HOLY COW! HOLY COW! HOLY COW!
That was the only thing I can think of this afternoon when I found I was wrong and right about the whole thing.
Okay, maybe cow is not the actual word I was thinking of, but you get the point. BY the time this comes out, it will have been announced that for the 20-21 season, ASU hockey will be playing an all Big10 schedule, all on the road. Unfortunately, they will not be a part of the Big10 tournament. And does this mean, eventually joining that league as its first conference home?
I know you’re saying the same thing I said. WHAT?!
Without having any inside information, all I can think of is, A) COVID B) Illinois.
This is a complete 180. From everyone I spoke to for the past two years, there was never any real consideration by the Big10 AD’s or Presidents to add ASU as an affiliate member. They added Notre Dame as an affiliate member, but it made sense to everyone, since of where it was located. Right in the heart of Big10 territory. Football was never going to allow it to become a full member of the league, but this made some sense. Hockey East was never a real fit for the Fighting Irish. ASU on the other hand, was always looked at as the puzzle piece that never quite fit…it looks like it should, but just never did…it was a different part of the puzzle. If this is how it ends up.
So, what has happened? Well, like everything else in 2020, COVID-19. This made everyone look at everything over and over again. And based on what was announced by other schools, including schools that we cover (Denver & CC) made it seem like, if nothing else, for the 20-21 season, ASU would play as part of a temporary NCHC.
Then when the Coronavirus made schools delay or change their football schedules, the Big10 & Pac12, both decided to play football in the spring, until political pressure, financial pressure and the other leagues saying, we don’t care we’re playing, we have no government restrictions, made the two leagues look at ways for them to have some sort of a normal schedule. Maybe this made the two leagues, who have always been linked together reexamine their relationship. And part of that relationship was considering ASU as an affiliate hockey member.
And that brings us to the other point mentioned earlier. Illinois. If you have ever heard me talk about Illinois going to the D1 Varsity level. My point was and continues to be (same thing with Navy), I’ll believe it when I see it. And maybe the other Big10 athletic directors and presidents have finally said the same thing. Okay, maybe not quite that way. Maybe Illinois said, we are further away than we thought. Let’s revisit ASU. Or maybe they’re telling Illinois to make up your mind already…we are tired of waiting.
This was always the thing that made the most sense to me. Even if it took the craziness of all of the current circumstances to make it happen. The travel is relatively easy, as I have said in previous posts. Phoenix to all of those big cities in the Big10 is easy. The schools are all large public universities or big budgeted private schools (Notre Dame). There has been “fear” from the college hockey community that ASU would continue to squeeze out the smaller schools, which have been able to carve out & maintain a solid college hockey niche over the years. This, if it happens (a permanent affiliation), eliminates that. No one is worried about what ASU will do as it competes with Michigan, Wisconsin or Ohio State. There is no way, places like St. Cloud State or any of the other smaller schools were not worried about recruiting against ASU.
How was I wrong? Well, all signs were pointing to the NCHC. I have said it, I own it. I am obviously not privy to any sort of negotiations, but they clearly broke down, whatever they were. Not that I am going to lose any sleep over it. It also as I have always said, it gives ASU much easier non-conference travel, if they eventually end up in the B10, allowing DU-CC & Air Force to be non-league opponents.
So, ASU to the Big10 (sort of?). Out of the blue…Holy cow!