I've only been in one which is the one right outside of I-75 at the exit to Warner-Robbins AFB.
Their stats are as followed. Number of women with 2-3 layer stretch marks: 4. Number of women for doctors-in-training to study what five years of habitual meth use does to a female body: 2. Number of women who actually look like the ones pictured on the billboards: 0.
ETSU and Mercer maybe good programs B-Ball wise but not something that would generate heated rivalies and butts in the seats. ETSU is not the ETSU of old that people have fond memories of hating in the same sentence as Alabama or Florida and when I think of Mercer, I usually think of Macon: home of Little Richard, the We Bare All, and that's pretty much it.
Agreed with the geography concept. However, I imagine because the SoCon's HQ is in the Carolinas they tend to be more bias to that location.
Furman and Wofford may have better alum bases in the well-heeled section, but so does Vanderbilt. Doesn't always generate into jauggernauts (I'm just saying).
In the meantime, I do hope Blackburn takes a little time to discuss this either with you, Frierson, Weeds, or the 4-7 folks. While I do not expect an immediate plan, you gotta know he's thinking something OR having "well-heeled" alumni here bending his ear on it.
Elon is simply a private school in North Carolina. In fact, outside of the SoCon it is the king of "who?" schools. The only time I ever heard Elon referenced in a third party was this stand-up comedianne referencing a neighbor who was a teacher at Elon. That was it.
While I was unable to listen when I got home, I see a posting from Fry himself that he was on with Dr. B going back and fourth regarding this reallignment. Losing Elon for the most part is not that big a deal. It's more or less the fact that the domino effect is taking shape with the departure of GSU and ASU.
As for Wofford and Furman "looking around", good luck with that! Seriously, I cannot imagine any other conference wanting them. They might as well go independent. That's not taking away from their programs, its just if we're talking about the "geyser-sized spigot of cash" that is "media rights", UTC is like the undeveloped lot in a high-end market that you can get for a song (if that makes sense). Sadly, both Wofford and Furman are located in parts unknown and don't have a well-developed college town (like Tuscaloosa or Ann-Arbor) that would warrant so much as an offer.
Overall, good analysis.
Direct quote from I-man:
“In recent years, it became increasingly evident that Elon’s negative view of the diversity in the Southern Conference was not shared by the majority of the membership. Our core group remains firmly committed to each other and to the academic and athletic success of the Southern Conference. We are preparing specific initiatives to achieve that success.”
You're in like-minded company but right now the Mocs are almost in neutral territory. While I try not to appear as a be-all know-it-all analyst (That's what Dr. B and ESPN yahoos get paid for), I will do my best to predict the situation as it currently stands.
Right now, UTC is in repair mode. They first had to plug three major holes: New AD, new women's BB coach, new men's BB coach. Blackburn was hired and and backed up his commitment by offering serious coin (by UTC's standards) with the hirings of Foster and Wade. Blackburn's next course of action, which is numero uno, is generating funds for the Athletic Department by any means necessary short of NCAA violations. For right now, if I was David Blackburn and I was talking to Dr. B, I would say flat out the fundraising is job one. I would hint that a conference move is ineviable but state we are no position to make such a move (because we really aren't).
Moving on, the current SoCon is still in-tact at least for this year. So in order to build momentum for a move, I would advise my big three (Huesman, Wade, and Foster) to do what they are paid to do: Win ballgames. This would be the toughest for Wade because all eyes are on him and the fact other than Z-Mason and a couple of others, he doesn't have a whole lot to work with. Even our new 6' 9 dude is not eligable for another year and boosters want this program back up and running overnight. The excuse of "I CAN'T REWRITE THE LAWS OF PHYSICS CAPTAIN! I CAN'T START THE ENGINE UP COLD!" only works in television.
Best case scenerio is this: Huesman is able to win the SoCon championship this year. After four years and lot of seasoned players, there should be no excuse not to. Foster continues to upgrade the Lady Mocs and Wade has the program to a healthy status within a year. This in turn should help with whatever methods D.B. uses to generate coin for the program.
