Hope on the hardwood? The Citadel begins the 2012-13 basketball season

Note: as I mentioned earlier, I’m participating in “Scanning the SoCon”, a cross-blog/forum exercise. As part of this, there will be a preview for each league school. I am writing the preview for The Citadel, which you can read below (it is being posted on Mocs Mania! as well, of course). Previews for the other conference schools can be found here: Link

There were three topics (attendance, polls, and ratings) that I wanted to discuss in more detail but couldn’t quite fit into the preview. I’ve decided to write about them next week in a followup post.

The Citadel was 6-24 last season, 3-15 in the Southern Conference. Thus, it surprised no one that in the SoCon preseason polls (media and coaches)  the Bulldogs were picked to finish last in the South division of the league. Indeed, The Citadel received fewer votes than any team in the league, in either division.

The last time The Citadel finished dead last in both preseason polls was prior to the 2008-09 season. The Bulldogs had gone 6-24 the previous year, in head coach Ed Conroy’s second season at The Citadel. More of the same was expected, but instead the Bulldogs won 20 games for only the second time in school history, 15 of them coming in league play. It was the finest season on the hardwood for The Citadel in 30 years, and one of the best in school history.

Just like Ed Conroy in 2008-09,  Chuck Driesell is entering his third season in charge of the Bulldogs after enduring a 6-24 campaign. Conroy brought in eight scholarship freshmen for his second season; so did Driesell.

However, there are differences between then and now. Conroy’s batch of freshmen included a player who would be named Freshman of the Year in the Southern Conference, Cameron Wells, and another (Zach Urbanus) who finished the year as a solid contributor. None of the freshmen who played last year for The Citadel (two were redshirted) had a season as good as Wells’ initial campaign for the Bulldogs.

That isn’t to say that significant improvement can’t be made. I suspect it will. However, the same can be said for the Southern Conference in general. I expect the league to be better than it was last year, as many of the better players from last season are returning in 2012-13.

It’s only one statistical category, but I couldn’t help but notice that ten of last season’s top thirteen SoCon performers in Ken Pomeroy’s “offensive rating” system (minimum 20% possessions used) are back this year. That group of ten doesn’t even include established performers like Trevis Simpson, Lucas Troutman, Trent Wiedeman, and a couple of Cochrans (Wofford’s Karl and Davidson’s Nik).

The league is going to be tough this year. Can the Bulldogs hang in there? If they are going to do so, they must first address some obvious shortcomings.

The Citadel was a very poor defensive team last season. Mike Groselle was the only consistent rebounder on the squad (though he was good enough to lead the league), and only three teams in all of Division I allowed opponents to shoot a higher percentage inside the arc (55.7%) than the Bulldogs.

That carried over into league action, although The Citadel wasn’t the worst defensive outfit in the conference in SoCon play, in part thanks to opponents’ three-point shooting (only 30.3%). Three league teams allowed more points per possession than did the Bulldogs in conference games.

However, the Bulldogs struggled on the offensive side of the court in conference play more than any other SoCon team, and by a wide margin, scoring only .907 points per possession in 19 league games (18 regular season matchups plus the first round of the SoCon tourney). The Citadel shot just 31% from outside the three-point line in league action and also had the worst turnover rate in the conference.

One positive: when the Bulldogs did score, it often came as a result of good team passing (The Citadel was second in the league in its ratio of assists to made baskets).

Mike Groselle had an outstanding season in 2011-12. Groselle led the league in rebounding and was second in scoring, being edged for the SoCon scoring crown by UNCG’s Trevis Simpson (who attempted 151 more shots from the field). Groselle was a very efficient performer (59.1 eFG%), and persevered despite being the focus of every opponent’s game plan.

He did everything well, basically, and made the 10-man all-conference team selected by the league coaches. However, Groselle did not make the media’s All-SoCon first team, an omission that was not easy to understand.

For the Bulldogs to improve this year, Groselle is going to need help. Will he get any?

When I watched The Citadel’s freshmen in action last year, I came to the conclusion that while several of them had promising skill sets, they just weren’t strong enough to handle the adjustment to Division I hoops. There is a chance that a year of physical maturity (and a lot of work in the weight room) will improve the Bulldogs’ rebounding numbers and alleviate some of the turnover problems that plagued the team last year.

C.J. Bray is a good example. The 6’7″ Bray is athletic enough to have been offered a football scholarship to Arkansas, and he can present matchup problems with his ability to float outside and hit the three-point shot. I thought he showed good instincts on the boards, too, but he wasn’t able to corral every rebound chance that came his way.

That may change this year. If he can also provide solid post defense, he will be a great help to Groselle. Bray started more games than any other Bulldog freshman last season (18). Another rising sophomore who goes by his initials, 6’8″ P.J. Horgan, saw limited action last year and may also be a factor in the frontcourt rotation.

Lawrence Miller shot 42% from three-point land last season, better than his overall field goal percentage (39%). He will probably get first crack at the 2-guard spot for the Bulldogs. Ashton Moore, who started 14 games last season and played more minutes than any other freshman, will also be in the mix. Moore is capable of putting the ball in the basket (30 points against UVA-Wise) but needs to be more consistent.

The point guard for The Citadel will be Marshall Harris III, who started the final 11 games last season. Harris must cut down on his turnovers to succeed in that role, and it’s key for the Bulldogs that he do so. There is no other obvious candidate to play the point, as DeVontae Wright transferred to USC-Aiken this summer. Moore could be an option, and one of the freshmen may get a look.

