Sunday, November 09, 2008

Alabama-Huntsville to Replace UNO in the CCHA?

Interesting article on the Denver Post website. Mike Chambers is reporting in his blog that the conferences may be realigned in order to get rid of the 4-team CHA, which currently gets an auto bid. Under the plan mentioned, Niagara and Robert Morris would join the AHA, giving them 12 teams. Nebraska-Omaha and Bemidji State would join the WCHA and Alabama-Huntsville would replace UNO in the CCHA.

It would be a great move for UNO. By virtue of joining the WCHA, they would immediately become 5x better.

I've always kind of liked playing UNO. I'd be sorry to see them go. And I'm sure everyone would be just thrilled about making the trip down to Alabama. Additionally, aren't UNO and UA clustermates? Would they really want to have the two teams that are furthest apart playing each other four times a season? Huntsville and UA are only 4,100 miles apart (or 2 days, 22 hours by car, not that they'd drive or anything).

Alternate ideas:
WCHA adds Bemidji, Huntsville, and UNO
CCHA adds Alaska Anchorage


WCHA adds Bemidji and Alaska Fairbanks
CCHA adds Huntsville

Either way gets both Alaska teams in the same conference, which is probably how it should be. You'd have another solid in-conference rivalry and I don't think it'd be that tough to schedule teams to make trips to Alaska two weeks at a time. It wouldn't be that often that you'd have to go up there. And a team wouldn't have to potentially go to Huntsville and Alaska in the same year.

I think I like the second option personally (and I don't think I'm biased since I'm not the one making the trip to Alaska, so I'm not trying to just get rid of it). You get the Western teams in the WCHA, and we keep the more "central" teams.

Anybody else have realignment ideas?


SyracuseWolvrine said...

I'd be a bit disappointed to see UNO leave. I've actually made the trip to Omaha twice ('01 and '03, if memory serves correctly). Both times, I was treated with nothing but respect by the vast majority of the UNO fans. Rick, Jon, Greg, Matt, Alex, Steph, and the rest of the UNO fans took time, not only during the games to greet the visiting Michigan fans, but also took time to show us around the city, and act as our hosts. Those folks are some of the best, and most devoted fans in the CCHA. It will be a BIG loss for the league to see UNO in the WCHA.

Anonymous said...

While I would absolutely hate to see UNO leave, I do think it makes the most sense in trying to centralize the conference. Which is obviously part of the ultimate goal in disbanding the CHA. Travel costs between UNO and UAH will be similar for all but the Yoopers, who will actually spend more with this realignment.

In the same vein, swapping Fairbanks with Tech would make sense. However, that scenario has almost zero chance of playing out. Travel costs do weigh into that argument, as every WCHA team will incur additional expenses traveling to Alaska an additional time each season, while Tech's costs would increase as well. Besides, I think it's obvious that Tech is happy where they're at, even if they may stand a chance at a better record in the CCHA. It just depends on their own priorities for the program.

Therein lies the rub with either conference taking on the other Alaskan school. Unless every single team can schedule both schools in sequential weekends, they're making two trips each year. Even then, they'll be spending a week and a half up north away from classes. Travel costs incurred by the other 10 schools will skyrocket. It's just not a feasible option, in my opinion.

While I hate seeing UNO secede to the W, I think the participating schools, conferences, and the NCAA have this right.

Anonymous said...

how about alaska and UNO to the wcha. alabama to ccha, and move michigan tech from wcha to ccha

Anonymous said...

Nice to see Eric posting again. How's Mickey?

I'd like to see both of the alaskan schools aligned in a new west coast conference. It makes absolutely no sense to have either one playing in a midwest or eastern hockey conference.
They both have been nominally successful.

UNO on the other hand, has been a strength to the CCHA. Terrific fan base and strong financially. It makes sense for them to move, but it doesn't make sense to me to trade a teetering UAH for UNO. The rich get richer and the CCHA keeps getting stuck with the stray dogs. Besides, the W already rejected UNO. Screw them and screw MTU for not wanting to join the CCHA, where the would have natural Yooper rivals.

Just my humble opinion.

Craig Barker said...

One quick note: I believe the Alaska trips are paid for (for X players and coaches) by the State of Alaska, so the cost is not necessarily higher, just the amount of time to get there.

Anonymous said...

I am not sure if that applies anymore, Craig. That was a condition of accepting UAF into the conference, but I think it had a statute of limitations.

Either way, it is a grind on the players- especially this season with a trip out to Boston and the CHS, plus the other league trips- NMU, Miami, OSU, split weekends with MSU, Ferris, WMU...

Anonymous said...

Being from Omaha I'd love to see the move. It would make away games more appealing. I would leave the alaska teams where they are for NOW and maybe even shuffle some teams around in an effort to reduce the ccha to 10 teams and form another conference to replace the cha. try to make each conference geographically wise and limit them to 10 teams.

Anonymous said...

I'm a graduate of UAH, but I don't live in Huntsville anymore. If I were the CCHA I think I would require UAH to have an on-campus arena in the works before they are considered for entry. Huntsville has a small(1500-2000) group of hardcore fans and they are averaging around 3000 attendance this year. But they are treated like second class citizens at the arena they share with the minor league team. For the last 6 years or so they have had to play most of their Saturday games at either 1 or 3 in the afternoon. That has killed their attendance. They used to sell out the arena (6700) on occcasion back when they were D-II.