Here's a look at The Empire so far:
At first glance, I really like how this conference looks. We've got traditional powers in Alabama, Oklahoma, and Nebraska. Great football teams in Texas A&M and Arizona State, and other solid programs in Arizona, California, Connecticut, and Oregon State.
After the break I'll break down how the Beavers fit into the conference, take a look at how The Empire stacks up against everyone else, and ask for advice on who The Empire should select next.
As of right now, with nine teams, we could do a MAC-like uneven division split with five teams in the western division and four teams in the eastern division. The west would look like this:
Going into the 2011 season, I'd say that Texas A&M and Arizona State are the front-runners of the division. Oregon State is capable of beating both teams, but I'd put Oregon State as the third best team in the divison.
The east division is absolutely lethal:
If you're going by Phil Steele's Top 25, you've got the top two teams in the nation, along with the #12 team and a team that went to the Fiesta Bowl last season. Overall, a GREAT football conference.
Instead of splitting into divisions for basketball, it would be fun to just have everyone together. It's not a great basketball conference, but we do have three great teams in Texas A&M, Arizona, and Connecticut.
However, besides for Arizona State and Oklahoma, I don't see a team that I can look at and say, "Oregon State could beat these guys." TAMU, UA, and UCONN all went to the Big Dance last year, while Nebraska, Alabama, and California all played in the NIT. This isn't a great basketball conference, but it's not bad either.
The way I see it, the baseball conference can be broken down into three tiers:
There could be some great three game series in the conference, say Texas A&M at Oregon State, California at Arizona, and Connecitcut at Arizona State.
I like this conference a lot for baseball. It looks a lot better than some of the other conferences in the project.
How does The Empire stack up against other conferences?
First, let's take a look at the five other conferences:
Cult of Les Miles: LSU, Michigan, UNC, Stanford, Arkansas, Iowa, Oklahoma State, South Carolina
House of a Thousand Sanctions: USC, Notre Dame, Oregon, Tennessee, Syracuse, Kentucky, Pittsburgh, BYU, Colorado
Conference TMZ: Ohio State, Florida State, Louisville, Michigan State, West Virginia, Maryland, Missouri, Utah
Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants: Florida, Penn State, Virginia Tech, Miami (Florida), Auburn, Kansas, Illinois, TCU
The 12 Pack: Texas, Georgia, UCLA, Wisconsin, Washington, Duke, Clemson, Virginia, Boston College
I think that the only conference better than The Empire right now is the Cult of Les Miles. I'm a huge Pac-12 guy, but if I was in charge of The Empire, I would have gone with teams like Iowa, Oklahoma State, and South Carolina before Arizona State and California.
Still, I love our conference, and with a couple good late round picks we could be the best one out there. Which brings us to:
Who should The Empire take next?
The way I see it, the top five teams still on the board are Hawaii, Vanderbilt, Georgia Tech, Purdue, and Cincinnati. Ironically, all of these teams are being debated in the super top secret war room.
My vote is for Hawaii. They are going to be a Top 25 football team this season and have a small bit of history in football (Colt Brennan, Sugar Bowl, etc.). They also have a great stadium, great fans, great weather, and win the NCAA award for frequent flyer miles every year.
They have okay basketball and baseball teams, but the main selling point in my opinion is football. Plus, we could hold our conference meetings in Honolulu every year.
Vanderbilt does have a great basketball team and a very good baseball team, but a bad football team is a major problem. All of our picks so far have been at least decent at football, and Vanderbilt would ruin the trend. Still, the Nashville TV market is intriguing.
I put Georgia Tech in just because of the Atlanta market and the fact that we don't have an ACC team. I think this would be a good pick in a couple of rounds, but not right now.
Purdue and Cincinnati are being debated hard in the war room, Purdue because of their great basketball and the fact that they are the best Big Ten team left, and Cincinnati because of their good football and the fact that it gets us into the midwest with a pretty good TV market.
So, what do you guys think? Should we go to the islands, country music land, hot-lanta, or the midwest? Or we could go Larry Scott on them and select Zhejiang University out of China, because as Scott would say, the west coast is the gateway to the Pacific Rim :) Let us know and we'll be sure to pass it along in the war room.