16 April 2006

The Big 10 Hockey Controversy

Everywhere I go (internet-wise), someone has to bring up the possibility of a Big 10 conference for hockey. People seem to think this is a good idea. You know, because some school (Penn State, Illinois, Indiana, Northwestern?) is going to reach into its magical bag of financial glee and come up with the resources to fund another D-1 sport (or 2, if they need to add a women's sport for compliance reasons). I'm so sure that's going to happen soon.

As an insider to the college hockey scene at the University of Illinois, let me tell you this: it ain't happening there. There is a club hockey team there, and they definitely rock the club hockey scene, don't get me wrong. They sell out every game. Standing room only. The catch is, that's like 300 people. I had season tickets to the Fighting Illini home games. They cost me like $40... TOTAL. It was awesome. Plus, nobody cared if you were sportsmanlike or not. I once screamed at an opposing player so loudly and so obnoxiously that I actually got his attention. I was so stunned, I just waved. Shameful, I know, but it's doesn't happen at the WCHA games, so I was unprepared. Once I screamed at Barry Tallackson until I was gasping for air, and no one cared. Maybe he was weeping softly behind his facemask, but I'll never know. I probably could have gotten in for free, because I taught a freshman engineering class that year, and one of my students was an employee at the ice arena who took tickets at the doors. However, there's something unsatisfying about getting something free that's really cheap anyway.

The thing about the University of Illinois is, it's not in Chicago. It's actually about 2 hours away (unless you take the Greyhound, because that can take 5 or 6 hours), and it's a totally different world. In Chicago, they've kind of heard of hockey, they have the Blackhawks and stuff, but in southern Illinois, they're more into football. And wrestling. And rodeos. And muddin'. And marrying their cousins. They don't get hockey. Only Canadian hicks get hockey. Illinois is not a hockey hotbed.

I don't like the idea of a Big 10 conference anyway, because that would serious mess up the conferences we've got now. The WCHA would lose MN-TC and WI, two of the 3 biggies (Denver fans can fill themselves in as the 3rd, UND fans can fill their team in, Tech fans can feel secure in the knowledge they're not on that list), and would have to add Bemidji state (which is fine) and some CHA reject (which is not fine). In order to play the Gophers, we'd have to put them on our non-conference schedule, and they probably wouldn't want to add us. I also think the Big 10 hockey conference doesn't quite fit with college hockey. Is there to be a Pac-10 conference? A Big Sky conference? Once there are enough teams in each of the football/basketball/whatever conferences, do we have to restructure AGAIN?

There is some hope for those people who think it would be a dream come true. During my recent trip to the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame in Eveleth, MN, I came across this,














and this,













so I suppose anything's possible.

3 comments:

mommeister said...

you actually had time to post this before you went to the easter ham-bun feast??? or did you stay up late after dinner last night? keep up the good work, my dear...i'm sure the dogs appreciate it!

love,
mom

Chris said...

Illinois' hockey team wasn't so bad back in the day. At 13-6-0, they're one of only two college hockey programs to have a winning record against Michigan after playing them more than a handful of games. The other program is Minnesota who is only 7-10 games ahead of Michigan(depending on whose version of history you use), after a couple hundred match-ups, so you could say Illinois has the best winning percentage against Michigan of any program ever.

But you're right that Illinois isn't ready for D1 hockey right now, unless they decided to paint the puck orange and start hanging the nets from the second deck.

I mean, look at what Illinois fan and Blogging King Big Ten Wonk had to say about college hockey: http://bigtenwonk.blogspot.com/2005/11/everyones-back-for-michigan.html (way down in the post where he talks about MGoBlog)

All told, I think you'd be much more likely to see college hockey expansion at Penn State or Iowa, or out in Southern California in Pac-10 territory before you'd see college hockey come back to Illinois.

Runninwiththedogs said...

I can't believe you forced me to scroll through all that boring basketball crap... although it did mention my former dorm-mate, James Augustine.