Wright was one of three underclassmen to transfer after last season. Jordan Robertson, a forward who showed flashes of potential last year, is now at Davidson County Community College. He was the only one of last year’s group of freshmen to leave. The third player to transfer, Barry Smith, moved on to Bethune-Cookman.

The two seniors on last year’s team, Cosmo Morabbi and Bo Holston, both graduated. Holston had one year of athletic eligibility remaining, and elected to play as a graduate student at Anderson. In all, players no longer on the roster accounted for 42% of the minutes played last season.

There are seven players on this year’s roster who have yet to appear in a Division I game — four incoming freshmen, two redshirt freshmen, and a fifth-year transfer student.

The most heralded of the “knobs” is Matt Van Scyoc, a 6’6″ wing player who led the state of Wisconsin in three-point shooting last year. Van Scyoc averaged 24.3 points and 13.3 rebounds per game his senior season and was an all-state selection in Wisconsin’s Division 5 high school classification.

His fellow classmates include 6’3″ swingman Raemond Robinson, a Goose Creek product who was also an outstanding high school football player. Robinson is used to winning, both on the gridiron and on the court; perhaps he can bring that kind of positive energy to The Citadel’s hoops squad (much like John Brown did during that aforementioned 2008-09 campaign).

Janeil Jenkins and Quinton Marshall each signed late in the spring. They are both guards, but of markedly different sizes; Jenkins is 5’10”, while Marshall is 6’5″. Chuck Driesell mentioned Marshall in a recent interview with Jeff Hartsell of The Post and Courier as someone who might get to play early.

Two of the eight freshmen from last year did not see any action in 2011-12. Dylen Setzekorn is a 6’7″ wing on the slender side (194 lbs., per The Citadel’s website). 6’9″ forward Michael Hundley is even thinner (180 lbs.). It is easy to see why both were redshirted.

Hundley has a reputation as a shotblocker. If he could get on the court with that skill, it would be a huge boon for The Citadel, which hasn’t had a true shot-swatter since Kirill Misyuchenko patrolled the lane for the Bulldogs in the late 1990s.

The final player on The Citadel’s roster is something of a wild card. Stephen Elmore is a 6’6″, 220-lb. graduate student who saw limited action at Princeton…as a baseball player. The 2012-13 campaign will be his first (and last) taste of college basketball, at least as a player.

He is the son of Len Elmore, the well-known college basketball commentator who was an outstanding college player at Maryland (and who had a solid NBA career as well). Driesell described Stephen Elmore as “a power forward who can shoot the three-pointer”. I have no idea what kind of impact (if any) he will have for the Bulldogs.

The Citadel’s non-league slate is about what you would expect for a team that only won six games a year ago and includes two games against non-Division I competition. The Bulldogs will open the season by hosting the All-Military Classic, which also features VMI, Army, and Air Force.

The Citadel squares off with VMI in its first game, on the same day the Bulldogs play the Keydets in football — in Lexington, VA. It’s a scheduling quirk that I think is unfortunate.

There are no home games in December, which is a little strange. The Citadel is playing “guarantee games” against Georgia Tech, Clemson, and…St. Bonaventure. I’m not sure why the Bulldogs are making the trip to Olean, New York, but at least Andrew Nicholson has moved on to the NBA.

In what I believe is a first, The Citadel is participating in Bracketbusters this season. Other out of conference games include a home contest against Radford and road games versus Charleston Southern and Gardner-Webb.

I will be curious to see how Chuck Driesell handles tempo this season. Driesell prefers a faster pace than that implemented at The Citadel by Ed Conroy, but he was forced to slow things down last season in an effort to stay competitive. In that respect, he succeeded. The Citadel’s two late-season victories over Chattanooga and Appalachian State featured fewer possessions than any other games the Bulldogs played during the season.

I think a slower tempo is generally what works best for The Citadel, but it’s obviously not a style Driesell really enjoys, and I don’t know what his approach will be this year. His best player (Groselle) is probably best suited for games with a more restrained pace.

It’s just one of many things that makes this season for The Citadel a very interesting one. I’m not predicting a year like the 2008-09 campaign, but I believe the Bulldogs are going to surprise some people. The team has to make the leap from being competitive to winning games. It’s a difficult transition, but I think the talent is there to make that jump.

2012 College Football TV Listings, Week 10

This is a list of every game played during week 10 of the college football season involving at least one FBS or FCS school.  All games are listed, televised or not.  For the televised games (only live broadcasts are listed), I include the announcers and sideline reporters (where applicable).  I put all of it on a Google Documents spreadsheet that can be accessed at the following link:

College Football TV Listings 2012, Week 10

Additional notes:

– I include ESPN3.com games; they are denoted as “ESPN3″.

– I’ve listed the regional network affiliates for the SEC Network “national” game of the week (Tulsa-Arkansas) in a comment on the document.  There are numerous local affiliates, a listing of which can be found here:  Link

– The ACC Network has a “split national” telecast this week, with two games.

Local affiliates for Virginia-North Carolina State can be found here: Link

Local affiliates for Georgia Tech-Maryland can be found here: Link

– I’ve listed the regional nets carrying the SEC Network “regional” game of the week (Troy-Tennessee) in comments on the document.

– I’ve listed the regional nets carrying the ACC Network “regional” game of the week (Boston College-Wake Forest) in comments on the document.

