The NCAA released the official 2012 football attendance figures recently. I made this infographic to help illustrate just how much we kick ass in this department.
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In case you’re new to the site, this is the 4th (and final) article in a series where I discuss conference realignment related e-mails that I obtained through a FOIA request on Georgia Southern. (See: Article 1, Article 2, Article 3)
This time we’ll be looking at 2 emails, 1 from MAC commissioner Dr. Jon Steinbrecher and another from Sun Belt commissioner Karl Benson.
This email (labeled “confidential” at the bottom) was sent from the MAC commissioner to all of the MAC athletic directors on Jan 8, 2013 @ 7:11AM. That was a full 8 days before the SDSU announced it would back away from moving to the Big East/Big West and remain in the MWC. He forecasts this development and makes some predictions on future MWC/Big East movements.
The main quote to take away is:
Based on discussions I have had with the commissioner of the Mountain West, I do not expect the conference to add other teams at this time. The Big East Conference is not expected to add any new members in the short-term. I look forward to discussing the membership landscape when we meet in the coming weeks.
Some have speculated that the MWC would think about adding a few of the following: BYU, Tulsa, Houston, UTEP, & NMSU. I still think they would add BYU if BYU wanted to come (which they don’t). As for the others, this e-mail makes me think that they’ll stand pat at 12.
As for the Big East, you would think adding more teams is a given. But this e-mail makes me think that they will wait until after a TV contract is finalized or perhaps even until next year. If the Sun Belt is waiting for the Big East to move before they move, we could be in for a long wait.
Some forget that App State could also be a candidate for MAC expansion. It makes sense if added as a package deal with say, JMU? But the MAC has been slow and steady as a turtle during this whole conference realignment shift. However, a few of their schools are in danger of being picked up by the Big East: Ohio, UMass, & NIU. They may not be able to sit on their hands forever.
Notes: After a few days of sitting on my kitchen table, my 4 year old finally got around to spilling water on my papers, so I apologize for the quality. Notice this is page “2 of 3″. I made the conscious decision to not post page 1 since it reveals who sent this to Georgia Southern AD Tom Kleinlein. It adds nothing to the discussion and since I’m not sure if they were actually supposed to forward it, I did not include it. Page 3 was just the end of the signature block.
This email is a back and forth between Georgia Southern’s AD Tom Kleinlein and Sun Belt Commissioner Karl Benson sent on Jan 2, 2013. The e-mail chain ends with Kleinlein forwarding it to his President saying that he will “share thoughts tomorrow”.
Kleinlein’s comments give us an inside look as to how proactive Georgia Southern is being on the conference realignment front:
I am planning to meet with my President Thursday to begin to strategize the potential move. He would like to reach out to other Presidents to gain support but wants to do it at the proper time and in the proper fashion. Do you have any particular suggestions on how to handle this from a conference perspective?
He also would like to extend an invitation to anyone from the conference who like to visit our University to get a better feel for who we are and our plans for the future.
Karl Benson replies with:
Tom – Happy New Year. With the latest Big East defection – Boise St staying in Mt West – along with other possible changes re San Diego St, SMU and Houston – my guess is that we will slow things down until a little more of the dust settles. I will be in Miami beginning Sat and will be with my commissioner colleagues – hope to be able to find out more information then. Let’s plan to connect next Wed.
This ultimately confirms that what Georgia Southern’s AD has said publically is true. The Sun Belt is in a holding pattern (or at least they were a month ago) and no formal invitations have been given. It also pretty much shows that Georgia Southern is not dealing with Sun Belt schools directly, but rather, just the commissioner. I can only assume that Appalachian State is in a similar situation, but I can’t be sure.
I know a few of you are asking “Did this show us anything we didn’t already know?” Well it does confirm what we were told was indeed the truth. Don’t underestimate the value of that. Also, it gives us a better picture of how the negotiation process works. If anything, it’s interesting.
