The SB Nation NCAA Conference Re-Draft Project And The Case For USF

It's getting to that point of the year where we have nothing to do. Unless you are one of the fortunate schools still playing in the NCAA Super Regionals, or your folksy head coach tries to discredit the incoming coach in waiting, there's nothing to write about.

Thankfully the guys at Cowboys Ride For Free (SBN's Oklahoma State blog) have come up with the SB Nation Conference Re-Draft Project. You can read all about the draft here, but let's focus on the criteria for selection.

What makes a school valuable? Well as one of the six conference commissioners, we leave that largely up to you, with a few important guidelines. First, bearing in mind that we are drafting athletics conferences, athletics should be weighted heaviest, if not exclusively.

While obviously we must consider athletics, the following are factors you may, but are not required to consider:

Academics
Co-eds
Weather/Desirability of Destination
Historic Success
Traditions
TV Revenue Potential
Ethics
Rivalries (two teams)

On the flipside, for purposes of this game there are two factors that are NOT to be considered. First, do not take travel/geographic concerns into consideration (I told you we invented teleporting).  In real life, Washington and Florida are unrealistic conference partners; in our world, that doesn't matter -- neither from a travel or time zone standpoint. Second, and related, while we may take individual rivalries into consideration (e.g. pairing Michigan and Ohio State), preservation of current conference history/rivalry/alliance is not to be considered. Hopefully for obvious reasons.

After the jump we will get into each category, and see how USF stacks up with the rest of the country.

Athletics: Obviously this wasn't the best year for athletics as a whole on Fowler Avenue; USF is ranked 77th in this years Director's Cup standings. USF is still ahead of BCS schools like Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Kansas, and Oregon State, but there is room for improvement. The football team is as consistent as you can be with another 8-win season, but both the men's and women's basketball teams took a step back compared to last year.

Our normally consistent Olympic sports also weren't up to par, with the exception of men's and women's soccer and women's tennis, who all made the NCAA Tournament. You did see improvement with sports like softball, volleyball, and both golf teams, who all took a step forward with extremely young squads. The men's tennis team should be back in the NCAAs next year after just missing this season. Baseball has all the potential in the world with the talent base in the Bay Area and the beautiful new stadium, but they haven't been to an NCAA Tournament since 2002 and clearly have not lived up to expectations over the last decade. (And they're bringing Lelo back for another year! Guess who edited this story and couldn't help himself.)

Academics: For a school that just celebrated its 50th anniversary, USF has made great strides to improve their academic standing. USF is one of 73 public universities to be named a Carnegie Foundation RU/VH school, which is the highest rank the Foundation awards. (RU/VH stands for a research university with very high activity.) USF also moved up from a Tier 3 school to be ranked #183 by the US News & World Report.

Co-eds: USF was ranked 20th in the country when it comes to the comely lasses on campus, and even I think that's a little low.

Location: Come on, who wouldn't want to come to Tampa for an away trip late in the season? Between the beaches, the restaurants, Busch Gardens, and ... other establishments for grown-ups, you have everything you could ask for when planning a weekend road trip.

TV Market: USF is the only Division I university that resides in the nation's 13th largest media market. That has to count for something.

Historic Success/Traditions: "South Park" is a month older than our football team, so that hasn't given us much time to build tradition or accumulate national success in football. Consider this an N/A for the next decade.

Rivalries: The lack of rivalries might actually play in USF's favor. The football team has been a group of nomads traveling from FCS to an FBS independent to C-USA to Big East, all in 14 years. You want USF to start a beef with Boston College? You got it. Need us to start a trophy game with Texas? Throw a bull head on a base and call it the Cattle Bowl. Except for TCU, no other BCS school has dealt with change more than USF.

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So there you have it. I know USF won't be selected in the first few rounds, but if you are looking for quality depth when starting a league, you can't go wrong with THESOUTHFLORIDABULLS.

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