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Football: What will the 2013 CAA look like?

The 2013 CAA football conference won't have Old Dominion, who impressed in their first year of FCS football and might have the subdivision's best quarterback, and it won't have Georgia State, who were are to play their only season in the conference this fall. Rhode Island has also announced a move to the Northeast conference for football, effective for the 2013 season — leaving the CAA, presumably, with eight members.

That's one less than the conference needs to support the current 8-game conference schedule and four fewer than the ideal number for the geographically widespread conference.

With no additions (or subtractions), the 2013 CAA football conference would consist of Villanova, Maine, New Hampshire, Towson, Delaware, James Madison, William & Mary and Richmond. The conference will have at least 9 football members in 2013, but there may not be any additions.

That is because the CAA is apparently still hoping that Rhode Island will reconsider their move to the NEC.

"I'd love for Rhode Island to reconsider and stay with us," UNH athletic director Marty Scarano told the Union Leader. "But that's my personal opinion and it doesn't mean a hill of beans."

The conference announced on Tuesday that it's presidents decided that departing members Old Dominion and Georgia State will not be permitted to win the league's automatic bid to the NCAA tournament in their lame duck season (in accordance with league bylaws). That ruling includes football, though Georgia State wasn't going to be eligible to play in the FCS post-season this fall anyway, while transitioning to FBS.

What wasn't determined was whether Rhode Island would be subjected to the same punishment. A CAA football spokesperson told VUhoops that URI's, "status has not been officially determined yet."

That fact should fuel the rumors that the CAA is working to keep URI in the fold.

Whether URI stays or goes, however, further rumors emerged this week about CAA expansion. The league will need to add some basketball and Olympic sports members in order to replace the departing ODU and Georgia State as well as VCU, who have already left the conference. According to Matt Peloquin of CollegeSportsInfo.com, it is being rumored that the CAA is talking to Stony Brook, Elon, College of Charleston, Davidson and Furman about membership.*

Of those schools, Stony Brook, Elon, Furman and Davidson sponsor football teams at the FCS level. Davidson would be unlikely to upgrade their low-budget, no scholarship Pioneer League program to compete in the full-scholarship, high-expense CAA. However, if the other three schools were to join the CAA, however, it would bring the football membership up to either 11 or 12 for the 2013 season, depending whether URI stays or goes.

Rumored 2013 CAA Football Conference

CAA –North

CAA - South

New Hampshire Towson
Maine James Madison
Rhode Island William & Mary
Stony Brook Richmond
Villanova Elon
Delaware Furman

That alignment would add a very strong Stony Brook football program in the north (and Stony Brook's basketball and baseball programs would bolster the all-sports side of the CAA) as well as two very strong Southern Conference football teams in the Carolinas.

In addition to producing strong attendance figures, Furman is one of only a small number of private colleges that has made it to the FCS title game, along with Richmond and Villanova. They made the title game in 1985, 1988 and 2001, winning a National Championship in 1988.

The Elon Phoenix (formerly the "Fighting Christians"), has also been a strong football member of the Southern Conference, often finding their way into the rankings before, during and after the season. They would give the CAA a football presence in North Carolina.

Other schools like Appalachian State or Liberty would have been excellent football additions as well, but the CAA has likely suffered from too many FCS-to-FBS defections in the latest round of realignment. They should be considered unlikely to roll the dice on any school that has publicly stated it's desire to upgrade.

*I don't often follow Mr. Peloquin's work and cannot vouch for the veracity of his report. Please treat it as the rumor that it is.

Obit focuses on football

Douglas J. Murray died at the age of 72, and his obituary in the Philadelphia Inquirer tells the tale of a man who cared deeply for his alma mater, and for the Wildcats' football team. You see, Murray was about to begin his term of duty as the president of the Villanova University Alumni Association in April 1981. That month, a phone call came in to inform him, that the trustees had voted to drop football -- Murray dropped everything and left to plead with the board members to reconsider.

"He left my [17th] birthday party that night to go speak with the board members, to change their minds," his daughter, Mary Sheila Gleason said. "It took till my senior year at Villanova for football to come back."

Murray had an amazing career that took him from teaching at a prep school to running the insurance company he founded. Through his entire life's journey, however, he was a dedicated alumnus of Villanova.

"I was totally befuddled and unprepared for the elimination of football when it happened," Mr. Murray said in a 1985 interview. That being the year that football was restored under Andy Talley.

"In my opinion, the football game at Villanova is the nucleus of the social life on the Main Line."

Murray was the type of passionate alumnus who was willing to fight for what he believed, and for the school that was his home for four years. His story should serve as a model for the influence that alumni can have on their alma mater when they are willing to expend the energy to see their dreams through. He defined the university's new slogan, "Ignite Change" in a way that VUhoops readers can appreciate.

If you knew Murray, or wish to pay your respects, a memorial service will be held at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 27, at the Phoenixville Foundry.