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UND and the Changing Landscape of College Hockey

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I know there is already a thread about the new Big Ten Hockey Conference, but I'm starting this to talk about UND's option for the future.

Option 1 (Status Quo WCHA)

Essentially this option would be soldiering on as a 10 team WCHA minus Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Pros - North Dakota is the unquestioned flagship program in this conference. Maintain remaining conference rivalries.

Cons - WCHA is weakened in national exposure and historical prestige. Current conference leadership is very weak and lacks vision, has done very little in terms of innovation. League scheduling issues could arise, especially if McLeod sets up agreement with UM/UW, limiting non-conference opportunities with eastern teams.

Option 2 (WCHA on steroids)

Add Miami and Notre Dame to return to 12 team conference.

Pros - Adds two currently strong programs to existing league. League schedule would be similar to now, with Miami and Notre Dame pairing simply replacing UM/UW

Cons - Unlikely that they will join, travel would be a huge issue, and few rivalries exist. Would likely kill the CCHA or at least render it a western version of Atlantic Hockey. While new additions are currently solid, do not have a long-term track record of success. Existing conference leadership is till very poor.

Option 3 (Hockey West)

Start a new league (Hockey West) with the following: Alaska, Alaska-Anchorage, Denver, Colorado College, Nebraska-Omaha, North Dakota and British Columbia (or Air Force)

Conference schedule would be 24 games (2 series against each opponent)

Pros - Would create a first truly western conference, with room for expansion for big-name Western schools. 4 games in Alaska allows for 38 game regular season, so 14 non conference games available. UND maintains rivalries with fellow WCHA charter members Denver and CC.

Cons - No Minnesota schools in conference, could have impact on recruiting. 2 series in Alaska (although this could be mitigated by doing in a single trip). UBC is a total unknown. Conference tourney final four likely in Denver, but draw would be unknown (UND would likely still turn out a lot of fans - could pair Hockey West Final Four with a ski trip)

Option 4 (MAC Hockey)

New League sponsored by the Mid America Conference (7 of 8 members would be full Division I schools)

East - Notre Dame, Miami, Western Michigan, Bowling Green West - North Dakota, Denver, Colorado College and Nebraska Omaha

League schedule would be 18 games, with 2 series within division and single series against other division.

Pros - Maintains long-time rivalries with Denver and CC. Strength of conference would be good with most schools showing major commitment to hockey. Divisional setup minimizes travel issues. MAC sponsorship would give voting rights as all sport league same as the Big Ten (similar to MAAC prior to Atlantic Hockey). 16 non-conference games would allow for games against former WCHA foes as well as eastern clubs.

Cons - eastern division arenas all much smaller than those in west. No obvious location for neutral site conference championship. Again, no Minnesota teams in conference could have negative recruiting impact. Western Michigan has just regained footing, bug struggled substantially in recent years and Bowling Green on shaky footing.

Option 5 (Western Power Conference)

A new league forms with the following members

North Dakota, Nebraska Omaha, Denver, Colorado College, Minnesota-Duluth, Miami and Notre Dame

24 game conference slate - 2 series with each team

Pros - Incredible depth top to bottom, all programs committed to hockey, all top notch facitilies existing or soon to open. Solid potential for league TV contract (FSN North, Rocky Mountain, Ohio, Altitude)

Cons - Only 10 non-conference games to cover former WCHA rivals as well as eastern teams. No obvious site for conference tourney. Would likely force a merger of remaining WCHA and CCHA teams from them to remain viable.

Option 6 ("BYU" Option - Independence)

Become an indepenent for hockey

Pros - Could have considerable percentage of home games. Schedule could become national in scope, giving program unprecedented exposure. National scale would be very attractive to recruits and media partners. Rivalries could be maintained via non-conference games.

Cons - Scheduling could be a challenge, especially securing games later in the season. No conference tournament would mean layoff prior to NCAA tournament if there are no other independents to schedule during that timeframe. No shot at autobid if having a down season.

I think the recurring theme is that whatever future league UND is in, it will be the meal ticket in, so we should not hesitate to seek favorable conditions, much like UM and UW have done with the WCHA for all these years. Also, the schools we most need to stay aligned with are Denver and Colorado College. At this point, we have the longest history with them (due to Tech's brief CCHA departure) and they are the programs with the most success, best facilities and strongest commitment among remaining WCHA schools. The Northern Sun schools are most likely to cave in to unbalanced scheduling with Minnesota. Tech is likely to seriously consider a downgraded CCHA, where it could be far more competitive. Omaha's program is moving in the direction of the Colorado schools, and Anchorage is in a position where it will do whatever necessary to protect their program. It has few options.

