With training camps set to open in less than two weeks, the silence is deafening in the Colonial Athletic Association football ranks.
Despite the impending departures of Old Dominion and Georgia State to the Bowl Championship Subdivision ranks and Rhode Island’s switch to the Northeast Conference in 2013, there may soon be some good news for the University of Maine and its Northeast CAA counterparts.
Black Bear coaches, administrators and fans initially were concerned that the comings and goings might signal an unceremonious end to UMaine’s affiliation with a league that features a southern slant. The same fear emanated from the University of New Hampshire.
All of a sudden, the two charter members of the conference once known as the Yankee Conference may serve as the anchors of an expanding Northeast presence for the CAA.
Nobody’s providing any details for the record, but the talk is CAA football is again preparing to expand its institutional roster.
“Even prior to the announced departures this spring, we had been quietly exploring possible membership realignments,” CAA Commissioner Tom Yeager said in a statement July 24, the day before the CAA football media day in Baltimore.
“To the extent that we can maintain the confidentiality of the discussions, we have endeavored to do so to protect the interests of all parties involved,” he added. “We will continue to maintain our confidentiality and will not comment about particular institutions.”
Yeager might not be talking, but there are plenty of whisperings around the conference. The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports speculation of expansion includes Albany and Stony Brook, two of UMaine’s America East counterparts, along with southern schools including Coastal Carolina, Davidson, Charleston, Elon and Furman.
There’s even chatter that if Albany and Stony Brook join the CAA, Rhode Island might reconsider its decision to leave the CAA and stay in the league.
If nothing changes, the departure of ODU, Georgia State and URI would leave the CAA with only eight football schools: UMaine, UNH, Villanova, Delaware, Towson, Richmond, William & Mary and James Madison.
Eight isn’t a good number, since it would leave teams with only seven conference contests among 11 regular-season games most years.
The addition of Albany and Stony Brook would mean 10 teams and probably eight regular-season league games. The setup also could pave the way for a regional two-division setup placing UMaine, UNH, Albany, Villanova and Delaware or Towson in the North and the others in the South.
More important for UMaine and UNH, it would help cut down on travel distance in some instances.
The Times-Dispatch says the CAA hopes to reveal its changes by the end of the summer. More and more, it appears as though it will be UMaine’s football home for the foreseeable future.