May 28, 2012; Foxborough, MA, USA; Members of the Loyola Greyhounds team warm up prior to a game against the Maryland Terrapins in the NCAA Division I Men's Lacrosse National Championship at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-US PRESSWIRE
Focusing the bean that sits atop your neck on some important offseason storylines. Take out your notebook or something.
Marquette and High Point are coming over to play, you guys. Take out the fancy elbow pads; we want to make a good impression on our new friends.
There are lots of things easier than entering Division I men's lacrosse (including choosing to not enter Division I men's lacrosse), but the Golden Eagles and Panthers are still going forward with their plan to raise hell with the blue bloods and whatever color blood those schools that don't have fancy national titles have. It isn't going to be easy for Marquette and High Point -- in fact, it's probably going to be face-punch ugly at points in 2013 -- but it's still better for the game that these schools are flying into the unknown with a canteen, Swatch watch, and dreams of Memorial Monday.
As Michigan showed everyone in 2012, making the move to Division I lacrosse is kind of like fighting Mike Tyson while also receiving dialysis: You're just trying to stay alive while the world around you is trying to knock you cold. Unlike the Wolverines, though, 'Quette and 'Point (is that a thing?) aren't walking into this thing with a rip-roaring club foundation, support from a large state university, and a trade name that carries more goodwill than some Fortune 500 companies. The Golden Eagles and Panthers are going to take some lumps in 2013 and the most important thing is going to be that their athletic administrations understand that the learning curve here is steep with only time and room serving as the best fixes.
Of the two nascent programs, High Point is likely going to have the toughest road to getting competitive. Unlike Marquette, the Panthers are walking into Division I without a conference affiliation, which means that they'll likely be taking games wherever they can and selling recruits not on possible trips to conference championships -- where they can get exposure and some extra games under their belts -- but on the glory of being a founding father. The Golden Eagles, contrastingly, will get trips to Milwaukee from some of the bigger names in the game, including Notre Dame, Villanova, Georgetown, and (if the Big East chooses to do so in its farewell league campaign) Syracuse. There is strong value in guaranteed games against high profile opponents in a high profile confederation, and Joe Amplo is going to be able to trade on that even though his office is located in a lacrosse outpost.
Regardless of how well or poorly each school acquits itself next season, they will be contributing to the blueprint that institutions are trying to establish in making a move to Division I. Marquette's and High Point's successes and failures should impact how Furman, Monmouth, and Boston University approach their imminent ascensions to the highest ranks of college lacrosse. There's strong value in that, even if it means lots of losses and very few, if any, Gatorade baths.