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One small point. Strictly from a travel cost standpoint, remaining in a league with Bemidji, Duluth, St. Cloud and Mankato makes sense.

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I like option 1 with an option to add a couple teams down the line. Nothing gets you national exposure in hockey, like winning a championship. The WCHA has a championship history without Minny and Scony, and will continue without.

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I don't see why there is any interest in leaving the WCHA behind. It still has a tremendous history throughout college hockey. North Dakota and Denver are the top tier schools that have a lot of history and more National Championships then any other school except Michigan. The level of competitiveness is still there, too. Plus, the costs of travel are less playing all the four MN schools in the conference.

The only change in the WCHA will hopefully be MTU switching to the CCHA because it's travel costs would likely be significantly reduced there and they might have a chance at being more successful.

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Option 5. I may tweak a team or two, but I like that concept the best.

It simply amazes me how many Sioux fans on this board are perfectly content staying in a watered-down WCHA.

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I don't see why there is any interest in leaving the WCHA behind. It still has a tremendous history throughout college hockey. North Dakota and Denver are the top tier schools that have a lot of history and more National Championships then any other school except Michigan. The level of competitiveness is still there, too.

+1

Why monkey around with the WCHA when it is obviously the top conference in the country?

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One reason I would advocate leaving the WCHA is that while I believe that the conference is perhaps the best competitively (I think Hockey East is very close), I think it is very poorly run. It would be a godsend to be rid of Bruce McLeod. The WCHA has succeeded in spite of conference leadership rather than because of it.

Points were I believe WCHA leadership has let down the conference.

1. Officiating - the WCHA is noted for failing to abide by NCAA points of emphasis in officiating, putting conference teams at a disadvantage in non-conference play, and most importantly in the NCAA tournament where other officials typically call tighter games.

2. League TV contract - The league has always been content with the Gopher TV contract with Fox Sports North. Both the CCHA and Hockey East have conference TV deals (which admittedly favor certain schools in those leagues as well). Hockey East even has a deal with Rogers Sportsnet in Canada.

3. Preparing for Big 10 Conference - There is a distinct appearnance that the WCHA is crawling back to Minnesota and Wisconsin for this "scheduling alliance" Also, locking in more games will severely limit other non-conference games. Non-conference games (and winning them) are crucial in gettting teams into the NCAA tournament. An alliance only helps the departing schools fill their schedules while hurting WCHA teams chances of reaching the NCAA tourney.

4. Lack of vision/creativity - McLeod has done nothing innovative to promote the league. In fact the league stymied efforts to have WCHA matchups in both Wisconsin outdoor games, instead allowing attention to be focused on the "Big 10" matchups each time. The WCHA seems content to allow the Big 10 to lead the way and the WCHA will simply follow along. UND should demand more than that.

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As a traditionalist, I really hope we maintain conference affiliation with the long-time rivals we have left. Denver, CC, and hopefully Michigan Tech will remain. The team from HOughton is down currently (and have been for a while) but the Sioux have a long-standing affiliation with them.

If Michigan Tech were to jump and go with other schools like Lake Superior State, Western Michigan, and others of the CCHA ilk, I would be bummed. For what it's worth, the MacNaughton Cup might go with them because that may not necessarily beong wo the WCHA, but to the conference that Michigan Tech (the overseer of the Cup) is a current member of.

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As much as i dislike some of the Old Tyme regiem in the WCHA (Commisioner and refferies) and would like to see a little house cleaning, I think that leaving the WCHA would be harmful to UND and to College Hockey as a whole. The smaller programs rely on games against UND, UM, DU and the like to bring in crowds for their games and I don't have any numbers but I would bet that a lot of these hockey programs at SCSU, Mankato, UMD are paying a lot of the bills for their athletic departments. Playing those teams doesn't hurt us, it is a good way to have the ups and downs of a college schedule and it allows us to be in better health come March.

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Option 5. I may tweak a team or two, but I like that concept the best.

It simply amazes me how many Sioux fans on this board are perfectly content staying in a watered-down WCHA.

Does UND have an obligation to do the right thing for college hockey? Just because the Big 10 schools don't care that they might be undermining several programs, should UND not care? UND should consider doing the "right thing" not because it might help those other programs, but because it will ultimately be beneficial to UND to have a healthy college hockey landscape.

Conference power grabs don't offend me in the bigger sports, because football and basketball programs aren't going anywhere. College hockey is fragile, though. If UND pushes for and gets a superconference, several programs could struggle and fold. Also, a superconference that competes with the Big 10 would have the same strutural flaw the Big 10 risks: not enough weaker teams to balance out a schedule.

