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GLIAC should contract, not expand any further

Better yet, blow up the entire league

October 31, 2011
The Mining Journal

Did you enjoy watching the Tiffin Dragons at the Superior Dome on Saturday? Of course you didn't, because you weren't there.

If you were one of the 2,933 in attendance, you were probably there to watch Band Day, because unlike the Dragons, those high school musicians actually had some talent.

Tiffin, which was routed by Northern Michigan University 59-3, better resembled a high school football program - no offense to high school football players or coaches.

Article Photos

Tiffin’s Phillip Morris returns a kick on Saturday at the Superior Dome against Northern?Michigan. The Dragons one and only GLIAC football win came during their first year in the league back in 2008 against NMU. (Journal photo by Matt Keiser)

The Dragons couldn't kick, their defense was horrendous and their quarterback either really struggled to read coverages or was confused as to whether Tiffin was in green or white.

Despite the offensive explosion by the Wildcats, it was a bad football game to watch, especially in the second half.

I understand why fans chose to spend their hard earned cash elsewhere on Saturday and if the GLIAC does what it is rumored to do, there will be even more games worth skipping at the Superior Dome, no matter how good, bad or mediocre the Wildcats are.

According to reports out of Canton, Ohio, the GLIAC will expand to 16 members by picking up two more NAIA programs in Ohio who are making the transition to NCAA Division II. Malone University and Walsh University are set to join the conference in 2012.

Where are Malone and Walsh located in the state of Ohio, you ask? They're right next to Tiffin, Ohio Dominican and Lake Erie College - off the radar of even the most passionate sports fan and no where near the recruiting footprint of NMU.

Even Ashland and Findlay - two schools the average fan is unaware of - are pulling open Google Maps to find their new conference neighbors.

The addition of the two Canton, Ohio schools would bring the GLIAC to 16 teams and most likely lead to two eight-school divisions.

In the North Division, you'd have eight of the nine Michigan schools: NMU, Michigan Tech, Lake Superior State, Ferris State, Grand Valley State, Saginaw Valley State, Wayne State and Northwood.

In the South Division, you'd have Hillsdale - it's approximately 1,500 students reside about 20 miles from the Ohio border - and the seven Ohio schools: Ashland, Findlay, Lake Erie College, Ohio Dominican, Tiffin, Malone and Walsh.

Not good and not bad, but how about this: Why not form two separate leagues or better yet, just blow up the GLIAC?

Conference realignment in Division II might be the last thing many want to see after what happened in Division I hockey this summer, but the shakeup left the Wildcats in a much better position financially and competitively for the future.

Ideally the rest of the Wildcat sports should join up with those in hockey - minus the programs in Alaska, as well as all-Division I Bowling Green State.

A league of "like-minded" hockey schools consisting of NMU, LSSU, MTU, Ferris, Minnesota State-Mankato and Bemidji State would be too few members, though, especially since the Lakers don't sponsor football.

However, if you threw in the Mavericks' and Beavers' Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference rivals from Minnesota-Duluth and St. Cloud State, plus GLIAC powers GVSU, SVSU and Wayne State, you'd have a competitive league that fans from all these universities could get behind.

Like the GLIAC, the NSIC has been watered down in recent years, with NAIA jumpers Minot State (North Dakota) and University of Sioux Falls (South Dakota) set to join the league next year.

I can't imagine National Collegiate Hockey Conference members SCSU and UMD are thrilled to add those two minnows to their football and basketball home slates.

The GLIAC took a step in the right direction a few years back when Erie, Penn., schools Mercyhurst and Gannon were jettisoned. There was no good reason to replace them with Lake Erie, Ohio Dominican and Tiffin, however, at least from the perspective of those in Michigan.

If the GLIAC can move on minus the doormats from Ohio, I fully support Northern's continued relationship with the GLIAC.

Otherwise, it's time for the Huskies and Wildcats to pull a North Dakota and look elsewhere with "like-minded schools."

Matt Wellens can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 252.



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