Ya know, the Saint Louis Billikens sure do seem to get an awful lot of attention considering the program. Respectfully, they are a mid-level Atlantic-10 team that has made a mere 6 NCAA Tournament appearances in their extensive history. Don’t get me wrong, having the spotlight on you when you cannot receive it through basketball is not necessarily a bad thing, and SLU has done a great job at doing just that. One of the reasons for that would have to be the firing of Brad “BS” Soderberg and the hiring of the great Rick Majerus at a time that no other teams were in the “you’re fired, your hired” phase just yet. With SLU doing this, Sports Center had no option but to say something about it.
Another reason for the attention might just be the continuous rumors of Saint Louis wanting to join the Missouri Valley Conference after becoming a member of the A10 just 3 years ago. Not only is SLU interested in joining the MVC… God himself, Rick Majerus, appears to be the mastermind behind the idea. Reports say that when Majerus agreed to coach SLU, he pushed the idea of joining the MVC as a precondition to taking the job.
This would not be Saint Louis’ first stent with the Missouri Valley Conference. After 37 years with the MVC, SLU departed in 1974. Since that date, Saint Louis has been a part of 7 different conferences including: Metro, Midwestern Cities, Midwestern Collegiate, Horizon, Great Midwest, C-USA, and the Atlantic-10. Saint Louis joined and later left those conferences with the intent of being part of more high-profile conferences. When SLU joined the A10 in 2005, it looked as if they had found the perfect match with what looked to be a very up-and-coming conference with mass-potential to be very solid. The Billikens entered the conference when both were peaking, but both have seemed to cycle down over the last few years. Although, I personally think that both are heading for an upswing soon. Especially with SLU absolutely dominating in the past recruiting year signing future stars that include: Brett Thompson (#25 C in nation, 8/10 star recruit), Kwamain Mitchell (#37 PG in nation, 8/10 star), and Brian Conklin (#47 PF, 8/10). *According to ESPN*. Not to mention the commitment of 3 different 8 star recruits so far this recruiting year. Is Rick Majerus the backbone of all the new recruiting? I think yes.
Honestly, though, I hardly blame SLU for wanting to get out of the A10. I’m not going to lie; the A10 referees suck something awful. Other than that is the fact that I live in the St. Louis area and, having all the channels, I still get to watch hardly any SLU games on TV. Let’s be straight up honest, the A10 has some issues... officials and TV packages leading the way. Unless the A10 is magically rejuvenated this year, my advice to SLU is to look somewhere else. I mean, why not? Heck, even the MVC Tournament is held in St. Louis, in SLU’s arena! Seeing that we are on the topic of geographics, how about someone look at a map of the states that have A10 schools in them that I have posted at the top of this post (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atlantic_Ten_Conference)? The nearest school is in Ohio! And while the MVC is not saying yes, they aren't exactly saying no to the idea. The MVC commish was quoted saying, “I can't imagine there is an institution that is a more perfect fit for our schools.” Of course, referring to Saint Louis.
While the MVC commish has put in his 2-cents, it appears that Saint Louis is going to keep all of this on the down-low for now. I’ll give them that because I know I would be pissed if the nearest possible city to play in, besides your own, was Dayton, OH. Do you guys have any idea how much money that is in expenses considering that SLU has 11 road games this ’08-’09 season? Where as, in the MVC, the FURTHEST city is Omaha, Nebraska.
In conclusion, the Saint Louis Billikens joining “The Valley” really does seem like a valid idea. I think it would be a great move if SLU intends on staying there for a little while. However SLU, if you are not ready for a long-term commitment, stay put, or go somewhere else. With recent success, The Valley has a pretty good image right now and I know that it would be in jeopardy if you are just going to pull a one-night-stand with them. It does get a bit annoying when Saint Louis is constantly moving from one conference to another aimlessly. Either way, I do think that the addition of SLU into the MVC family would somewhat spice things up a bit considering SLU already has rivalries with Bradley, Drake, and Southern Illinois. It would only heat up if SLU was to merge with The Valley. If the MVC was to add SLU, they would likely look into adding Butler as well to make it a 12-team conference, or possibly make Western Kentucky a full-time member.
Bottom line is that I totally LOVE the idea to be perfectly honest and hope that SLU would take advantage of the opportunity. Being in the MVC would mean stepping up competition-wise but do not be alarmed… Whichever way SLU decides to go, they really do have a bright future and are only getting better.
Please tell me what you think in the comment section below. Thanks!