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Does UND have an obligation to do the right thing for college hockey? Just because the Big 10 schools don't care that they might be undermining several programs, should UND not care? UND should consider doing the "right thing" not because it might help those other programs, but because it will ultimately be beneficial to UND to have a healthy college hockey landscape.

Conference power grabs don't offend me in the bigger sports, because football and basketball programs aren't going anywhere. College hockey is fragile, though. If UND pushes for and gets a superconference, several programs could struggle and fold. Also, a superconference that competes with the Big 10 would have the same strutural flaw the Big 10 risks: not enough weaker teams to balance out a schedule.

Thank you for this.^

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Does UND have an obligation to do the right thing for college hockey? Just because the Big 10 schools don't care that they might be undermining several programs, should UND not care? UND should consider doing the "right thing" not because it might help those other programs, but because it will ultimately be beneficial to UND to have a healthy college hockey landscape.

Conference power grabs don't offend me in the bigger sports, because football and basketball programs aren't going anywhere. College hockey is fragile, though. If UND pushes for and gets a superconference, several programs could struggle and fold. Also, a superconference that competes with the Big 10 would have the same strutural flaw the Big 10 risks: not enough weaker teams to balance out a schedule.

+1

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To be honest I could care less about having weak teams to "balance" out the schedule. I think thats a cop out in any sport. You wanna be the best, beat the best. I would rather be in an extremely tough conference top to bottom than a conference with good talent at the top and teams like Mich Tech at the bottom. Ya it will be harder to make the postseason, but you also will see alot more teams from a conference like that make the NCAA tournament just based on pairwise and the TUC (teams under consideration). Not to mention a better conference means better tv deals, which means more money for the school. It also would help with getting more games nationally televised and would help with recruiting. I don't know about you but if I'm getting recruited to play hockey I would rather play in a conference with the big dogs as opposed to being big fish in a little pond. JMO

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Does UND have an obligation to do the right thing for college hockey? Just because the Big 10 schools don't care that they might be undermining several programs, should UND not care? UND should consider doing the "right thing" not because it might help those other programs, but because it will ultimately be beneficial to UND to have a healthy college hockey landscape.

Conference power grabs don't offend me in the bigger sports, because football and basketball programs aren't going anywhere. College hockey is fragile, though. If UND pushes for and gets a superconference, several programs could struggle and fold. Also, a superconference that competes with the Big 10 would have the same strutural flaw the Big 10 risks: not enough weaker teams to balance out a schedule.

The "caring" thing for UND to do is join the CCHA, as they badly need programs with fans. Or offer the gophers and sconnie WCHA spots to Alaska and UAH, which would greatly help those programs. Should UND athletics write a check to the Lake State, Tech, and NMU departments to help keep them going? If Notre Dame and Miami leave the CCHA, are they more villainous than Mich, Mich St, and Ohio St?

The Big Ten Hockey Conference formally closed the the Father Knows Best 1950's hockey era. It's practically been eons since Michigan Tech was always competitive. Each school helped create its own present circumstances. The case could have been made long ago that the Michigan DII teams need to form their own small dog league, which would at least give them a chance of winning and gaining a NCAA slot with an autobid.

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To be honest I could care less about having weak teams to "balance" out the schedule. I think thats a cop out in any sport. You wanna be the best, beat the best. I would rather be in an extremely tough conference top to bottom than a conference with good talent at the top and teams like Mich Tech at the bottom. Ya it will be harder to make the postseason, but you also will see alot more teams from a conference like that make the NCAA tournament just based on pairwise and the TUC (teams under consideration). Not to mention a better conference means better tv deals, which means more money for the school. It also would help with getting more games nationally televised and would help with recruiting. I don't know about you but if I'm getting recruited to play hockey I would rather play in a conference with the big dogs as opposed to being big fish in a little pond. JMO

Go back and study the history of Division I college hockey. This is a sport that is on thin ice. As I've pointed out, "we" are only 58 teams, and this may kick a couple of those to the curb. Rock the boat just a little bit and a few more schools may say to heck with it and fold their teams, too.

Then, yes, it will be tougher to get into the NCAA tournament, because there won't be one. You do realize there used to be NCAA championships at all three levels, right? And that the number of DI teams hasn't always been so small?

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One reason I would advocate leaving the WCHA is that while I believe that the conference is perhaps the best competitively (I think Hockey East is very close), I think it is very poorly run. It would be a godsend to be rid of Bruce McLeod. The WCHA has succeeded in spite of conference leadership rather than because of it.

Faison was on with Tim and Swyg this morning. He said that he and other ADs are not happy with WCHA leadership.

Now maybe I misheard this, because it was kinda slipped in while talking about the future of the conference.

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Faison was on with Tim and Swyg this morning. He said that he and other ADs are not happy with WCHA leadership.

