Lone Star Conference Football Media Day is always a fun time for me because it marks the anniversary of my return to written journalism in the Stephenville market.
It was in 2007 that I covered the first LSC Media Day in downtown Fort Worth. It was the first assignment I covered for the local paper that I ended up working at for seven full years.
LSC Media Day was the first big, out of town, multi-school event I covered for The Flash Today back in the summer of 2014, and for the 10th straight year, the ninth it has been a physical event and not just one in cyberspace, LSC Media Day marked the start of a new year of sports this past week.
This time it was a trip to Odessa, to the MGM Grande Fun Dome, and it was no different than the rest. The commissioner, it’s changed from Stan Wagnon to Jay Poerner through the Media Day era, shared stats that make the LSC appear to be a power in football. Then came the coach-speak, and 10 straight reminders that preseason polls don’t mean anything and that this conference has parity and that in college football (or any sport) anything can happen from week to week.
But this media day was different. For the first time since the defection of several Oklahoma schools from the LSC to the new Great American Conference and the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletic Association, the conference had more schools represented than the year prior.
Three more this time, in fact. Yes, by last year, the LSC looked as if it was holding on by a thread with just seven head coaches taking the podium. There were actually nine members with Cameron (Okla.) and Texas Woman’s, but neither fields a Division II football outfit.
But for the first time since 2009, the conference entered media day stronger than the year before. When it comes to scheduling and travel concerns, there really is strength in numbers. Seven is not a good number in this business. But 10? Ten is a number you can work with.
With ten football teams – Texas-Permian Basin and Western New Mexico are new full-fledge members while Oklahoma Panhandle State is an affiliate member just for football – each LSC member faces a nine-game round-robin conference schedule.
Nine games in stead of six.
Therefore, no rematch-filled LSC playoff tournament that nobody seemed to like but everybody seemed to need in order to fill out a 10 or 11-game slate. When there were only six “other” LSC teams, it meant finding four or five non-conference games or finding two or three and also having the playoff. With nine LSC contests, teams are free to schedule whoever they want the remaining two games, and with plenty good teams in the league in a given year, they can even do so without too much concern over normal worries such as strength of schedule.
Tarleton, for example, has one “money” game, covering the expense of one contest by being paid to open its season on the road against Division I-FCS and Southland Conference member McNeese State (La.). It’s other non-conference game, Southwest Baptist (Mo.), fills out its home schedule and is conveniently tucked between said money game and the beginning of LSC play.
It will help in other sports too. Even in striking OPSU from the conversation outside of football, men’s basketball teams now have 20 conference games, and women’s teams are up to 22 LSC contests. Men’s teams must fill basically seven holes on their schedule and women’s clubs about five. Easy.
UTPB is in its first year in football, and isn’t going to contend for a national championship in a single team sport in the near future. Neither, by the way, is WNMU or the football team at OPSU. But this was never about strength. If those teams beat no one except each other, it doesn’t matter. The LSC already has power, it needed numbers.
And in the constant numbers battle of college sports, 10 is a lot better than seven on the gridiron. And 11 is better than eight or nine in everything else.