Notes: Once again I apologize for the quality. This e-mail is page “1 of 2″. Page 2 was just the end of the signature block.
I hope everyone enjoyed reading these 4 articles on conference realignment e-mails from Georgia Southern. I had big aspirations when I started this site just under a year ago. I have tried, where possible, to MAKE the news and to find creative ways of doing that without the luxury of formal media credentials.
In the near future, big announcements will be made regarding the future of this site as I continue to try to take it to the next level. Thanks to everyone who follows the site for all of your support.
For all of the latest news on Appalachian State & conference realignment, follow me on Twitter: @AppStateNation
In case you’re new to the site, two weeks ago I filed a FOIA request with both Appalachian State and Georgia Southern for any documents pertaining to conference realignment. On Fri, I received Georgia Southern’s documents, which were essentially 50+ pages of e-mails. First, I posted an e-mail from Sun Belt Commissioner Karl Benson which showed a map of a potential expansion plan for the Sun Belt. Next, I posted a document from Karl Benson which listed all of the potential candidates for Sun Belt expansion.
Today’s papers raise more questions than answers, unfortunately. Below are five pages of e-mails between top administration officials of Georgia Southern and New Mexico State (NMSU). Initially, they are between GSU’s President, Dr. Keel, and NMSU’s Athletic Director, Dr. Boston. They schedule to meet in Atlanta at a steak restaurant on Nov 4 @ 6PM, to discuss “confidential” conference realignment info. Dr. Boston also schedules to bring one of his staff.
The third page is perhaps the most interesting, since Dr. Boston gives a vague description of what they will be discussing at this meeting:
Brooks, Look forward to a productive working dinner..We will forward you materials for your info and review highlighting our thoughts and those shared with us confidentially from the Commissioner..PS..President Manuel Pachceco of NMSU will call you in the future to discuss our strategy and share you my role and empowerment in the process..I felt that was important for you to hear..Mckinley
Here are the actual scanned e-mails:
You’ll notice page #5 is a completely separate e-mail, sent after the meeting, that was planned in the first 4 pages. It says “1 of 2″ but the 2nd page was just a signature block so I didn’t include it. It is dated Nov 14 and begins from NMSU’s Dr. Boston to GSU’s Dr. Keel, essentially congratulating him on the hire of a new Athletic Director. But then they reflect on their “confidential” meeting in Atlanta a little bit and plan a new one in New Mexico.
As I mentioned during our visit in Atlanta, we looked forward to you all visiting with us here in the South West and doing some planning our joint efforts to secure membership in the Sun Belt. We will suggest some options for you and Tom [GSU's AD] to consider. Look forward to seeing you again. McKinley”
Then GSU’s President responds with:
I have briefed Tom [GSU's AD] on our recent conversation and the developing collaborations between Georgia Southern and New Mexico State. I have asked Tom to reach to you, and he should be getting in touch with you shortly. Please know that Tom speaks for me and Georgia Southern, so please feel free to share freely with him. I am copying Tom on this email. We look forward to having the opportunity to meet with you again in person soon. Until then, best regards. Brooks
So once again, very few details. Some of you may be asking “who cares?” Well it establishes the fact that Georgia Southern and NMSU are working together, and for me it raises some interesting questions.
Question 1: What was so important and confidential that NMSU’s Athletic Director felt the need to fly from New Mexico to Atlanta to discuss? It couldn’t be done via e-mail or phone? It wasn’t to see GSU’s facilities because apparently they never left Atlanta.
Question 2: Why does GSU care whether or not NMSU gets in the Sun Belt? They aren’t geographically close to one another, nor are they some sort of package deal. Are they just coordinating because it couldn’t hurt? Or do they have some sort of real plan to work together?
Question 3: Why are there e-mails between GSU and NMSU, but not a single e-mail between GSU and Appalachian State? Is it because App/GSU coordinate via phone & in person? Is it because GSU didn’t release those e-mails to me, for whatever reason? Or is it because Appalachian State isn’t being as proactive as GSU or NMSU? Who knows? But one thing is for sure, App State wasn’t invited to any of these confidential meetings. (Not cool GSU, we like steak too ya know.)
