clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Cool Offseason Storyline Bro, Tell it Again: Conference Realignment and Lacrosse and Face Melting

Getty Images

Focusing the bean that sits atop your neck on some important offseason storylines. Take out your notebook or something.

Do you have your emergency conference realignment kit at the ready? I know that some basketball-only schools do, and it's a good thing -- they may be the kind of screwed that results in a loss of faith in humanity and many days muttering at one's desk, "Where did everything go wrong?" College lacrosse -- a big fat expense item on most athletic department's general ledgers -- probably isn't going to see significant impact from all this You-Shall-Have-No-God-Other-Than-Television-Money-God conference realignment that has college sports fans talking about market shares and other boring things that have nothing to do with having a blast while wearing a beer helmet.

All this change, however, isn't existing in a vacuum; Division I lacrosse is likely going some kind of residual effect.

The obvious thought here, what with athletic departments now operating as hedge funds, is that with increased revenues moving into bank accounts is that schools -- especially those in fancy BCS conferences (or whatever we'll call the affiliations once the BCS is dead and the SEC starts holding championship games on Moon Base Slive) -- will now have the resources necessary to fund additional athletic programs (like lacrosse). That's a reasonable assumption, I suppose, but it neglects one fact: If the additional money is attributed to football and football is going to continually need resources to compete at a level that brings in even more additional money, what's going to be left over for purchasing elbow pads and helmets and bus trips to schools that fanbases have never heard of? In short, all that new money attributable to football having an entertainment stranglehold on your face is going to go back into football. It's just the nature of the beast.

Where Division I lacrosse may see some gains is indirectly from all this new television nonsense. If ESPN is dumping, like, a billion dollars into the ACC, the network is picking up some additional spring sports inventory. That potential television exposure (in addition to getting visits from some of the more powerful programs in lacrosse), may be enough to get Boston College or North Carolina State to revive their dead programs. Hell, it may even be enough for Clemson and Florida State to elevate their club programs to Division I status. (Assuming either institution even stays in the ACC.)

The same thing goes for the Big Ten schools, although it's a little different: If the Big Ten Network is looking for further inventory to compete against its sports network competitors, why not give lacrosse a platform to erode the nation's preoccupation with the Patriot League, ACC, Big East, or Johns Hopkins? Is this enough to get Michigan State to push for for more exposure and give it a try again at the Division I level? It's a broadcast competition, I guess: Which network can fill its inventory best and do schools want to be part of that additional inventory and exposure? The conference realignment will determine which institution deck will be most full and appealing.

The further residue to all this is equally unfounded but potentially explosive: If there is growth necessitated or emboldened from network inventory, why wouldn't some other schools make the investment to try and grab face time in a period where exposure isn't totally overshadowed by football or basketball? These schools are impacted by conference realignment in two degrees of indirectness -- the Horizon League isn't looking to add lacrosse because of the television money; it's looking to add lacrosse because the Big Ten has a league now and, hell, why not play with the big schools and get a little pop? That thought is probably nonsense, but it's not like I'm trying to sell you a flat iron that doesn't work.

Or, of course, all this stuff that's currently happening could mean this: