Many Usual Topics Heating Up at This Year's Convention
With the coaches and other college hockey administrators meeting for their annual convention in Naples, Fla., this week, a number of long-standing issues are on the table.
And while there's nothing earth-shatteringly new on the agenda, the old topics may be heating up.
Among the usual topics of recruiting, NCAA tournament format and overtimes, is the continuing fate of Arizona State.
Arizona State goes into its third year of existence, still looking for a conference home. Last year, it thought it was close to a deal with the NCHC, but that relationship proved far more elusive than ASU thought.
This year, conversations are taking place with the WCHA, and those will likely heat up in Naples. The exact nature of it remains unclear, but it's safe to say that both sides are trying to negotiate a way that it works for each party.
For Arizona State, the question is whether it wants to commit to the WCHA given its aspirations for a bigger conference when, and if, it gets a new arena built.
The questions for the WCHA include, how much will ASU commit to travel costs for opponents, and whether it can get a commitment from ASU to stick around for a while.
Of course, this is an evergreen topic sure to get more discussion. The large majority of coaches have been in favor of the four-regional, neutral-site system. The only question is whether there has been any shift in sentiment over the last couple of years. That remains to be seen.
One thing you might see is a return to campus sites being allowed to host Regionals. Given the lack of Regional bids the NCAA is getting, this may be necessary just to re-open the West, especially, to more possible venues. When the tournament went to Regionals in the early 1990s, this was allowed. But it was eventually phased out by the mid-2000s.
The other possibility is that the No. 1 seed automatically becomes the host of the Regional. This has issues in terms of crowd capacity and television.
Then, of course, there will be the continued talk of just going back to best-of-3 series in the first round.
It should be noted that, on this and all topics, what the coaches want is not necessarily a binding thing. Various NCAA committees make the ultimate decisions. But the wishes of the coaches have always been a major consideration, and if an overwhelming amount of coaches lean against an idea, that idea is usually squashed. We've seen that recently when the Big Ten tried to lower the age limit, and when the Rules Committee attempted to put in 4-on-4 overtime as a standard.
The NCAA Rules committee has been wanting a uniform system across the board. Right now, the conferences all have different OT structures, though the basic 5-on-5 for the first five minutes of OT is the only thing officially sanctioned by the NCAA. Anything that happens after that — 3-on-3s, shootouts, etc... — only counts towards conference standings.
There is growing sentiment to at least move to 4-on-4 overtime in a way that will count towards official NCAA records. Then the question arises as to whether those results will have full weight in the Pairwise, or whether the Pairwise will be tweaked to only count 4-on-4 results as a fraction of win/loss, or something to that effect.
This is another evergreen topic that gets more and more dicey, it seems, every year. There are fewer and fewer schools abiding by the old "gentleman's agreement," which theoretically prevented teams from contacting a player once he'd verbally committed to another school. That system has been abused, many believe, and has been partly responsible for players being recruited earlier and earlier, and verbally committing earlier and earlier.
The problem has always been that it's impossible to reach a consensus on what the solutions will be.