If anything these e-mails are interesting to read. They will be even more interesting if somehow NMSU and GSU are the one’s added and not Appalachian State. But in the meantime, I hope you enjoyed a small inside look at the conference realignment process. Stay tuned because I still have 1 or 2 articles worth of documents that are worth mentioning. Thanks for reading and let me know what you think in the comments.
Don’t forget, for the latest conference realignment news make sure to follow me on Twitter: @AppStateNation
If you haven’t already read my previous article, I submitted a FOIA request for conference realignment related documents from both Appalachian State & Georgia Southern. I received Georgia Southern’s documents today.
But after receiving the documents, I got an e-mail from Georgia Southern with additional documents that were not discovered in time to physically mail. There is a time limit associated with responding to a FOIA request in the state of GA, thus why they didn’t wait. Since my FOIA request specified that digital copies were acceptable, they e-mailed these additional documents.
In this e-mail, Georgia Southern’s AD Thomas Kleinlein received a “SBC EADA Fact Sheet” (Sun Belt Conference – Equity in Athletics Data Analysis - Fact Sheet) from Karl Benson the Sun Belt’s Commissioner. It basically compares financial numbers of a bunch of schools.
Kleinlein then forwarded it to someone named Jeff (within the athletics department?) asking for amplifying info on each school. It seems a bunch of the text of the e-mail was withheld by the school, unless Karl Benson’s email really did just say “and the sport expense data” and that’s it.
The fact sheet itself is the real jewel here, because it comes from Karl Benson and lists every Sun Belt school, then has the words “Potential Members” followed by a collection of school names. Note that I have no idea if these schools are SERIOUS candidates, but at the very least, these are schools that being somewhat considered.
This is the original copy of the attachment: SBC EADA Fact Sheet.PDF
Note that the date of the attachment is only today’s date because it was forwarded to me today from their lawyers. The date of the email was Dec 21, 2012 @ 11:31AM.
The schools it lists are:
New Mexico State
Sam Houston State
I follow Sun Belt expansion as close as anyone in the game. Most of these are the usual suspects. Some of these are schools, like UT-Chattanooga and Illinois State, I thought only people on message boards were talking about. But apparently the Sun Belt is actually considering them as well. Other schools like Richmond & Towson seemed to come out of left field for me, but make sense in a way.
For those of you that wanted some kind of smoking gun/official invite, I’m sorry. I just requested the FOIA and this is what they gave me. I hope you find it interesting. Check back soon for more documents from my FOIA request.
For all the latest conference realignment news follow me on Twitter: @AppStateNation
Two weeks ago, I personally filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with both Appalachian State and Georgia Southern regarding any documents they had pertaining to conference realignment.
Today, Georgia Southern sent me the documents I asked for. There are roughly 50 pages in all. Some of them are common press releases, others unexciting emails. There are a few, however, that were VERY interesting. None more interesting than the 2 pages I am about to show you.
This is an email dated Dec 22, 2012 @ 10:21 AM. I actually have this email multiple times at various stages of the “forwarding” process. I chose the one with the least amount of “Confidentiality” statements.
There are emails leading up to this where Karl Benson and new Georgia Southern AD Tom Kleinlein arrange meetings. This one is obviously a follow up to one of those meetings. The email itself isn’t what struck me. It’s the amount of talk about how the attachment was “confidential” (especially at later stages in the forwarding process) and of course the attachment itself:
The map shows the locations of every Sun Belt school…except that Appalachian State and Georgia Southern are added!
Is this a working plan for how the conference will look very soon? Is this just a mockup that they are using to throw around ideas? I honestly have no idea. But they went through great lengths to ensure everyone who read the email knew it was “confidential”. I guess they forgot about us pesky sports bloggers and our annoying FOIA requests.