– The local affiliates for two Southland Conference Network games can be found at the following links: McNeese State-Nicholls State (Link) and Northwestern State-Central Arkansas (Link)

– I’ve listed the regional network affiliates for the Big East Network game of the week (Syracuse-Cincinnati) in a comment on the document. A listing of local affiliates can be found here: [Link when available]

– Also listed on the document in a comment are the regional nets carrying the following games: Houston-East Carolina, Kansas-Baylor, and James Madison-Maine.

– There are comments in the document with additional information for several other games.

– ABC/ESPN2 coverage maps for the noon ET and 3:30 pm ET games: Link

– BTN (formerly Big Ten Network) “gamefinder”:  Link

– BCS Standings (FBS):  Link

– FCS Coaches’ Poll:  Link

A lot of the information I used in putting this together came courtesy of Matt Sarzyniak’s alarmingly comprehensive and completely indispensable website College Sports on TV, which cannot be lauded enough. It’s a must-bookmark for any fan of college sports, to say the least. Also to be credited, as always, are the indefatigable information gatherers (and in some cases sports-TV savants) at the 506.com.  I am also assisted on occasion by helpful athletic media relations officials at various schools and conferences.

Game Review, 2012: Wofford

Wofford 24, The Citadel 21.

Links of interest:

Game story, The Post and Courier

Notes, The Post and Courier

Kevin Higgins’ postgame presser (video), with James Riley

Game story, Spartanburg Herald-Journal

Box score

I don’t really have a lot to say (or write, I suppose) about this game that hasn’t been said already. It was close, and the Dogs made a lot of good plays. They just didn’t make enough of them.

It’s hard to win on the road when you spot a good team 17 points, although to be fair The Citadel did not play poorly in the first half. There were a few bad breaks, and also some missed opportunities.

Odds and ends:

— I felt that offensive pass interference could have been called on Wofford on the pass that preceded the field goal; if it had been called, the Terriers would have only led 21-7 at halftime instead of 24-7. As it was, Domonic Jones actually got a piece of the ball on Wofford’s field goal, but it went through the uprights anyway. You don’t see that every day.

— The Citadel suffered yet another major injury on Saturday, as left guard Keith Carter ruptured his Achilles’ tendon. I was worried when I saw him sitting on the bench during the game. His absence on the o-line will be felt. Carter is a fine player and also serves as one of the team’s captains. He is having surgery on Friday.

— The bye week gave the coaches a chance to add a few new plays to the offensive repertoire. I would like to see that inside trap run (not sure what else to call it) more often going forward. It was frequently effective, and has “breakaway” potential, too.

— James Riley’s first game as a Bulldog was quite impressive. He had 12 tackles, with 2.5 for loss (including a sack). You could make an argument that he was the best defender on the field, for either team.

— It was nice to see The Post and Courier send a reporter and a columnist to the game. I would assume Clemson playing on Thursday night may have had something to do with that, but no matter.

In his column, Gene Sapakoff wrote: “Hopefully, head coach Kevin Higgins gets an extension on a contract due to expire after the 2013 season.”

While it is true that the Bulldogs have improved, contract extensions generally aren’t an immediate priority when the team has lost four of five contests, including one to an opponent the head coach has not beaten in eight tries, and with three games still remaining in the season.

That isn’t meant to be a slap at Kevin Higgins, by the way. He may eventually get an extension, and he may well deserve it.

I’m just suggesting that folks at The Citadel may not appreciate Sapakoff making such a pronouncement, particularly as his forays into the world of Bulldog athletics are limited at best.

— At the game on Saturday I was sitting in the stands next to a friend of mine. Midway through the third quarter he turned to me, gestured to the home stands and said, in an exasperated tone, “Those people don’t deserve their team.”

The statement was perhaps a bit harsh, but I knew where he was coming from. It was a largely docile crowd for major portions of the game.

There were 9,658 fans in attendance, the most people to see a game at Gibbs Stadium all season. That high-water mark could be attributed to homecoming, and to a sizable number of blue-clad fans in the visitors’ section.

The atmosphere at many football games can be described as festive or intense; at Wofford, it is pastoral.

Having said that, I enjoyed my trip to Spartanburg. I didn’t like the final score, but you can’t have everything.

Okay, pictures. I took a ton of bad photos on Saturday. My ability to take out-of-focus shots is almost unmatched. The least  embarrassing of the lot can be found below.

2012 Football, Week 8: The Citadel vs. Wofford

The Citadel at Wofford, to be played at Gibbs Stadium in Spartanburg, South Carolina, with kickoff at 1:30 pm ET on Saturday, October 27.  The game will be streamed on ESPN3.com, with Darren Goldwater providing play-by-play and Paul Maguire supplying the analysis. It can also be heard on radio via the twelve affiliates of The Citadel Sports Network. Danny Reed (the “Voice of the Bulldogs”) will call the action alongside analyst Josh Baker, with Lee Glaze roaming the sidelines and Walt Nadzak providing pre-game, halftime, and post-game commentary. 

Links of interest:

The Citadel game notes

Wofford game notes

SoCon weekly release

The Kevin Higgins Show (following the game against Western Carolina), Part 1 and Part 2

Kevin Higgins’ 10/22 press conference quotes

Mike Ayers on this week’s SoCon teleconference

Parking map for Gibbs Stadium

Catching up with…all-SoCon punter and fisherman Cass Couey

Catch up with Darien Robinson, too

This is the sixth time in the last seven years the game between The Citadel and Wofford will be on TV and/or ESPN3.com. It has been on SportSouth, it has been on SCETV, and now it’s on ESPN3, the second time the Bulldogs have been on that streaming service this season.

