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Why George Mason staying and VCU leaving makes sense, at least for right now

George Mason Basketball: Why George Mason staying and VCU leaving makes sense, at least for right now

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Why George Mason staying and VCU leaving makes sense, at least for right now

At the beginning of the CAA-Atlantic 10 rumors it was widely assumed that both George Mason and VCU were a package deal to make the jump. As if to say that both schools were on the same page with budgets, athletics, and other considerations. Well they're not and they are both currently at different stages in their athletics programs, especially when it comes to men's basketball. VCU is riding the hot hand right now, and you can't blame for them for making this move when they have the nation's most talked about mid-major program and coveted, young coach in Shaka Smart. George Mason is trying to rebuild a name for itself as it's been six years since their Final Four run and are now under Paul Hewitt, who didn't make the post season in his first season.

Let's break down the key factors that most likely went into each school's decision:

Money on the table. George Mason is set to get their final big payout from the money they earned in the 2006 NCAA tournament on July 1st. With upgrades planned for some of their facilities it's no surprise they don't want to pass on this money. VCU on the other hand won't collect the $5 million from their 2011 tournament run now that they are leaving. They believe the added exposure and level of competition in the A10 will make it easy to recoup such funds by regularly making the NCAA tournament. With Shaka Smart staying and prized recruits coming in, the move makes sense for the Rams while George Mason is just not in that same position at the current time. It's still a gamble for VCU, but they are willing to spend money on athletics and George Mason isn't quite on that level right now.

Uncertainty in college basketball realignment. This is probably the best argument for George Mason staying in the CAA, for at least next season. Who knows what else will happen this summer in conference realignment, rumors of the Big East breaking apart could send ripple effects across multiple conferences. What if Louisville and others bolt from the Big East and the A10's best programs are raided? Suddenly the A10 doesn't look so strong without the likes of Xavier, Dayton, or even St. Louis. VCU is better positioned to handle this kind of situation and seem to be annually poised for an at-large berth as long as Smart is still around. Is George Mason confident they can make the NCAA tournament regularly without a strong conference and a regular chance to grab an automatic bid? No way they can be as confident as VCU is right now about that. The point is that George Mason is waiting for the dust to settle with everything and they will reassess their conference affiliation again next season. That could very well end up being the smarter play.

Level of competition. With Butler now joining the Atlantic 10 in 2013, the core of that conference compared to the CAA is on a different level. The CAA has been a three team league for years now and last season proved how the level of competition isn't always great. VCU thinks they can handle the added competition in the A10 and maybe George Mason doesn't think they can. George Mason is regularly at the top of the CAA and in position to compete for the automatic bid. It would be a struggle to maintain that in the A10. Just look at last season's A10 tourney, St. Bonaventure ended up winning. You can't blame Mason's officials for wanting to stay in a conference they could continue to compete in compared to a conference they could end up finishing 8th in regularly. Personally I would have wanted to see George Mason put themselves up for the challenge of competing in the A10 but I do see why this may have been a factor in their decision.

One way to look it is this, George Mason is sitting back and watching what happens with the conference realignment business because they don't feel they need to make a move right now. Let VCU be the guinea pig and if it works out who is say that Mason can't join the A10 or some other conference in a year or two? They aren't chained to the CAA for life and will certainly have less obligation to stay after July 1st. VCU wants to strike while the iron is hot and you can't blame them for doing so. Who knows how long they will be able to keep Shaka Smart and will they be as attractive to other conferences after he has left Richmond? This isn't the end of the story for George Mason and the CAA by any means.


Anonymous Benjamin Bradley said...

Maybe I will be proved wrong in the future (don't think so), but I'm actually glad VCU is gone.  I think with all the wacky stuff that will happen with realignments in the next 1-3 years, the CAA (and GMU) will be better off.

9:58 AM  
Anonymous Chris Paleczka said...

I agree that there are so many unknown's, it could actually work out for GMU.

With that said, the rest of the facts are a moot point if the A-10 actually picked VCU over GMU so that they could eventually end up with 14 teams in 2013. 

10:27 AM  
Anonymous dsnjd1 said...

All good points....I wonder who the CAA is looking to "poach" as replacments for Ga. State, VCU and most likely ODU?

10:45 AM  
Anonymous Sarah said...

A point forgotten, if the Big East does raid the A-10, doesn't it leave VCU with a great opportunity to end up in the Big East? George Mason is taking a huge chance by being left on the sidelines. I think there is just as much risk in life by avoiding fears; i guess some people would rather live like a lamb than roar like a lion. It's not right or wrong, but a different perspective on life.

11:12 AM  
Anonymous Christopher Hirsch said...

Nice to see you come off the ledge a bit.

12:24 PM  
Anonymous StopWearingPurple said...

What this is not is a step forward.  At best case its remaining in place; however, if everyone else moves forward then you are essentially moving backwards.  Nice try on the positive spin, but I am not buying.

12:32 PM  
Anonymous Eric Mills said...

On the other hand, what if a New Big East asks Mason to join, instead of VCU? Lots of possibilities and unknowns.

1:32 PM  
Anonymous Chris Paleczka said...

