Links 5/18

— Filed under “obviously we all know nothing about anything,” SMU fired AD (and former Navy associate AD) Steve Orsini. As an outsider, the move is a bit of a shock since it appears on the surface that all of SMU’s athletic vectors are up. This is one of those things reminding us that when all we know is what’s on the surface, we don’t really know anything at all. One writer in Fort Worth panders to his audience by wondering if TCU’s successes influenced the move. Kate Hairopoulos reports the far more likely scenario that it was more about clashes with SMU’s president, R. Gerald Turner. Whatever the reason, I can’t imagine that Orsini will be out of a job for long.

— It’s official: Old Dominion is joining Conference USA. As Navy people, a lot of us have spent considerable time in & around Norfolk and are quite familiar with ODU. This is crazy! In a good way, though. I’ve only recently become used to the idea of the Monarchs having a football team. But a I-A team? Bananas. I’d say to get them on the schedule, but that’ll be hard to do once Navy is in the Big East. But it HAS to happen, right? Meanwhile, Pete Medhurst wonders what it means for the future of the CAA.

— Pre-Snap Read continues with its look at every I-A program, including Navy opponents Central Michigan and Troy (plus a bit more on Troy).

— I’m telling you, it’s consolidation.

Lafayette lacrosse coach Terry Mangan resigned. The Leopards had half of a good season in 2010. That’s about it.

A life well lived.

— Finally, I will be a guest on the Three Point Stance show tomorrow, talking Navy and the Big East and whatever else comes up. It’s archived afterwards, so you don’t need to plan your Saturday night around me. Because you know you were totally thinking about it.

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Links 5/17

— If I was going to steal money from Maryland taxpayers, I’d probably buy Navy season tickets too!

— Some recruiting bits here and here.

— CollegeSwimming.com has some accolades for Navy assistant coach Rob Lias.

— Press Box has a blurb on local football programs, and PennLive.com has a Navy preview from a Penn State perspective. Neither is all that profound, but at least it isn’t more conference expansion stuff.

LADIES DOIN’ WORK

The women’s lacrosse team beating Oregon on Saturday to clinch a spot in the NCAA Tournament for the third straight season is one more accolade in what has been a banner year for women’s sports at USNA. The team is 18-2 and went undefeated in conference play, winning their third Patriot League title in only their fifth varsity season. The other upstart women’s team, tennis, finished 20-3 and advanced to the conference finals in their third varsity season. The women’s track team just won the Patriot League championship on Saturday, while the crew team placed second the week before. The basketball team advanced to the NCAA tournament after winning their second straight Patriot League tournament. The soccer team completed another winning season, finishing 13-6-3 and advancing to the Patriot League tournament final. The swimming & diving team set a meet record in winning the Patriot League before moving on to their first ECAC championship. The cross country team won the Patriot League championship and placed 7th at the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional Championship, their highest finish since 2000. Our cup runneth over.

That’s a good thing, not just as a fan, but because it’s important to the school that Navy’s women’s programs have success. In order to attract high-achieving women to USNA, it’s vital to show that they can excel in an environment that has traditionally been more appealing to men. Individual women are themselves the best recruiting tool as they go out into the fleet and have successful careers, but athletics are another highly visible way to demonstrate overall kick-assness. Navy’s ladies are doing just that, putting together what might be the most successful year for women’s athletics in service academy history.

I’m not going to look it up. Let’s just accept it as fact and brag about it.

SOME CHATTER

A few things to discuss:

— The conference expansion gong show continues. Moving on from its failed merger with the Mountain West, Conference USA is adding five teams: North Texas, FIU, Louisiana Tech, UTSA, and UNC-Charlotte. Old Dominion also reportedly has an invite, but is mulling things over. The Sun Belt added Texas State and Georgia State to make up for its losses. In a move that was long anticipated, San Jose State and Utah State made their way to the Mountain West.

The departure of Louisiana Tech, UTSA, Texas State, SJSU, and Utah State on top of those that have already left means that the WAC is pretty much dead as a football conference. Only Idaho and New Mexico State remain, and the future looks pretty bleak for them as those two might be the first casualties of the haves-have nots divide. Even if they intend to find a way to survive in I-A, how on earth will these guys be able to recruit? Who’s going to want to sign on for four years when they can’t be sure that there will even be a program in four years? Expect a lot of JUCO transfers for the Aggies and Vandals in the near future.

Paul Meyerberg sums it up:

As someone who grew up watching Hawaii and epic BYU-San Diego State shootouts, seeing the WAC go is a sad thing, even if those days were already long gone. There was a lot of innovation in that league, from Air Coryell, to the spread option, to the 3-3-5 defense. Even the modern WAC was fun to watch, with Pat Hill’s take-on-all-comers Fresno State teams, Boise State’s rise to the national spotlight, and Hawaii’s run & shoot for those of us who wanted our college football Saturdays to stretch into Sunday morning. Those programs are still around, but having them all in one crazy package made for a good time. Of course, the Mountain West is basically the nuWAC now, so maybe some sense of the spirit of the WAC will live on for a little while longer, just with a stupider logo.