Paul Maguire was the analyst when The Citadel played NC State, and he will be again on Saturday. During the NCSU game he claimed in jest that his partner in the booth, Mike Gleason, was the offspring of Jackie Gleason. Perhaps this week he will try to suggest that Darren Goldwater is the son of Barry Goldwater. We can only hope.

While I can’t find the records (which is driving me crazy), I believe that The Citadel has only won one televised game during the Kevin Higgins era. It would be nice to turn that around this weekend.

Kevin Higgins has had no answers for Wofford. In the seven games the Bulldogs have played the Terriers since he became head coach of The Citadel, Wofford has won by an average score of 34-14, never failing to put at least 28 points on the board. It doesn’t matter if the Terriers have been good or bad (the 2009 team was 3-8 but still beat The Citadel by 26).

Last year, I wrote about what I felt was a possible lack of defensive aggression for The Citadel when it plays Wofford. In last season’s matchup, Wofford did not commit a turnover, and also was not penalized. That’s a rare combination. Of course, Wofford almost never gets penalized against The Citadel.

In the last four meetings between the two teams, the Terriers have committed a total of five penalties, for thirty yards (and one of the penalties was an intentional delay-of-game to set up a punt).

While I think the Bulldog D needs to be more aggressive, I am not sure it can afford to be. As everyone knows, The Citadel is starting to run out of linebackers, with Yemi Oyegunle the latest to be lost for the season. Oyegunle has a torn groin muscle, which does not sound particularly pleasant.

Getting the injury-ravaged defense ready for Wofford is going to be a tall order, even with an extra week to prepare. I am not overly confident on that front, especially after watching Western Carolina’s offense go up and the down the field against the Bulldogs two weeks ago.

One positive I came up with after crunching some numbers: The Citadel has generally not let a loss to Wofford ruin the rest of the season. The Bulldogs are only 2-5 during Higgins’ tenure after losing to the Terriers, but the overall record post-Wofford in that seven-year time frame is a respectable 13-13.

Wofford leads the league (and the nation) in rushing offense, at 408.3 yards per game. The Terriers also lead the SoCon in total offense, scoring offense, punt return average, field goal percentage (a perfect 8-8), offensive third-down conversion percentage, turnover margin, and both “red zone” offense and defense scoring percentage.

Wofford is second in the conference in offensive pass efficiency, penalties, and offensive sacks allowed (no surprise that the three league triple option teams are 1-2-3 in the last category).

All of that is very impressive, and goes a long way to explaining the Terriers’ 6-1 record. The only caveat is Wofford’s early-season schedule did not feature particularly strong opposition. Wofford has played Gardner-Webb, Lincoln (a Division II school located in Pennsylvania), Western Carolina, Elon, Furman, Georgia Southern, and Appalachian State (in that order).

The Terriers rushed for 402 yards against Gardner-Webb and actually increased their rushing yardage totals for each of the next two weeks. That isn’t easy to do when you start off with a 400-yard effort. Wofford rushed for 449 yards against Lincoln and a staggering 590 yards versus Western Carolina.

The following week, Elon “held” the Terriers to 500 yards rushing. Running back Eric Breitenstein had a 321-yard rushing day for the Terriers in that game. Rushing totals for Wofford in its last three games: 303 (against Furman), 221 (Georgia Southern, a game the Terriers lost 17-9), and 393 (Appalachian State).

Nobody has stopped Breitenstein yet this season. He only carried the ball five times against Lincoln because there was no need to use him, but he has rushed for at least 150 yards in four of Wofford’s other six games, and ran for over 100 yards in the other two contests.

While Breitenstein has been a constant, Wofford is going to be challenged over the remainder of the season to maintain its offensive efficiency, due to the loss of some key players due to injury. Left tackle Calvin Cantrell will miss his second straight game on Saturday due to a concussion, while slotback Donovan Johnson and backup quarterback Michael Weimer (who has played quite a bit for the Terriers) are also not expected to see the field.

Jared Singleton, Wofford’s center, is hurt but listed on the two-deep and will probably play. Left guard Tymeco Gregory also got banged up in the game against Appalachian State, but is expected to start.

The injury list for Wofford extends to its defense, as linebacker Kevin Thomas (who has started three games for the Terriers and is third on the team in tackles) will not play against The Citadel. Another linebacker, Phillip LeGrande (who has started all seven games), also may not play against the Bulldogs. Defensive end Zach Bobb started Wofford’s first five games of the season, but injured his knee against Furman and is out for the season.

Wofford placekicker Christian Reed missed the game against Appalachian State with a quad injury but is listed as the starter on the two-deep for this week’s contest. Punter Kasey Redfern replaced him against the Mountaineers and made his only FG try (29 yards).

There is a touch of uncertainty with Wofford’s injury list. For example, while Todd Shanesy of the Spartanburg Herald-Journal tweeted that Weimer would be out for the game against the Bulldogs, he is still listed on the depth chart. Just keep that in mind.

If Weimer doesn’t go, that doesn’t mean starting quarterback Brian Kass will play the whole game, according to Mike Ayers. Third-string QB James Lawson will likely get some snaps on Saturday.