My estimate is Blackburn has at best two years from today for the program to be in a position to where they can negotiate a move to either the Sun Belt or OVC. By then, the SoCon will be a shell of its former self and WILL DRAG UTC down with it if it does not get out. Knowing the community, they will go Sun Belt but would be satisfied with the OVC.
LB = agreed. Also, keep us posted if anything happens between now and tomorrow (i.e. press conferences, Blackburn quote/soundbite [or Wade, Huesman, Foster, etc.]).
I normally do mail bag through my AOL account but at work I'm a little leary about doing that. So save this for tomorrow.
Anybody who follows Frierson (my method being Facebook) already knows by now that Elon is fix'n to jump ship. With that said, the conference is down to seven schools not counting the ones who will probably accept membership once the paperwork is finalized. That being the case, if Mercer, ETSU, and VMI re-enter, the SoCon would have just nine football schools technically (none of the three would actually not be ready by next year to the best of my knowledge).
Needless to say, within the next 24-48 hours, the "grumblings" will start producing on this forum, on Sport Talk, on 105.3, and every social media from here to Timbucktoo regarding where do the Mocs go from here. At this moment, there are at least some comments on Frierson's FB post stating UTC needs to start preparing to either head for the Sun Belt or the OVC.
Not that it matters, but I wouldn't mind hearing Blackburn's take on all this or even speculation given the fact the SoCon in my honest opinion is about to go the way of the SWC (via "Pony Excess" reference).
Again, reserve this for tomorrow's mailbag (unless you already have 1.5 fecal-load of letters on the same subject matter).
UPDATE: as of this posting, I see the ball is already starting to roll on this. And as mentioned above, it's not new news on the account Frierson was hinting it as of late last night (via Twitter comments linked to my FB account).
Thanks for reading. :D
Okay, since it was brought to my attention that there was a glitch on the website that deleted my rather lengthly but thought-out answers to your five questions, I decided to do a simple edited-down version. If you got to read the original comments, hope you enjoyed them.
1) I believe the most powerful people in Chattanooga are the ones that do the most behind the scenes. These are the people that make Southside a hip section of town, that make whiskey distilling legal again, that give Chattanoogans that opportunity to watch independent films without having to fight Atlanta or Nashville to see them, and so on. The late Gene Roberts helped lay the foundation to transform Chattanooga and the next generation is building on top of what took decades to do.
2) It is still too early to give the mayor a fair review when all he has done is clean house internally (compared to what "Blackburn" did during his 30 days, this is a rather drop in the bucket). He appears to going on the right direction, but I figured give him at least a year.
3) Chet technically beat me to the punch on this because the glitch deleted my post. But on this subject, the Wiccas and the Buddhists in this town tend to get the most sour looks of "needs to be run out of town" by the 600 lb silverback known as the Southern Baptists in town. My comments stem from previous articles where Buddhists that have been interviewed have been told how co-workers pray for them in order to see the light and other harassing issues. And there was the time the Buddist Monk meditating in downtown Chattanooga got "quacked" by a bunch of ignorant first graders. Hince, this is why I believe the known Buddhist Temple on Bonny Oaks is as well-hidden as the Smurf Village.
4) Tennessee Aquarium is fine as is. Yes, it is 20 years old but has stayed current with new exhibits, expansions, building upgrades, etc. The fact Atlanta is talking about a Ferris wheel shows how extremely out of touch they are with their "real" issues. If I want to ride a Ferris wheel, they have Six Flags over Georgia or One Flag over Ft. Oglethrope.
5) Best idea for Chattanooga: NFL expansion team. Upgrade Finley to 70,000, all private donations so Drew won't have anything to whine, cry, kick, and scream about, have the city retain ownership and promote it as a source of community pride (like in Wisconsin). Everything else is pretty much done except it needs to be bigger with the progress of time. Anime Blast Chattanooga becomes the next Anime Weekend Atlanta, Connooga becomes the next DragonCon and Samantha Teter, marketing director of the CSO, will up her game after the soon-to-be successful Video Games Live concert by finally bringing the Legand of Zelda and Final Fantasy shows to the Memorial.