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(Updated 9 p.m.) Hockey Talk: BG should join WCHA (9-29-11) PDF Print E-mail
Written by Kevin Gordon Sentinel Assistant Sports Editor   
Thursday, 29 September 2011 19:15
Bowling Green’s hockey program was on thin ice just three seasons ago.
The Falcons survived talk of having the sport dropped at the school. But now BG finds itself in another dilemma, risking isolating itself from the rest of the college hockey world.
With all of the other Central Collegiate Hockey Association schools defecting to one league or another — or in Notre Dame’s case, just leaving — the Falcons find themselves desperately in need of a home.
And the Western Collegiate Hockey Association has offered that lifeline to the Falcons.
Yet stunningly, BG’s administration has told the WCHA to wait. Not once, but twice.
Seriously?
Instead, BG’s higher-ups appear to be also trying to bring several Atlantic Hockey league schools, and perhaps even newbie Buffalo and independent Alabama-Huntsville into the fold.
In the process, they’re turning the once jewel of college hockey into a laughing stock and angering both the WCHA schools and BG hockey alums.
The WCHA is a good, solid option with good facilities and strong traditions. Recruiting won’t suffer. BG and the WCHA will still land quality recruits.
Location and travel costs would be an issue if the Falcons join the WCHA, but travel to the Atlantic Hockey schools isn’t easy, either.
Schools in the WCHA won’t help BG’s attendance grow, just as games against the Falcons won’t increase attendance at WCHA venues. Putting a good, winning product on the ice and home games against Big Ten conference schools are the only ways to draw bigger crowds.
The WCHA consists of non-Division I schools, the primary reason they want BG and its Division I vote to join the league. But all of the WCHA members are Division I hockey schools.
Spurning the WCHA for a league with Atlantic Hockey schools, etc. would be like dropping from a high level A league to a D-level league.
A league with Atlantic Hockey schools, etc. would easily be the lowest of the six Division I leagues and BG’s recruiting would greatly suffer. Good players want to play in good leagues against good competition, and Atlantic Hockey would be far from that.
Because a BG-Atlantic Hockey conference would be the lowest-rated, the Falcons probably would lose their chance of ever joining the fledging National Collegiate Hockey Conference.
The NCHC will be the No. 2 league behind the Big Ten, and BG already has its eyes on joining NCHC at some point. Why would a quality league like the NCHC ever take a team from the sixth-tiered league?
And forget about trying to get into the WCHA in the future. Turning down the invitation now likely would mean another never comes.
BG could easily become a winner by playing the Atlantic Hockey members, etc. But why be proud of beating up lower-level programs? How much would that do for the Falcon program in the long run?
Going 20-0 against awful teams doesn’t make you better. It just gives you 20 wins against awful teams.
If that was such a good idea, BG administrators would drop the football program to Division I-AA where it could play for a national championship every year.
Five years ago, BG looked down its nose at Atlantic Hockey schools. Now, they want to be one. Atlantic Hockey schools can be competitive once in a while, but ask one of them to move into the CCHA tomorrow and play Miami, Michigan, Michigan State and Notre Dame all in the same month. Want to bet they’ll win more than one game?
Just because the Atlantic Hockey schools want to increase their programs to the NCAA maximum of 18 scholarships doesn’t mean success for them, either.
If 18 scholarships guaranteed success, BG’s program wouldn’t have become one of the CCHA’s worst for almost two decades, Michigan Tech wouldn’t have become a bottom feeder in the WCHA, and Merrimack would be a power in Hockey East.
Quality facilities and financial support from the school also play in a huge role in the success of a program, and BG’s had coaching issues, too.
All the 18 scholarships mean for the Atlantic Hockey schools is they’ll continue to overpay for players. And if Atlantic Hockey is so good, why is RIT looking to leave for the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference, in the event Rensselaer flees the ECAC for Hockey East?
But BG will not be part of a six-team league, athletic department spokesman Jason Knavel said Thursday night.
“A six-team league has never been in our plans,” Knavel said.
BG has no one to blame but itself for this mess.
Other schools did what was best for them. Alaska (Fairbanks), Ferris State and Lake Superior readily accepted WCHA invites, knowing it was their best offer. But BG has let itself get so bad, that its program really isn’t wanted. Thirty years ago, BG would have been a charter member of the NCHC.
BG should have accepted the WCHA’s invitation within hours of it being issued Aug. 25. Instead, the WCHA and everyone associated with the Falcon program are still waiting.
A move to the WCHA is a no-brainer. Hopefully, BG won’t screw it up.
Last Updated on Thursday, 29 September 2011 20:55
 

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