Now maybe I misheard this, because it was kinda slipped in while talking about the future of the conference.

Maybe Gino can Commish a new western/mid-western alliance?

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Go back and study the history of Division I college hockey. This is a sport that is on thin ice. As I've pointed out, "we" are only 58 teams, and this may kick a couple of those to the curb. Rock the boat just a little bit and a few more schools may say to heck with it and fold their teams, too.

Then, yes, it will be tougher to get into the NCAA tournament, because there won't be one. You do realize there used to be NCAA championships at all three levels, right? And that the number of DI teams hasn't always been so small?

I have been basically saying the same thing for some time, what's stop teams like LSSU, BGSU, FSU, WMU to just say screw this were done, they can't hardly fill their arenas now. They are state schools in Michigan which is broke. I think the Big Ten of Hockey is a short sighted idea.

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Does UND have an obligation to do the right thing for college hockey? Just because the Big 10 schools don't care that they might be undermining several programs, should UND not care? UND should consider doing the "right thing" not because it might help those other programs, but because it will ultimately be beneficial to UND to have a healthy college hockey landscape.

Conference power grabs don't offend me in the bigger sports, because football and basketball programs aren't going anywhere. College hockey is fragile, though. If UND pushes for and gets a superconference, several programs could struggle and fold. Also, a superconference that competes with the Big 10 would have the same strutural flaw the Big 10 risks: not enough weaker teams to balance out a schedule.

What exactly is the "right thing for college hockey"? Look, the Big Ten move has now happened, that won't be undone. Would it be so terrible to see additional realignment that would group schools that have similar goals and dedicated similar resources to hockey.

The bottom rungs on the WCHA standings have been pretty similar for the last few years. Wouldn't it be better to let those teams join with some of the similar teams in the CCHA and pursue an autobid and have some winning seasons.

Bemidji and RIT have shown that you can do some damage if you can actually get in the tournament. Would a Michigan Tech or a Lake State be better off in a league teams of similar facilities and budgets with a legit chance at the autobid, than simply being in the WCHA/CCHA and struggling year after year. Success can also restore the fan base and health of such programs. And with a number of smaller conferences, you will have increased non-conference play to maintain most of the past rivalries, just on a slightly less frequent basis. On the plus side, more intermingling schedules will result in a more useful and accurate Pair Wise and ensure that the right teams get the at large bids at the end of the year.

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What exactly is the "right thing for college hockey"? Look, the Big Ten move has now happened, that won't be undone. Would it be so terrible to see additional realignment that would group schools that have similar goals and dedicated similar resources to hockey.

The bottom rungs on the WCHA standings have been pretty similar for the last few years. Wouldn't it be better to let those teams join with some of the similar teams in the CCHA and pursue an autobid and have some winning seasons.

Bemidji and RIT have shown that you can do some damage if you can actually get in the tournament. Would a Michigan Tech or a Lake State be better off in a league teams of similar facilities and budgets with a legit chance at the autobid, than simply being in the WCHA/CCHA and struggling year after year. Success can also restore the fan base and health of such programs. And with a number of smaller conferences, you will have increased non-conference play to maintain most of the past rivalries, just on a slightly less frequent basis. On the plus side, more intermingling schedules will result in a more useful and accurate Pair Wise and ensure that the right teams get the at large bids at the end of the year.

I like the idea of keeping the status quo (minus Minnesota and Wisconsin). In the end, with schools like North Dakota, it's all about championships. If we have even a slightly off year in a super-conference of teams like Denver, Miami, CC, Duluth, and Notre Dame, we may not even get in the NCAA Tournament. Yes, realigning conferences is nice for the small schools because they'd get a chance to compete for a title, which they very well may (like RIT), but the same could be said for a team like North Dakota if they manage to have to sneak into a Tournament as an underdog...I like our chances even as an underdog. If anything, add Miami and Notre Dame, but that adds problems of its own (travel related)

Also, if we stay in a conference with the smaller Western schools, it maintains some quality play in the league for the little guys, giving the added benefits of the good teams playing them (in other words, more money). We would be looked at like the good guys. If we bail on them, we are no better than the Big Ten thugs.

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Other than Minny and Wisco, aren't we all little guys? If they want to leave for supposedly greener pastures, let them... We've been in this conference forever and there's no reason to bail now...the biggest challenge is gettting the WCHA leadership to start thinking bigger and for the future...that means bye-bye Brucie... :)

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Other than Minny and Wisco, aren't we all little guys? If they want to leave for supposedly greener pastures, let them... We've been in this conference forever and there's no reason to bail now...the biggest challenge is getting the WCHA leadership to start thinking bigger and for the future...that means bye-bye Brucie... :)

Yes Please!!!!

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