the A-10. Additionally, we will also look for an annual neutral site tournament if the right fit exists. These tournaments can provide peer competition and the chance to pick up three games.

This reflects, I think, a couple of reasonable and doable ideas that will help. First, I think we get that we play one game for a cash guarantee. Regardless of whether it ends up being one we can win or not, I think the fact we are only talking one is important. This reflects a desire to keep the schedule competitive, yet not back breaking.

On the home front, he then talks about bringing one guarantee game into our place. This would, of course, be a big addition. It would be great to have at least one name opponent in AA each year during the pre-conference season.

I also like the idea of the arrangements with other conferences. I have often wondered why mid-majors--all of whom struggle with getting quality home dates--don't put together something like the Big 10-ACC challenge. I think the Horizon is a natural partner for us, except that we don't have the same number of teams. Anyway, I would love to see something like that get developed to help us get teams into AA.

I have said for a long time that scheduling is important for the fan base. When you go through your entire pre-conference schedule with little to no fan exposure to the team, it hurts the bond between the fans and the teams. As often happens, the games we do get are during breaks, which hurts student attendance.

So, I applaud the AD--both for explaining how it works, and what his goals are.

Now, here is one last thing from his post....I think this is the most refreshing part. Five years ago, the MAC and the MVC were considered comparable conference. Five years ago, MAC teams made routine runs in the Big Dance. Not now. It cannot be overstated....our conference has fallen behind other mid major conferences. Here is what the AD said:

The reality with MAC men's basketball is that things need to improve. The conference's RPI was #15 last year, behind the MVC, A-10 and Horizon. Taking into account the six BCS leagues, the MAC is the ninth-rated non-BCS men's basketball conference. The reasons for the overall conference decline the last few years are varied: facilities, scheduling and operating/recruiting budgets need to be on the list. While we work to improve these issues and others, the one sure way to improve our situation is to play competitive teams and to win games.

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