That’s all for now. I’ll be releasing more documents from this FOIA request in the weeks to come. Some of them involve the MAC, others involve NMSU. Also I’m still waiting on Appalachian State to reply to its request, so stay tuned!
Don’t forget, for all the latest conference realignment news follow me on Twitter: @AppStateNation
If you haven’t heard, Boise State has officially said “nevermind” to the Big East (and Big West) and is staying in the Mountain West Conference.
This has a big effect on Appalachian State, because the Sun Belt has been waiting for the Big East to figure out its membership before they decide to expand. This result was probably the worst thing that could have happened from the perspective of the Big East/C-USA/Sun Belt.
So what’s next? No one knows for sure, but here is what I THINK will happen:
1. San Diego State (SDSU) will ALSO say nevermind to the Big East and stay in the MWC. That hasn’t happened yet, but they are in negotiations.
2. The MWC will also add between 1-5 of the following schools: BYU, Houston, Tulsa, SMU, UTEP, & UTSA. That is the order of priority in my mind. BYU will probably say no. The rest would probably say yes. The question is, how many will the MWC add?
1. Navy will say nevermind to the Big East and stay independent. I’d put this at a 60% chance of happening, depending on who the Big East adds from here.
2. Big East will steal an unknown number of the following (In no particular order): Tulsa (if the MWC doesn’t take them), Old Dominion, Ohio, USM, NIU, Marshall, UMass, & Charlotte. There are plenty of other schools out of the A-10 that they could look at for olympic only additions as well.
2. C-USA will add WKU and/or Arkansas State, more if need be.
3. Sun Belt will add Georgia Southern, Appalachian State, & NMSU. If they need more than those: Idaho (football only), Liberty, Sam Houston State, or Jacksonville State
POSSIBLE (BUT I DOUBT IT)
1. C-USA gets raided so hard by the Big East that they are forced to merge with the Sun Belt. (AKA App State doesn’t get in.)
2. C-USA gets raided so hard by the Big East that they decide to steal a bunch (but not all) of the Sun Belt schools. The Sun Belt ceases to exist as a football conference (or hangs on by a thread by adding a ton of FCS schools).
2. Several schools leave the Big East very quickly. The Big East dissolves. C-USA takes the left overs.
The Sun Belt will probably still hold off for a few weeks while we see what the MWC/Big East do, but they will be getting their next additions ready to go at a moments notice (if they haven’t already). It’s hard to believe after ALL of this movement, we still aren’t in the FBS. But that could change in the next month or two.
I had a source tell me a couple of days ago that Scott Satterfield, current Asst Coach/Offensive Coordinator here at App, would be named the next Head Coach. It turns out that the source was good. The Winston-Salem Journal confirmed the news earlier today.
Obviously none of this should surprise anyone following the situation. He was likely always going to get the job, despite a supposed “national search”, and you know what, I’m OK with that. I love his resume and I love his close ties to App even more. I’m hoping that will be enough to keep him at App for a long time. Here’s a quick timeline of his career:
|2012-Present||Head Coach||Appalachian State|
|2012||Assistant Head Coach & Offensive Coordinator||Appalachian State|
|2010-2011||Offensive Coordinator||Florida International|
|2009||Passing Game Coordinator & Quarterback Coach||Toledo|
|2003-2008||Quarterback Coach||Appalachian State|
|1999-2002||Running Backs Coach||Appalachian State|
|1998||Wide Receivers Coach||Appalachian State|
The coaching search coming to an end wasn’t the only big news of the day. In conference realignment land, 7 of the Big East’s “basketball-only” schools are preparing to go their separate way.
