Thats right. The CCHA, founded in 1971 with Bowling Green, OHIO, Ohio State, and St. Louis, will most likely end after the 2012-13 season. As the story broke today, I couldn't help myself but think, "wow, how did a conference that was so dominant end so rapidly over the course of ONE SUMMER?" Well lets look at the chain of events. . . .
- September 2010 - Penn State announces they will begin sponsoring varsity hockey. The CCHA, recently out Nebraska-Omaha, looks to discuss the possibility of adding Penn State (over Alabama-Huntsville) to complete the 12-team conference.
- March 21, 2011 - The day the mayhem started. The B1G Ten announces the formation of the Big Ten Hockey Conference, comprising of Penn State, WCHA's Minnesota and Wisconsin, and the CCHA's Michigan, Michigan State, and Ohio State.
- July 7, 2011 - The powerhouses left in the WCHA, and the CCHA's recently risen power Miami form the National Collegiate Hockey Conference. Notre Dame makes it clear they want out of the CCHA, and Western Michigan announces they would love to follow Notre Dame. Both conferences are down to a theoretical 5 schools each.
- July 14, 2011 - Northern Michigan is given the go from their Board of Trustees to head to the WCHA. Makes geographical sense for them. Alaska is shortly approached by WCHA.
- August 4, 2011 - WCHA and CCHA officials meet to possibly discuss merger, or futures. Nothing big comes out of it.
- This week - WCHA and CCHA meet again. All schools (minus Notre Dame) have an official there to discuss future. Talks are "good".
Now today, August 25th, we have the official "last rites" if you will of the CCHA. The remaining CCHA teams, minus Notre Dame (PLEASE keep that in mind for the rest of this story), now have 30 days to accept the invite.
So now, Alaska-Fairbanks, Ferris State, Lake Superior State, Bowling Green, and Western Michigan have to decide: Go to the WCHA or try to find another home?
As I said earlier this month, this was a huge probability to happen. However, I did not think this would happen FIRST. I thought the Notre Dame saga would play out, then the Atlantic Hockey schools would give their decision, then this would happen as a last resort. Now it is clear that the Atlantic Hockey schools will have to stay where they are, and the Notre Dame saga will continue, with more dramatics.
Alaska, Ferris State, and Lake Superior State are all expected to quickly accept the invite. Its simple, they aren't big enough, and with the exception of Ferris, they all have a team relatively close to them in the CCHA to rival against. Ferris has NO other option, and is too small to say no and go into the unknown (see Alabama-Huntsville).
Speaking of UAH, they are really in a bind. Actually, the best case scenario (which is likely), would be that Notre Dame is STILL making up their minds after the 30 days, and WMU and Bowling Green decide to go to the NCHC (which there should be an easy invite from their MAC brother Miami). If that happened, and you've been doing your math, you'd know that 6 WCHA teams right now + 3 CCHA invitees' acceptances = 9 WCHA schools. 10 is an even number, and UAH could be saved (barring some insane news from Moorehead State).
Back to the WMU, BGSU, and ND thing. I see two things happening. . . . .
- Notre Dame makes up their mind within the 30 days - This means that unless Notre Dame goes independent, WMU follows, and Bowling Green would be stupid not to accept the WCHA invite. They could maybe even be a middle of the pack team.
- Notre Dame is still figuring out their decision - WMU cannot wait forever, and if approached by the NCHC, accepts an invite to join the ranks of North Dakota, Minnesota Duluth, and Miami. Bowling Green would probably get an invite too to make it an even 8 teams. Bowling Green becomes the whipping school for the time being.
That said, if Notre Dame goes the Hockey East route, Western and Bowling Green both still could end up in the NCHC. These next 30 days should be interesting to see what not only the MAC schools will do, but also the little guys in college hockey (like how the MAC is viewed in Football).
Grab on tight and enjoy the ride.
- UPDATE 1 - Lake Superior State has accepted their invite already. Alaska also has accepted
- UPDATE 2 - Ferris State has accepted their invitation to the WCHA.
UPDATE 3 - Western Michigan has announced they are no longer basing their decision on Notre Dame's actions. Leads me to personally believe that Western will settle with the WCHA.
B1G Ten (6)
St. Cloud State