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My Take with Matt Yogus - The CAA proves it can be done
Matt Yogus Web
Matt Yogus

Matt Yogus-032211

Listen to sports editor Matt Yogus read his take on the NCAA basketball tournament.


Now that’s what I call Mid-Major.

The Colonial Athletic Association just seems to get it.

Sure, the Big East got 11 teams into the 68-team March Madness basketball tournament field. That seemed ridiculous when it happened, and looks even crazier after it only took two rounds to oust nine of them (really, Louisville? Morehead State?), but people seemed more angry about the inclusion of three CAA teams than they were about 11 (I still don’t believe it) from the Big East.

But here we are, in the Sweet 16, and the Big East is down to two.

Virginia Commonwealth absolutely destroyed Georgetown and Purdue to get where it’s at.

And, don’t forget about George Mason, the darling of the 2006 tournament, which made the field this year as well. Sure, the buzz saw that is Ohio State made quick work of GMU, but only after the Patriots got a first-round win over Villanova. And there's Old Dominion, which played Butler within two.

The CAA understands that basketball’s where it’s at for a Division I Mid-Major. A win or two in the Big Dance will do more for your program than all the FCS football national titles in the world.

Don’t believe me?

The CAA has had three different football programs win a national football title this decade. Three. I wonder if Richmond - a CAA member in football and A-10 in basketball - is getting more pub right now than it did in 2008 when it beat Montana in the FCS championship in Chattanooga. What was the score of that game, again?

So it isn’t like the CAA doesn’t have a good football product. Georgia Southern saw two teams from the Colonial in the 2010 playoffs, and the CAA has sent a representative to the championship game in seven of the last eight years.

As for the Southern Conference, well, they kind of get it.

The league hitched its wagon to the Stephen Curry train when Davidson made its run to the Elite Eight in 2008. Problem is, that train has left the station, and the SoCon is still trying to ride it.

It’s easy to see why when Wofford, one of the smallest Division I schools in the country, has won back-to-back SoCon tournament titles and gone one-and-done in the Big Dance twice in a row.

So, the current darling of the SoCon is Appalachian State’s football team.

Okay. But that ship will sail, too.

Armanti Edwards is gone. GSU, Wofford and even Chattanooga are leveling the playing field, and the ASU nation would like nothing more than to pull up its roots and move to a conference that will give more exposure to its football team, anyway.

The Southern Conference doesn’t need to do much about its baseball product. It’s an excellent Mid-Major league on the diamond. The football-playing schools are what they are, and the league consistently puts out nationally competitive teams.

No. the focus needs to shift to the basketball court. Charlton Young has gotten some young talent at GSU in the last year, and Bobby Cremins and Bob McKillop have proven that top-tier players will come to the SoCon if the situation is right.

It’s a football-heavy league, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But the past has proven that Southern Conference basketball teams can play at a high level, and the future will show that teams like VCU, Richmond and even Morehead State can open the door and get you invited to the Dance if you can just go out during the regular season and prove you want to be there.


Matt Yogus can be reached at (912) 489-9408.