Teams That Are Leaving the Big East
Teams That Are Getting Left Behind
Boise State (Football Only)
San Diego State (Football Only)
Navy (Football Only)
ECU (Football Only)
Honestly, the only difference is that now this mediocre football conference will also be mediocre in basketball. As it stands, it’s still a superior conference compared to C-USA/Sun-Belt/MAC. The question is, will some of these teams get scared of all this instability and leave? If not, they are fine. But Boise State, San Diego State, Houston, and SMU are ALL threats to leave for the MWC. UConn and Cincinnati are still longshot threats to leave for the Big-12 or ACC. Navy is a threat for go back to being an independent. ECU will probably want an all-sports invite now.
If any of that happens, expect the trickle down effect to reach C-USA and eventually the Sun Belt. If they stick together, the trickle down could actually come from the basketball schools that are leaving. If they end up forming their own conference, rather than join the A-10, many of the A-10 schools might be wooed away. Then the A-10 will take some of the basketball-only schools from the CAA, and then the CAA will come knocking again for some SoCon schools. All of this will eventually affect App State somehow. It will just take some time to see the aftershocks form.
THIS IS JUST A RUMOR AT THIS POINT! But according to multiple tweets (from very questionable sources), Georgia Southern and “probably” Appalachian State will be added to the Sun Belt. (Thanks to
@CamSwagMatt for the heads up!) Judge for yourself:
I REPEAT, THESE ARE RUMORS!!!
If you’re not familiar with Troy, it’s a school in Alabama famous for its football. They won the Sun Belt championship every year from 2006-2010.
Well their new Athletic Director apparently hasn’t been on the job long enough to know that you’re not actually supposed to ANSWER questions. Not only did he answer the question, he asked it! Rookie. In his AD Forum, he asked himself:
2) Will there be further change in the makeup of Sun Belt Conference (SBC)?
2) Yes. With the departure of MTSU and FAU that leaves us with eight football playing teams, which means if you play everyone once you would only have seven league games. From a football scheduling perspective, this would leave the SBC members short one football game.
While some have mentioned current FBS schools New Mexico State and Idaho, I believe two institutions from the FCS ranks, Appalachian State and Georgia Southern, would fit well in our league and make a whole lot more geographical sense.
At least one AD out there has some common sense. But analyzing his comments, you have to believe that there are at least a few schools in the Sun Belt that prefer adding NMSU and Idaho. I still think worst case scenario is a “compromise” between the two where they take NMSU and Georgia Southern.
In other Sun Belt news:
…Middle Tennessee was approached by Conference USA on Nov. 25 about joining, and officials hoped to announce the move after playing at Arkansas State on Dec. 1.
…the university wanted to make the news public because the league was considering increasing the exit fee to as much as $10 million.
…The Sun Belt planned a board meeting Nov. 28, prompting Middle Tennessee to tell league officials of their decision. Massaro says the board meeting then was canceled.
Interesting. Right now the Sun Belt’s exit fee is $0. To compare, a Big Mac is about $4.10 more than that.
College of Charleston’s board of trustees voted unanimously to join CAA and announced the move today. (In case you thought they had already left, they had just voted to “negotiate” with the CAA previously.) So here’s the map of the SoCon minus the Cougars.
Honestly, I can’t blame them for leaving. The SoCon has done nothing proactive in conference realignment and our only TV deal is ESPN3…which really isn’t TV, it’s online.
In any case, this isn’t a freaking surprise. The SoCon commissioner needs to start adding more schools yesterday. Actually yesterday would have been a year too late. There aren’t a ton of great prospects out there, but Coastal Carolina is the obvious catch. They should be jumping all over that. Winthrop could be another decent pickup. They’re going to need a replacement in Georgia for Georgia Southern. Why not look at Kennesaw State or Mercer? We’re not the SEC, we have to take what we can get.
All the SoCon commish can say is a bunch of PR talk:
With the commitment and cooperation of our Presidents and Chancellors, we will continue to explore the best options available to us to ensure a successful future for our athletic programs and the student-athletes we serve.
So what’s the latest on App State’s potential FBS move and how soon can we leave?
There are some message board rumors out there that have …READ MORE