Well, if you thought our other conferences were complete mash-ups, this one will seem more odd than anything:
Northernmost school: New Hampshire
Southernmost school: North Carolina State
Easternmost school: New Hampshire
Westernmost school: Southern Illinois
Football championship venue: Fawcett Stadium, Canton, Ohio (Pro Football Hall of Fame)
Basketball championship venue: Madison Square Garden, New York, New York (aka Mecca)
Baseball championship venue: Doubleday Field, Cooperstown, New York (Pro Baseball Hall of Fame)
|Dogfish Head Division||Bell's Division|
|New Hampshire||Indiana State|
|North Carolina State||Southern Illinois|
|William & Mary|
Alright, take some time to digest that. It's sneaky intriguing right?
First of all, let me give you my original game plan, which, without trying to pat myself on the back, would have been completely awesome. What I originally wanted to do was recreate the MAC of old and combine current schools with former schools. I'd invite schools like recent defectors Massachusetts, Temple, UCF, and Marshall back to join the current 12 which would have created the #SUPERMAC and it would be completely mesmerizing. We all ate at the same dinner table before, so why couldn't we reconcile our differences and get the whole family back together?
The original idea was great, the execution was not so. I was thinking I'd get everybody pretty reasonably priced (because who the hell wants UCF and Marshall?). But, I forgot who else I was dealing with in the draft, and that they may have actually had a plan for a team in the middle of nowhere that hasn't done anything since Randy Moss and another team that went 0-12 last year.
I was happy to pick up Cincinnati, who was actually a MAC member from 1946-1953. Strong in both basketball and football, they would be the anchor of a pretty strong conference. But after UCF, Marshall, Temple, etc. went off the board at too steep of a price, I had to change strategy (aside: as a practicing accountant, I'm used to saving money and not spending it, so maybe this type of draft just isn't for me as I ended up with $185 left over).
Plan B was to build a pretty good basketball conference (since I'm foremost a basketball guy) that could also compete well in football. I started looking at teams that had pretty good mid-major basketball programs and respectable football programs, at either the FBS or FCS level. Although I think my conference would be the best FCS football conference, the basketball would be pretty awesome.
The East - named after the best craft brews on the East Coast - has probably the best mid-major basketball on the entire East Coast. While last year was a down year for teams like Richmond, UMass, and Harvard, they have all been NCAA Tournament teams recently and are usually in the conversation for the Big Dance. NC State would probably be right there for the division crown in basketball as well. For football, Richmond was in the FCS Final Four last year, beating William & Mary (and the West's Illinois State) to get there. Army should realistically drop down to FCS football to compete, while Harvard and New Hampshire have perennially strong football programs.
Which brings me to Rutgers. My mindset here was just like Jim Delaney's - gotta get that NYC cable market. Also, Rutgers needs to feel good about something, and joining a conference where they can kind of compete would be optimal. I just feel bad for them sometimes, because stupid stuff like this happens that is so Rutgers:
That's just so painful - and painfully funny to watch.
The West - named after Bell's Brewery but of course - was a division where I wanted my chosen school (Akron) to be competitive in all sports. The all-Ohio conference would have been sweet to do, but having teams like Akron, Xavier, Cincinnati and Youngstown State at least makes the division interesting. Adding in three Missouri Valley schools (Indiana State, Illinois State and Southern Illinois) brings the basketball level up a notch. These games would be super competitive, and although Cincinnati and Xavier would be at the top every year, I'd want to see Akron compete against them. Football-wise Cincinnati would dominate, but YSU, SIU and Illinois State all have solid FCS programs.
The fun part about this conference would be the rivalries. Obviously Cincinnati-Xavier jumps out because of chili and this:
If that's not a strong rivalry I don't know what is. We also get the Capital Cup between William & Mary and Richmond, which is the "South's Oldest Rivalry." Harvard-UMass is a fun rivalry in Massachusetts, while Southern Illinois - Illinois State would be intriguing out west. The Akron-Youngstown State "Battle of I-76" isn't a thing but it should be. Let's pit NC State and Rutgers as rivals, because that should be a thing and it would be oh so terrible.
While I didn't get to do what I really wanted to in rebuilding the MAC, I still feel like what came out of this is pretty solid. It rivals the Atlantic-10 and Big East basketball-wise, and while it's not a strong FBS football conference, it'll be one of the best FCS conferences when the Power 5 break away even more. While we're not a Brazen Big 10, we're surely a Mighty Medium 15.