For those of us who have been stationed in Norfolk or have been long-time residents… ODU MIGHT BE PLAYING FOOTBALL IN C-USA. How bonkers is that?

— Speaking of the Mountain West, they released their hodgepodge national television schedule yesterday. Of note is that Navy will be playing Air Force on CBS again (cool), but at 9:30 a.m. local time (lollerskates). Crazy early start times and midweek games were a driving factor for the MWC in leaving ESPN and starting their own network, but I guess beggars can’t be choosers at this point. CBS Sports Network owns the conference’s rights, but “will sub-license games to NBC Sports Network and ESPN” according to the release. Judging by television appearances, the Mountain West is made up of Boise State and the nine dwarves, with the Broncos getting 10 of their games picked up under this arrangement. The announcement includes games like Boise State at Michigan State and Air Force at Army that aren’t part of the Mountain West package, but rather the respective home teams’ TV deal. Not on the list is Air Force’s game at Michigan on Sept. 8, which will definitely be televised. It might end up on ESPN, although looking at the Big Ten schedule that week there’s a chance it’ll be on the Big Ten Network instead. Teams will be forced to look for local TV coverage for the rest of the conference’s games.

— Don’t forget the women’s lax game vs. Oregon on Saturday, which will be streamed live online for free.

Weekend of Champions

Watching the Stanley Cup Playoffs tonight (Go Caps!), I remembered that Navy is home to some new Patriot League Championships thanks to an excellent showing this past weekend. A few quick words on each:

Women’s Lacrosse – Six years ago, Navy did not have a Varsity Women’s Lacrosse team. Now Navy is home to a three-peat Patriot League champion. And as if winning three titles in a row isn’t impressive enough, the Mids went undefeated in league play this year. With a season record of 17-2 (a season opening loss at High Point and late March loss the only blemishes on the schedule), Navy now heads to Oregon for a play-in game to the NCAA tournament.

Golf – Winning the title for the first time since 2008, Navy now has 6 of the last 14 titles. And there could be no sweeter way to win it than edging out a 3 stroke victory over Army. With the win, Navy earns an automatic bid to the NCAA regionals in mid-May.

Men’s Tennis – Two championship titles at the expense of Army? In my Navy sports? It’s more likely than you think. The Navy men took down Army 4-1 in Annapolis to claim the league crown. Navy held serve on it’s #1 seed through the tourney and will now move on to the NCAA tourney, where Florida (12th seed out of 64) awaits. This is Navy’s 5th Men’s Tennis title in the last 6 years.

Not bad for a weekend, huh?

I’M NOT AN ENGLISH PROFESSOR, BUT…

Man, just when I think I’m going to get caught up on all the stuff I’ve been meaning to write, I get an avalanche of garbage to respond to that takes up all my time.

I have only myself to blame for this. Bruce Fleming, USNA’s outspoken English professor and self-appointed military expert, trots out more or less the same op-ed every year or two questioning the nature, and occasionally the existence, of the Naval Academy. A refined opportunist, he tweaks it slightly each time to maximize its effect, relating to whatever recent events he can use to suit his purpose before shopping it around to various publications. This time he exploits the Marcus Curry situation in the New York Times, telling readers that the service academies have “lost their way” and should either be “fixed or abolished.” If I was a smarter and more productive person, I would have had a canned response ready for his canned commentary. Unfortunately, my lack of foresight means that I have to start from scratch. So be it. Fleming’s argument that the service academies are on a bullet train to mediocrity is specious, relying on extrapolations based on anecdotal evidence and unfairly blaming athletes. His conclusions illustrate a fundamental lack of appreciation for what service academies are supposed to be. Continue reading “I’M NOT AN ENGLISH PROFESSOR, BUT…”

Loose Change, 3/21/08

I’m even mailing it in on my weekly links. Holy crap I suck…

  • Here’s a Q&A with Lehigh’s women’s lacrosse coach, who seems to hold the upstart Navy team in fairly high regard.
  • The Richmond Times-Dispatch had a nice little article about Chris Harris.
  • A wrestler at NAPS, Aaron Kalil, won a national title.
  • Speaking of wrestling, three Navy wrestlers have advanced to the quarterfinals of the NCAA tournament.
  • Inside Lacrosse has their analysis of Navy lacrosse’s 4-3 OT win over Bucknell here. One point here… Sean Burns says, “I don’t know exactly how a team that has made four straight NCAA tournaments and came into the season ranked No. 9 in the country can play the ‘no respect’ card, but Navy seems to be doing just that in ’08.” He then follows that up with a heading of, “Patriot League: no longer Navy’s playground.” Gee, I wonder where Navy’s getting that idea?
  • And in non-sports news, some duty driver is probably in a lot of trouble right now.

Again, I apologize for my recent funk. One day I hope to write something worth reading.