From what I've heard/read.

The possible additions of Stony Brook, New Hampshire and Maine. Other schools on the CAA radar: Georgia Southern, Appalachian St. (long shot), Western Carolina, Coastal Carolina, Hartford, Boston U. or Albany. America East, be ready to get raided by the CAA. Edit

1:33 PM  
Anonymous Matt_LC said...

The only way we don't come out on the wrong side of this is if the Big East raids the A10.  If VCU becomes a part of that Raid they will win again, if not they still will probably have a better conference than a CAA (if without ODU) with only two really solid teams Mason and Drexel.

All this stuff about a better CAA w/o VCU is garbage.  You need to be in a league with solid competition to be ready to play good, hard games in March.  Look at the commitment VCU has made in moving, believing they can be in the upper tier of the A10 instead of worrying about being 8th!  If there was an argument that this move would be bad for soccer, track, and swimming then I might have some respect for it but I haven't heard that and those programs while good, haven't done what basketball has and can do.  I hope we continue to get game v VCU, love to hate them, and they are a respectable program so why wouldn't we want to play them?

Overall it's disappointing but for the moment it is where we are so we better be able to beat Drexel with greater offensive fire power and plenty of big bodies next year.  If ODU is out then the only other dangerous team is Delaware who didn't graduate anyone and were playing well late.  UNCW has guys leaving, NE and Hof. still haven't really reloaded.  Yes we may still have PG issues!

1:35 PM  
Anonymous Rick Jank said...

"Tis better to remain quiet and be thought an idiot than to open your mouth and remove all doubt."  If we had gone/been selected for the A10, next year would likely have been an "open mouth remove doubt" situation.  I'm just not sure we are that far along with the new coaching and the players themselves to be very successful as an A10 team next year.  Now, the year after that may be an entirely different story: if you look at our roster two years down the line, you'll see a lot of junior and senior talent.
But this year it may be entirely better to "remain quiet."  That is, to hang in the CAA and compile an impressive W-L record, even if a lot of the wins are hollow.  A couple of key wins could even give us at large consideration.  Let the pundits figure out where to seed us, but we have a better shot at a bid next year via the CAA as opposed to the A10 where there will be many more opportunities to collect losses.
And of course the icing on the cake will be a CAA tourney without a %$#*ing home team playing in it!!!!

2:20 PM  
Anonymous Dont_Block_me said...

I dont think it would be a gamble to go to the A-10. Actually according to your logic, it is more of a gamble to stay in the CAA.

1)We are taking a chance the Big East might fall apart and send teams to the A-10.
----So what. Better competition, more exposure. Hewiit can recruit athletes who can keep up with the competition.
2) We know exactly what we are getting into with the CAA. ODU and VCU leaving. the conference is now a joke. Once again mason will watch others flourish while we sit back and do nothing. 

I do agree about the money issue. It is hard to leave when you know you are guaranteed money.

10:32 AM  
Anonymous Benjamin Bradley said...

My prediction is that VCU goes 17-15 next year and doesn't make the tourney... Mason goes 24-8 and makes the tourney.  10 months from now we will know the truth! :)

10:34 AM  
Anonymous Matt_LC said...

It's not just about next year it's about an overall commitment to better basketball.  Which clearly is not a priority!

11:33 AM  
Anonymous Dont_Block_me said...

Premiere universities are premiere
across the board. And that includes athletics. The A-10 has strong profile in
the athletics and academics. Bad mistake Mason.

12:13 PM  
Anonymous Chris Paleczka said...

they could also go 23-9 and still make it as an at-large. Something a CAA team would never get. 

12:56 PM  
Anonymous Chris Paleczka said...

Heck Xavier went 23-13 and made it as an at-large 10 seed. 

12:58 PM  
Anonymous Masonfansince03 said...

Although I hate the fact that Mason is stuck in CAA as much as everyone (or more as I have already put my deposit down for season tickets next year), when everyone keeps saying "bad misstake Mason" for not going to the A-10, you all are forgetting Mason didn't make the decision, we weren't invited.  True, Mason made awful decisions after the F4 run that caused us not to be invited, but the fact is that we weren't invited, so you can't hate on mason for not making the right decision when there was no decision to be made (unless something happened in the background between Mason and the A-10 that we aren't aware of, and in that case, hate away!).

1:33 PM  
Anonymous Matt_LC said...

Yeah but I think most people think we didn't get the invite as a result of poor decisions.

1:38 PM  
Anonymous 93Patriot said...

I'm not so sure we weren't are taking TOC's word on that and I have a hard time believing it. Remember, the insiders that were leaking this story months ago and again more recently said the A10 was absolutely interested.  I think it was the CAA commisioner, in the end, that was able to pressure Mason into staying and we turned down the A10.  Either way, we will never know the truth because it is in no one's interest to actually give the truth.  I just would not base my opinion on the PR line from TOC.

2:16 PM  
Anonymous novavaboom said...

Didn't Mason's run to the final four begin as an at-large CAA pick?  So it does happen.  Well, maybe it happens more often when we have a person on the selection committee...but still, "would never get" might be a bit strong.

10:43 AM  

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