Incidentally, Wofford has had eighteen different players carry the ball this season. Twelve of them have at least one rush for more than twenty yards.

Among other Terriers of note: offensive right tackle Jake Miles (a preseason all-SoCon selection), outside linebacker Alvin Scioneaux (also a preseason first team pick), and inside linebacker Mike Niam, a force when healthy (he has suffered multiple knee injuries while at Wofford).

Fellow inside linebacker Mike McCrimon leads the Terriers in tackles. Defensive end Tarek Odom’s 40-yard fumble return for a TD sealed the Terriers’ win over Appalachian State. E.J. Speller is a 290-lb. redshirt freshman nosetackle who is having a fine season; he will be a key factor on Saturday.

Wofford’s defense held each of its first four opponents under 100 yards rushing. Last week, the Terriers held the Mountaineers to 106 yards rushing (363 total yards).

Odds and ends:

— Wofford’s sideline reporter for its radio broadcasts is Van Hipp, Jr. If that name sounds familiar to Low Country residents, it’s because he ran for Congress about two decades ago. Hipp wound up in a primary runoff for the seat in the 1st Congressional District, but lost to a political newcomer named Mark Sanford.

— Saturday’s game will be Wofford’s Homecoming, which means The Citadel will play in two consecutive Homecoming games, Wofford’s and its own.

— Wofford is undefeated this season when it loses the coin toss (4-0).

The 1959 game between The Citadel and Wofford was the last game in the series to be played in Orangeburg, at the County Fairgrounds. The game was played on “Big Friday” and only drew 8,000 spectators, a disappointing showing that probably led to the end of neutral-site contests between the two schools. The Citadel won 40-8; six different Bulldogs scored touchdowns in the game.

Wofford would not play The Citadel again until 1967, possibly because of a disagreement between the two coaches, Eddie Teague of The Citadel and Wofford’s Conley Snidow. Snidow accused Teague of running up the score, a charge the Bulldogs coach vehemently denied.

Not only did Snidow complain about a late touchdown scored by The Citadel (even though the TD came after Wofford had fumbled the ball on its own five-yard-line), he belittled the Bulldogs’ victory, saying it came against one of his lesser squads. There may have been some previous bad blood between the two men, as The Citadel had already announced it was suspending the series.

The 1967 contest was the only time The Citadel played Wofford between 1959 and 1975.

By the way, the main photo accompanying the game story features “Broadway Billy” Hughes, and the first paragraph of the article itself describes teammate Billy Whaley as “The Citadel’s vice president in charge of touchdowns”. Ah, those were the days.

For anyone wondering, Paul Maguire did play in the game. He did not score, but caught three passes for forty yards and punted three times, averaging 43 yards per kick.

I’ll be honest. I don’t have a good feeling about the upcoming game, not from The Citadel’s perspective. While Wofford is struggling with injuries of its own, the Terriers have more than their fair share of proven depth. They have options.

Meanwhile, the Bulldogs are painfully thin at linebacker, a problem exacerbated by (in my opinion) less than optimal play by the defensive line in recent weeks. If The Citadel is going to have any chance of winning Saturday’s matchup, the d-line has to make big plays. That hasn’t really happened in the last month or so.

Anyone who saw the game against Western Carolina has to cringe at the thought of the Bulldogs’ D versus an experienced (if beat up) offensive line and a steady quarterback like Brian Kass, with Eric Breitenstein ready to break loose at any point (he has 12 runs of 20+ yards already this season).

Am I pessimistic? Well, yes.

However, the team has to take a more positive approach. Wofford isn’t invincible, and the Bulldogs don’t need to play a perfect game to win on Saturday. They just have to play very, very well.

I’ll be in Spartanburg on Saturday. I may have my doubts, but I’ll be there. The Bulldogs were good enough to beat Georgia Southern and thrash Appalachian State in Boone. The potential is still there.

Now let’s make something of it.

College Football TV Listings 2012, Week 9

This is a list of every game played during week 9 of the college football season involving at least one FBS or FCS school.  All games are listed, televised or not.  For the televised games (only live broadcasts are listed), I include the announcers and sideline reporters (where applicable).  I put all of it on a Google Documents spreadsheet that can be accessed at the following link:

College Football TV Listings 2012, Week 9

Additional notes:

– I include ESPN3.com games; they are denoted as “ESPN3″.

– I’ve listed the regional network affiliates for the SEC Network “national” game of the week (Mississippi-Arkansas) in a comment on the document.  There are numerous local affiliates, a listing of which can be found here:  Link

– The local affiliates for the ACC Network “national” game of the week (North Carolina State-North Carolina) can be found here:  Link

– I’ve listed the regional nets carrying the SEC Network “regional” game of the week (Massachusetts-Vanderbilt) in comments on the document.

– I’ve listed the regional nets carrying the ACC Network “regional” game of the week (Brigham Young-Georgia Tech) in comments on the document.

– The local affiliates for two Southland Conference Network games can be found at the following links: Sam Houston State-Lamar (Link) and Stephen F. Austin-McNeese State (Link)

– I’ve listed the regional network affiliates for the Big East Network games of the week (Temple-Pittsburgh and Kent State-Rutgers) in a comment on the document. A listing of local affiliates can be found here: Link

– Also listed on the document in a comment are the regional nets carrying the following games: Texas-Kansas, TCU-Oklahoma State, and Baylor-Iowa State.

– There are comments in the document with additional information for several other games.

