So...Old Dominion University announced it was leaving the Colonial Athletic Association for Conference USA on May 17, 2012. You can read my take on the fooball aspect of it by reading my story for SaturdayBlitz.com.
(I am putting together a comprehensive blog post about the move. Surprisingly it's not all puppies and rainbows for this blogger. I think it was the correct decision for the long term, but there are concerns. I hope to bore you with an introspective story posted by the end of the holiday weekend.)
|Old Dominion to Conference USA. It's happening.|
Less than a week before ODU's announcement, I was asked to provide some background on ODU's football program by a fan of the Charlotte 49ers. The blogger wanted some insight into what Old Dominion did correctly to have finished its first three seasons with records of 9-2, 8-3 and 10-3. I was more than happy to oblige, because I'm just a swell guy.
The success of the Football Monarchs was relevant to Sydney and his blog because UNC Charlotte (or "Charlotte", or whatever the correct moniker is - I'm not intentionally trying to be offensive but I think that "UNC-C" is not acceptable by their fans) announced it would field an intercollegiate football team in 2013.
The short version is that when this decision was announced a few years ago, their administration expected to compete as an FCS independent team but recently got an invitation to join Conference USA. Accpeting this invitation meant that the 49ers would play FBS football in 2015 after two years as an FCS independent. It had previously belonged to C-USA but switched to the Atlantic 10 Conference, essentially because it didn't field an intercollegiate football team.
At this point, I'm done trying to make sense of conference changes. This is not meant to say that any change is a mistake; there are simply too many changes to make appropriate assessments right now. Just know that (for now) Charlotte and Old Dominion will join C-USA as football programs in 2015.
I asked Sydney if he'd answer some questions about Charlotte for my own blog. The 49ers aren't as unknown to Monarch fans as UT - San Antonio might be, but it's not as familiar as George Mason, either. I've reached out to a couple other bloggers of Conference USA schools and hope to get their Q&A's posted over the next couple weeks.
So with that background, I provide you a Q&A with Sydney of 49ergreen.com. In addition to reading the blog, you can follow Sydney on Twitter at @49erGreenBlog. Enjoy!
1. Please provide the reader some background about yourself: are you a graduate of Charlotte, when did you start following, etc.?
I am actually not a graduate of Charlotte; I went to a smaller private college up north and graduated in 2007 with a bachelor's in digital media arts. I moved to Charlotte in 2009 and started following 49er sports shortly after. In addition to having family work for the school I am also involved as a volunteer staff member with a couple of religious organizations on campus so I am there quite frequently. The main sports I attend are soccer, basketball and baseball (and definitely football in 2013).
2. What are some of your favorite memories of 49er athletics?
I would have to say my favorite memory of 49er athletics has to be the men's soccer team and their College Cup run of 2011. Although I am not a student or alum just seeing the fans get behind the team was unbelievable. I watched the national championship game with others on campus (which Charlotte lost to UNC, 1-0) and it was just great to see that much support for the team (I know soccer gets a rap for not being a popular sport, but the national attention the school got continues to this day).
|Charlotte fell to UNC in the NCAA men's soccer national championship (photo courtesy Charlotte49ers.com)|
3. Describe from a fan's perspective what it is like to switch from Conference USA to the Atlantic 10, then back to C-USA. How would you describe the 49ers' performance in the A-10?
Over the past couple of years, the 49ers have done fairly well in the A-10 as a whole. I already mentioned men's soccer, but baseball has been one of the top teams in the country over the past several years (despite an off year in 2012) and have always competed near the top of the league --even winning a couple conference titles. Track and field, golf and cross country have won multiple conference championships, and even softball has done reasonably well.
However, the clear headline sport is basketball, and over the past few years, it hasn't been good. The Niners missed the conference tournament in 2010-11 before making it as the 12th seed (out of 12) this year; however, they were one and done. They've been slipping over the past three or four seasons or so, and part of that is the fact that the A-10 tends to be such a top-heavy conference. Outside of Xavier and Temple, and maybe Dayton, Richmond, Saint Louis and St. Joe's (when those four are doing well), there's not really any teams that consistently challenge for the top spot (outside of St. Bonaventure). You can make a case for clubs like George Washington (who had a couple of phenomenal seasons a few years back), UMass, Rhode Island and Duquesne, but they've been middle of the pack teams at best of late. While the case is made that the new C-USA will be much weaker basketball-wise, it ushers in a little more parity among the teams involved.
4. What are your thoughts on Old Dominion athletics in general, and football in particular? What does it mean for Charlotte to be in the same conference as ODU as well as East Carolina?
|Gratuitous picture of Old Dominion football.|
I honestly haven't followed ODU athletics too closely, so I can't really get in to that much detail. I do know that the football team has done an amazing job in such a short time, and it remains to be seen if that success can be replicated at the next level. If so, the face of the conference (and college football as a whole) will definitely change -- but of course, that's a big if, and there are no guarantees. I do think that ODU and Charlotte will be able to really feed off each other if one or both are successful. With that said, it's great to be in the same conference as ECU -- it's an automatic, natural geographic. The drive between Charlotte and Greenville is very doable (although I have yet to make the trip myself), there are many ECU fans and alumni in Charlotte, and I hope that both schools will develop this rivalry to the fullest extent.
5. ARE YOU READY FOR SOME FOOTBALL??? (And more specifically, what will a football program do for Charlotte as a university?)
Football will put Charlotte on a whole new level, not only from a financial standpoint but also an enrollment standpoint as well. Interest in the school has increased since the football program was first announced, and will stand to grow if the team is successful. Local football players now have another option to turn to if they want to continue to play in college; they now have the choice to maybe get more playing time here than they would at a bigger college. Financially, the college stands to benefit from merchandise, ticket sales and seat licenses, and the more successful the team is, the more money comes in. It is truly a great time for all Charlotte sports fans, and it only stands to get better down the road.
|Charlotte 49er Football. It's happening. (Photo courtesy Charlotte49ers.com)|
VBR Productions humbly thanks Sydney for his input on the 49ers in this blog.