Monday, February 12, 2007

For Charlotte, it's football or bust

I read with interest, as many of you did, the Observer's story Sunday about the pluses and minuses of adding football to Charlotte 49ers athletics. It is clear that any university that hopes to add football now is going to need large sums of money to do it. It is also clear that as each day passes, the cost goes higher and the prospects become less likely.

Charlotte needs football because, fair or not, conference alignments and future realignments are biased toward football-playing schools.

Anyone who thinks the Atlantic 10 was a step up for Charlotte after Conference USA -- particularly in basketball -- is not taking an objective look at the situation as it exists today. The closest conference rival to Charlotte is a five-hour drive. If you have no local rivals, your next hope is schools that have strong programs and are likely to attract fans based on their success. Those are also lacking in today's A-10. And it seems to be getting worse.

Without football, I believe Charlotte is probably already in the best place it can be. As a supporter of the 49ers, you must ask yourself, "Is this where we want to be? Is this good enough?"

If the answer is no, the addition of football is Charlotte's last, best hope to return to conference affiliation that will include teams with regional ties or national success that will encourage fan attendance in all of the school's sports.

Thatleaves little wiggle room. If Charlotte writes off football, it might as well ask for a application to the Southern Conference right now because the rivalries with nearby schools will be the only hope the 49ers have of attracting attention and breeding success in their athletic programs in the long run.

-- Jim Utter


Wisdom from high on the mtn. said...

Don't expect the SoCon to be eager to add a non-football playing Charlotte program.

The SoCon has been a 1-AA powerhouse in football for years and already has a strong basketball-led school in Davidson.

Maybe the Niners should consider the Big South conference. If they do add football, they would be a doormat in the SoCon for several years.

Looks like the progressive leaders of UNC Charlotte really missed the boat on this one. Shame on you for not supporting the investment that Mullins and Lutz have made in building a quality program.

Why would a recruit want to come play in the A-10?

Anonymous said...

If football is not added now, Charlotte 49ers athletics will fall off the face of the earth. It is really hard to go watch our basketball games now, thinking of what used to be or what could have been.
It took us being stuck in the A10 to start getting serious about football. Who knows where we will end up after the next big conference realignment??? Most of our fans will be long gone by then anyways if it keeps going like this.

Anonymous said...

Without football and needing "local" rivalries, maybe the Charlotte administration will ask for admission to the Atlantic Sun Conference, The SoCon and Big South won't take them. Instant rivalry with Gardner-Webb, Campbell and USC Upstate, and yearly trips to Fort Myers (Florida Gulf Coast), Deland (Stetson) and Jacksonville (JU and North Florida). Those curtains they drop for women's basketball and volleyball will become premanently dropped.

Glory days, oh where have they gone?

Anonymous said...

Vote For Football ClapClap Clap Clap Clap

Vote For Football ClapClap
Clap Clap Clap!!!!!!!!!

chevee said...

It gets really annoying that I can never go to an away game with a serious investment in time and money. I hope we get football, and it is as positive as we all seem to be speculating.

Go Niners!

survivor45 said...

Sweet Jesus, the SoCon and the Big South Conference arguments are driving me up the wall.

I've been arguing for football for a really long time, but I'm not so shortsighted to think that a move to the Big South or the SoCon will benefit more than the A-10.

Jim, were people bitching about the far-flung teams from Texas to Saint Louis that Charlotte had to play in C-USA? The U of Cincinnati is as far away as Xavier! Was anyone counting down the calender days until we played the big game vs. future-conference rival Wofford?

Jim do you really believe that college athletics is so static that nothing ever changes? There are some fine coaches coming into the A-10 with a little bit of a brain to realize that there are some terrific recruiting hubs. Plus in the past, kids that were choosing schools outside the Power 6 conferences were bypassing the college programs in DC, Philly, Pittsburgh, and NYC to play for Southern Mississippis or Tulanes. Now that Conference USA has lost all the great teams up top, which conference do you think they will end up at?

Have you taken a close look at the underclassmen in the A-10 and wondered why there's been a sudden improvement of teams at the bottom of the conference? Maybe the conference is on the road to becoming a more attractive option. If they get the TV thing figured out, I can all but guarantee it will become THE attractive option outside the BCS conferences.

Don't let this year's Murphy's Law season cause you to not see the overall picture. There won't be this many players getting shot or underclassmen around the conference every year. This may arguably be among the worst years, if not THE worst year ever for the conference and it's still in position for a Top 10 finish. It's not getting worse like you say, Jim. How could you objectively look at the A-10 and predict a grimmer future?

Anonymous said...

Why are we talking about playing b-ball in the Socon or big south?

Playing in a conference that is close to home wont do much good if the majority of the teams in the conference are horrible

Anonymous said...


Vote for Football!!!!!

Anonymous said...

oRegarding Wisdom On High's post

I would imagine a recruit would much rather play in the a-10 than big south or socon any day of the week!

wisdom from high on the mtn said...