– ABC/ESPN2 coverage maps for the 3:30 pm ET games: Link

– BTN (formerly Big Ten Network) “gamefinder”:  Link

– BCS Standings (FBS):  Link

– FCS Coaches’ Poll:  Link

A lot of the information I used in putting this together came courtesy of Matt Sarzyniak’s alarmingly comprehensive and completely indispensable website College Sports on TV, which cannot be lauded enough. It’s a must-bookmark for any fan of college sports, to say the least. Also to be credited, as always, are the indefatigable information gatherers (and in some cases sports-TV savants) at the 506.com.  I am also assisted on occasion by helpful athletic media relations officials at various schools and conferences.

“Scanning the SoCon”: a brief explanation

Last season, I participated in something called “Scanning the SoCon”, a multiple-school blogging exercise on Southern Conference basketball run by Mocs Mania!, a blog devoted to UTC hoops. This year, it has been expanded to include participants from all twelve SoCon schools (even the CofC).

I’ll be providing a preview of The Citadel’s 2012-13 hoops campaign in about a week. What I’ll probably do is post it here as well have Mocs Mania! post it; I haven’t quite figured that out yet, to be honest. (I also haven’t figured out when I’m going to have the time to do it, but that’s my problem.)

All twelve schools will be previewed over the next couple of weeks, as the season draws closer. Here is a link to the “preview page”: Link

Also, if you were wondering where all these preview writers are from: Link

The first preview was posted today. It’s about Elon, and was written by a writer for that school’s student newspaper.

The Citadel’s first game on the hardwood is on November 10, which is right around the corner. The Bulldogs host VMI that day, and yes, it’s the same day the football team plays at VMI. As far as scheduling quirks go, it’s not the most ideal.

I just hope the Bulldogs go 2-0 that day…

Conference realignment, SoCon style: the College of Charleston is (probably) heading to the CAA

Update: Conference realignment, SoCon style: Is it nitty-gritty time?

I wrote about potential changes in Southern Conference membership over the summer. Now, something has actually happened…

After a somewhat contentious meeting, the College of Charleston’s Board of Trustees voted 12-5 “to begin negotiations with the Colonial Athletic Association”:

The board met for 90 minutes before passing a resolution to open official talks with the CAA. The resolution, which passed by a 12-5 vote, does not guarantee the Cougars will join the nine-member league. The College of Charleston has been in the Southern Conference since 1998.

The final vote is expected to come at the board’s next scheduled meeting in January, although a vote on the school’s athletic conference affiliation could come before the start of the new year, according to board members.

While it’s not guaranteed that the CofC is moving to the CAA, it’s all but assured, barring some unexpected problems in the negotiations.

The biggest immediate issue for those negotiations, it appears, is travel expenses. While some observers thought the estimate put forward by the school was too high, others within the college weren’t sure it was high enough.

I think the CofC’s move was “sold” to some of the BOT members as part of a larger migration from the SoCon to the CAA, a shift that would have created a “CAA South” division with Davidson and one or more of Appalachian State, Elon, and Furman.

When Davidson decided to stay in the Southern Conference, that scenario essentially ceased to be a possibility. As a result, the CofC had to recalibrate its travel expenses.

The move by the CofC, assuming it comes to pass, is being made almost exclusively for the benefit of the men’s basketball program, platitudes by the school’s president notwithstanding. For the school’s other varsity sports programs, it is basically a wash, with the notable exception of baseball, which will suffer greatly from the transition.

However, while none of those other programs really mattered in the decision, they did provide good drama. At the occasionally confusing BOT meeting, board member and baseball supporter Jeff Schilz had this to say:

This move is made assuming there’s more money in the CAA. This is a men’s basketball decision and they would have to reach goals they haven’t reached in a while.

Schilz wasn’t finished. He also opined that “our athletic programs have been ignored by the [CofC] administration” and questioned the stability of the CAA, at least as compared to the SoCon.

All of the above quotes came in the BOT meeting. The proceedings were “live-tweeted” by several different media members, a very 21st-century (and cool) development. One of the more interesting tweets came from WCIV-TV sportscaster Scott Eisberg:

Schilz says he knows 1 sport that will lose 4 recruits if they go. Audible to me,Natasha Adair says,’what abt teams that will gain recruits’

Adair is the new women’s basketball coach at the College of Charleston. I wouldn’t advise inviting her and Schilz to the same party.

I don’t know if the move will be a good one for the CofC. I tend to doubt it, but I could be wrong. At any rate, the school has every right to make a mistake. It’s the American way.

When you shake out all the pluses and minuses (exposure, travel, recruiting, etc.), it comes down to this: is the CAA really a multi-bid league? Because if it isn’t, the CofC leaving for basketball reasons but staying in a one-bid league is very hard to justify. I suspect that Davidson passed on joining the CAA at least partly because it wasn’t sure the CAA would regularly put two and three teams into the NCAA tournament.

Since 1987, there have only been three years in which the CAA received at-large bids: 2006, 2007, and 2011 (when it got two at-large bids). While that recent run does suggest upward mobility for the conference, two of the three schools largely responsible for that success have left (Virginia Commonwealth) or are leaving (Old Dominion) the league.

The other school that has carried most of the league’s water in hoops, George Mason, could easily bolt for the Atlantic 10 if that conference made an offer. (There have also been football-fueled rumors about James Madison and/or Delaware eventually leaving the CAA.)

