If you think the college football landscape was altered this past season, take a quick look at the future of college hockey! In football, teams left and joined other conferences, thereby challenging the intricacies of the mathematical world— Big Ten=12…Big Twelve=10 — and the geographical layout of the United States. Since when are Boise and San Diego in the east?
Although the college football alignment seems to be flipped upside-down, I dare say that college hockey has them beat. Two new conferences are being created, and another will cease to exist. And it’s all because of Penn State and the Big Ten.
With Penn State making hockey a varsity sport, the Big Ten has decided to form a hockey conference of their own, causing the CCHA (Central Collegiate Hockey Association) and WCHA (Western Collegiate Hockey Association) to lose their biggest schools. From the CCHA: Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State, and from the WCHA: Wisconsin and Minnesota, will become members of the Big Ten in 2013.
The transfer of these teams caused a panic amongst the rest of the CCHA and WCHA schools. It lead to the CCHA losing the rest of their schools and the WCHA losing their powerhouse programs to create a new conference, the NCHC (National Collegiate Hockey Conference). Are you still keeping up?
Let’s have another math and geography lesson. The soon-to-be Big Ten hockey conference will have…six schools. And according to the college hockey world, South Bend, Indiana, is considered part of the east coast following Notre Dame’s move to the Hockey East conference (from the CCHA).
But we have yet to answer the question: “Is the Big Ten conference good for college hockey?” I’ll go out on a limb and say yes. Although the loss of the CCHA is sad, the new NCHC (comprised of WCHA and CCHA schools) is going to be a college hockey power! And although the WCHA is losing so many of their great programs, there are still a number of schools in that conference that make it interesting to follow. Ferris State, which will be a new member of the WCHA, has just made it to the Frozen Four in Tampa. Michigan Tech is making progress, as is Minnesota State.
The Hockey East remains intact with the acquisition of Notre Dame, and the Big Ten conference has Michigan, Michigan State, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. Each of those schools appeared in the national championship game at least once since 2002. Although the conference realignment will be different, I think the new conferences will make for a very interesting future for college hockey.
Also, the Big Ten Network will help make the conference and the sport more noticeable, plus bring more money into the sport. Additionally, Notre Dame will have a national television deal with NBC sports, which means two national television networks will be broadcasting college hockey during the regular season!
The conference realignment does nothing to diminish the competition in the sport, and it provides the possibility of more national exposure. Which is why I say the Big Ten IS good for college hockey.
Here are the updated conferences for the start of the 2013 season…
ATLANTIC HOCKEY (12 teams, unchanged)
Rochester Institute of Technology
BIG TEN (6 teams, new)
Michigan (from CCHA)
Michigan State (from CCHA)
Minnesota (from WCHA)
Ohio State (from CCHA)
Penn State (from independent)
Wisconsin (from WCHA)
CCHA (Disbands after 2012-13)
ECAC HOCKEY (12 teams, unchanged)
HOCKEY EAST (11 teams, Notre Dame)
Notre Dame (CCHA)
NCHC (8 teams, new)
Colorado College (from WCHA)
Denver (from WCHA)
Miami (from CCHA)
Minnesota-Duluth (from WCHA)
Nebraska-Omaha (from WCHA)
North Dakota (from WCHA)
St. Cloud State (from WCHA)
Western Michigan (from CCHA)
WCHA (5 new)
Alaska (from CCHA)
Ferris State (from CCHA)
Lake Superior State (from CCHA)
Northern Michigan (CCHA)
Bowling Green (CCHA)
INDEPENDENT (1 team)
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