Oh, and by the way...keep enjoying those Homecoming basketball games...What a joke

Get football, restore the promise of your once promising basketball program, and remember Bobby Lutz chose to stay with the 49ers. Imagine what he could do if you could get 25% of your student population to attend a basketball game on a regular basis.

From a former season ticket holder, you've gotta have football if you want to end this slide b4 it's too late

Anonymous said...

"Imagine what he could do if YOU could get 25% of YOUR student population to attend a basketball game on a regular basis."

What school do you attend, Wisdom? In your first comment you complained about "us" being stuck in the A-10 but now I'm seeing cracks in your armor. What a surprise: someone who attended another school is trying to encourage Charlotte to move to a crappy conference.

Wisdom from high on the Mtn said...

"What school do you attend, Wisdom? In your first comment you complained about "us" being stuck in the A-10 but now I'm seeing cracks in your armor. What a surprise: someone who attended another school is trying to encourage Charlott'e to move to a crappy conference."

You should read before you react. What I am encouraging Charlotte to do is to get football. This will avoid the major mistake of being forced into the A-10.
Conference USA was a great conference for Charlotte and the Big East could have been better. But the "visionaries" at Charlotte, chose to take the Football is expensive mentality (that doesn't stop ODU or even Campbell University from fielding a team.

Football = 1. Overall school recognition
2. A gathering event for the entire university, alumni, and the greater community
3. Football is not a game, it's an event, a day on campus
4. It allows your basketball team to compete at the level that it deserves. Mullins and Lutz have built a respected and successful program.
In today's environment, without football you are merely deflating the entire athletic program

Who care's about the A-10. It's a Northeastern League without starpower.
Conference USA had Louisville, Marquette, DePaul, Memphis, Cincy, etc. And Charlotte competed successfully against these programs

You can knock the SoCon and Big South all you want, but they have football.

I'm not knocking Charlotte, but this is definitely Ghose of Christmas Future material. Get Football or the athletic department will fall back to pre-Sun Belt days

49or bust said...

Football is the key to our future. This is not even debatable. If we do not end up getting a team, serious damage could be done to my personal feelings for this school. I am young and only became a true Niner when I began attending 3 years ago. I LOVE my school, but if we pass on football again, I think it will truly break my heart. It's like watching the captain of our ship throw in the anchor in in hopes of riding out this terrible storm, instead of making a run for dry land... land with really hot cheerleaders and tailgating going on and very few clouds in the sky.

Ok, enough with the analogy. Point is, Jim is dead on. If we don't get football, we can say goodbye to any dreams we have of continuing our current level of growth and success, and hello to mediocrity. We wont have another chance to make it big athletically for at least 20 years if we don't get this team, and I don't think I can make it. Not after being this close.

On another note, we will play in SoCon as a football only school. We may be new, but I think we would be attractive to them. There is a lot of football talent in this area and added media attention for the SoCon. I really see it happening. But the idea of us moving the bball team to SoCon is dreadfully awful. This better not ever happen or it could have the same effect for the school (and me) as not getting a football team right now.

JAT said...

Jim & co. --

That CO story had serious holes in it, many of which you guys have aleady poked thru.

But it must be clearly said that unless UNCC aspires to be VCU -- with student fees providing over 80 percent of the football-less AD budget and an afterthought in a major metro media market -- then UNCC needs football.

It is a travesty that Phil Dubois is trying to duck this issue.

Anonymous said...

Here's the plan:

Play football DI-AA and all olympic sports in the SoCON. Play basketball in the A-10. Do that until the football team is ready to jump to DI-A. Play as an independent DI team for a few years and then move all athletic programs to the Big East. Then in 20 years, final destination...the ACC.

Anonymous said...

Likely will play DI-AA football in the Colonial with the other A-10 football playing schools.

49RFootballNow said...

The Big South would be happy to have us as a football only member. Last I checked they only had five teams. Lots of room to schedule Ap.St., ECU, or a few of our friends from A-10(CAA),or better even still, an ACC team or two. I would love to see us play Coastal Carolina while we stay in DI-AA.

The SoCon would be better, but they'ld probably want ALL our sports. I would rather play all other sports in SoCon and Basketball in the A-10.

The ultimate goal is to get us to DI-A, then get ourselves(and maybe ECU with us) into the Big East. Lets not even waste time with ACC and SEC pipedreams.

Pete said...

I think these posts are great but a little short-sighted.

If we would have had DI fottball a couple of years ago, we'd be in the Big East right now.

The day is coming--at some point--where the money and DI playoff thing is going to hit the fan and some group of schools is going to bond and leave the NCAA. I promise you, every university has had this discussion and it is an ongoing, albeit covert topic.

When the dust settles tradition will be weighted but not as heavily as some would think.

Major markets that appeal to the big advertisers (think professional sports) will be a huge part of the equation.

Many, but not all of the big boys, will go. And they will need some also-rans/upstarts to round out their schedules/conferences.

That's our oppportunity for the big-time but we need to have something up-and-running now to even be considered when that day comes (I'd say in 5-10 years).