Last season Drexel won the CAA regular season title (with a 16-2 conference record) and advanced to the league tourney final, but did not get an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament, thanks in large part to an unbalanced league schedule and a poor non-conference slate. If a 16-2 CAA team can’t get an at-large berth in the NCAAs (and that was with VCU and ODU in the conference), then it seems unlikely the Colonial will be a multi-bid nirvana going forward.

 —

Okay, so the CofC is (probably) gone. It’s just as well, too, given Joe Hull’s comments about the Southern Conference earlier last month. As soon as the diplomacy-averse Hull made his remarks, I believe every fan and journalist affiliated in some way with the league pointed out that the school hasn’t won the “invisible” SoCon in hoops this century.

What does the College of Charleston leaving mean for the SoCon…and what does it mean for The Citadel?

The league has three options: A) do nothing, B) add one school to replace the CofC, or C) add three more schools to get to 14.

Moving to 14 schools would be a way to solidify the SoCon in the short-term while protecting the league from the eventual departures of Appalachian State and Georgia Southern, assuming those schools get an invite from an FBS league in the near future.

I want what is best for The Citadel. Is what is best for The Citadel also what is best for the league? Maybe.

At this time, I don’t see why the league has to expand to 14 schools, although there are indications that is a possibility. I also don’t think it’s absolutely vital to immediately find a twelfth member. The league can afford to wait.

Appalachian State and Georgia Southern don’t have their FBS tickets punched yet, and may still have to wait a while (particularly GSU). I think league decisions should be made based on the general idea that both schools will be around for at least another year, but will leave in the next five years or so.

The SoCon’s biggest membership issue is that it is made up of several different groups of schools which have competing interests — from the smaller schools, to the larger ones, to the universities west of the Carolinas, to the institutions that don’t have scholarship football programs.

The league has historically always been a mishmash of schools, of course. However, trying to get everyone to agree on potential “adds” for the conference could prove especially problematic right now.

It has been suggested in various places around the internet that a “compromise” could be in the works, one that would be agreeable to the smaller school bloc (most of the private schools, plus The Citadel) and the larger schools (App State, GSU, etc.). This would result in the league moving to 14 schools by adding one private and possibly two larger public schools, in an effort to appease the bigger schools and also the institutions west of the Carolinas (which want company on their side of the league).

I don’t think that would be in the best interests of The Citadel. Depending on the schools involved, it also would be close to anathema for Furman and Davidson. I find it hard to believe Davidson would have elected to remain in the SoCon knowing there was a good chance the conference would be adding multiple schools with significantly different institutional profiles.

As for the other schools in the league, I am less certain. For example, take the North Carolina universities. Elon is a bit of a wild card; I’m not going to even try to guess what its decision-makers may be thinking. UNCG is a non-football school with limited history in the league. Western Carolina is a smaller public school (as compared to Appalachian State and Georgia Southern) in a relatively remote location.

I’ve seen all kinds of schools mentioned as possible new SoCon members. Some of them may have little to no interest in joining the league; some of them would name all their incoming freshmen after John Iamarino in order to get in the club. Below are my comments, opinions, etc., about a few of these schools. Remember, I’m doing this with a bias. I want what is best for The Citadel.

Do I have insider knowledge on any of this? Nope. If you read something on the internet from someone who claims to have insider knowledge on any of this, should you believe that person? Nope.

Let’s start with the favorite to be the next school to join the SoCon.

– Mercer: mentioned by an actual media person, Adam Smith, who seems to have a decent handle on SoCon info. Would make sense on a lot of levels. Mercer is just starting its football program, which will begin as a non-scholarship entity. Still, a natural replacement for the football-free CofC.

Negatives: no scholarship football (yet). Could be blocked by larger schools that want the aforementioned compromise so as to jam two or three big public universities into the league.

After Mercer, there are no obvious picks.

– Virginia Military Institute: left the league a decade ago. Would probably like to come back. I could see all the privates plus The Citadel favoring VMI’s return.

Negatives: league currently has nine football schools, and a nine-game SoCon schedule could be tough to implement. The alternative is to not have a round-robin.

Another consideration is that VMI has been terrible in football for 30 years. That counts (and is why it left the league in the first place). I could see VMI making a return to the SoCon when App State and/or Georgia Southern depart. If the league went to 14, I am not sure VMI would be one of the three additions.

– Coastal Carolina: ah, here comes controversy…

This is the school many of the larger state schools want in the league (at least, their fans do). So which schools are not so crazy about CCU joining the SoCon? That would be Furman, The Citadel, and Davidson. I am not as sure about Wofford, although I would think it would be in the same group.

From the perspective of The Citadel and Furman, adding another, larger South Carolina school with a different mission and budget is a complete non-starter (and another Palmetto State school also may not sit well with Samford and Chattanooga). It doesn’t benefit either S.C. school. I also suspect longtime SoCon types look at Coastal Carolina and think “Marshall II”, and one Marshall was enough for a lot of people.  That may be unfair to CCU, but it’s reality.

Also, I don’t think Appalachian State’s and Georgia Southern’s wishes (in terms of new members) should even be considered by the other schools. App and GSU have stated they want to leave, and they eventually will, which is fine. However, why should the schools remaining in the conference make a decision on league membership for the benefit of schools that aren’t going to be in the SoCon much longer? That would be stupid.

– Kennesaw State: reportedly discussed in the league’s meeting in June. From an April article in the Marietta Daily Journal:

One of the big challenges for Kennesaw State’s athletic programs will be to find a conference before the football team kicks off its inaugural season since the Owls’ current conference, the Atlantic Sun, does not sponsor football. [New Kennesaw State AD Vaughn] Williams said he has had some preliminary conversations with representatives from the Southern Conference and the Ohio Valley Conference about joining their leagues in the future.

I could see Chattanooga and the other state schools in favor of Kennesaw State, which I suppose would be part of a three-school add-on, with Mercer and some other institution. KSU won’t start its football program until 2014. It would basically be like adding UNC Charlotte to the league.

Would adding such a school to the SoCon be in the best interests of The Citadel? Not really. Could it happen? Sure. Trying to get into the Atlanta market would be the major justification for inviting Kennesaw State.

– South Carolina State: allegedly was also discussed at the (surely infamous) June league meeting. It is hard to imagine the league seriously considering SCSU, which has a host of institutional problems, including serious financial issues. SC State has had more school presidents in the last five years than Western Carolina has had league victories in football.

I also have my doubts that it would be in South Carolina State’s best interests to leave the MEAC in the first place.

– Tennessee Tech: located in Cookeville, Tennessee. Public, but on the small side (around 10,000 undergraduate students). Would appeal to Western Carolina, Chattanooga, and probably Samford. Whether or not the conference wants to venture any further from its current geographic footprint is open to question.

As far as The Citadel is concerned, it is probably a more palatable option than any of the above-mentioned schools save Mercer and VMI. Tennessee Tech is in the OVC and I am not sure why it would want to leave that league.

– William & Mary: would be a great get, but is not happening unless the CAA implodes, and even then W&M’s first choice would likely be the Patriot League.

– Richmond: would only join the SoCon as a football-only member if the CAA dropped football sponsorship, as UR is happy to have its hoops program in the A-10.

I don’t see any school joining the SoCon as a football-only member. I saw a report suggesting Kennesaw State might be interested in this option. That should not happen, and I don’t think it will.

– Presbyterian: another Palmetto State school, which is PC’s biggest problem. Furman and Wofford aren’t interested in “elevating” the Blue Hose.

– Jacksonville: I wrote about JU in September of 2011, when I previewed The Citadel’s football season opener against the Dolphins that year. JU has potential (and a good market), but it’s another non-scholarship football program.

– Jacksonville State: wants to go FBS, like App and GSU. I don’t see the point of adding a member school like that. I doubt JSU does either.

– Liberty: see the entry for Jacksonville State.

– East Tennessee State: dropped football, dropped out of the SoCon. Now may want back in, though it still doesn’t have football. I’m not sure how serious a possibility ETSU is as things currently stand. Would not be the first choice for any of the current league members with the possible exception of Chattanooga.

A few other schools have been mentioned in passing, including Gardner-Webb, High Point, Murray State, Winthrop, Eastern Kentucky, North Alabama, and West Georgia. I don’t see any of them as realistic options for the SoCon (though I could be wrong).

A slightly different question: is the College of Charleston leaving the SoCon good or bad for The Citadel?

The real answer to that question is “to be determined”. Ultimately, though, it will depend on two things:

1) Which (if any) schools replace the CofC in the league

2) What (if anything) The Citadel does to take advantage of the CofC leaving

The Citadel has something to say about the first item, and everything to say about the second.

If the school(s) that replace the College of Charleston in the SoCon are from The Citadel’s perspective “like” institutions (smaller schools, good academics, etc.), then the CofC leaving will present the military college with an opportunity. That opportunity is greatly lessened if the new member schools do not fit that profile.

With the College of Charleston’s departure, The Citadel takes complete control of the Charleston market for the SoCon, and that’s a good thing. The Charleston area will, in my opinion, more easily identify with a football conference that has a long history, and that has “familiar” schools (like Furman and Wofford). The Palmetto State is, ultimately, a football state.

The Charleston market has also already proven over time to be supportive of SoCon baseball (with its long tenure as the league tourney host). That reminds me: it’s time for John Iamarino to step up and give the Low Country a long-term contract to host the tourney again.

Speaking of baseball, it’s possible that Monte Lee’s loss will be Fred Jordan’s gain in terms of recruiting for their respective programs.  I think Coastal Carolina may also benefit from the CofC joining a lower-tier baseball conference (and Charleston Southern will have something to say about it as well), but it won’t hurt The Citadel at all to pick up impact local recruits who want to play against quality opposition closer to home.

I also wouldn’t be surprised if a few other varsity sports at The Citadel benefit from the “only local school in the local league” phenomenon.

What The Citadel needs to do is get the message out to the local populace that the Bulldogs are the hometown team of choice, especially in a football-crazy state that also loves its baseball. It should be, to steal a term from college basketball officiating, a “point of emphasis”. I know that is already happening, but now more than ever it is a strategy that needs to be pushed.

I just named three sports in consecutive sentences. That means it is time to wrap this up…

The next few months are going to be very interesting for fans of the Southern Conference. Few other leagues have the potential for divisiveness quite like the SoCon, thanks to its disparate membership. For The Citadel, it is important that the school’s administration looks out for the school’s best interests, even if they are not in line with what league officials may propose.

This is not the time to “go along to get along”. Earlier, I mentioned three SoCon options. One of them was to do nothing and stay at eleven schools. There is nothing bad about that option right now. If the alternative is something that is not optimal for The Citadel, then the school should not be afraid to be intransigent.

We’re good at that.