9 min read

The Summer Doldrums

RMLC rumors, some slight Salt Lake City hate, and more

We are in that boring part of the summer when I finally start to remember how much I miss lacrosse season. With school starting next month it's time to start spinning back up the rumor mill and talking 2020.

One of our goals has been to nail down the best way to deliver content on an ongoing basis. Twitter is great, but the short form and ephemeral life span of a tweet means it's not ideal for delivering ideas that require more nuance than 280 characters.

Earlier this summer I subscribed to substack newsletter for one of my favorite college football writers (@MattSBN). I realized that a newsletter format could be the perfect medium. So we are giving it a go.

If you don't want to subscribe to an email right now, we will post links to each issue on social media and the website.

If you are interested in having this show up conveniently in your mailbox every few weeks, enter your email address below to join our list 👇🏻

Oklahoma and Texas to the RMLC?

It's not a secret the RMLC has lost a bit of its luster this past year. In 2018 3 RMLC teams punched tickets the tournament with Utah at #2, Colorado at #4 and BYU at #7.

In 2019 only Colorado found their way back to the tournament as the #7 seed. Granted, Utah wasn't really eligible, but no excuses. It was the first year since 1997 that the RMLC (previously the RMILL) sent a single team to the tournament.

A topic of conversation last season became can the RMLC survive with only 4 DI teams?. With only 4 teams the RMLC isn't eligible for an automatic qualifier. As the overall strength of the conference has been dropping, that question of if they really need an AQ is no longer a slam dunk no.

So expansion makes sense, but where they are looking to expand might cause you to scratch your head.

The not-very-secret rumor floating around is that Texas and Oklahoma have approached the RMLC about joining the league. Not the first two teams you would have guessed.

I have a lot of thoughts on this, but I thought it would be good to get an opposing opinion. So here's my podcast co-host Taylor Redd (@TRedd) to pitch why he thinks this move may make a lot of sense.

The Case For - Taylor Redd

I’m not sure what the rationale was for Oklahoma and Texas to want to jump ship from the LSA. I think you bring up great points on why this is a little bit of a head-scratcher on their part. However, from what I’ve heard, they approached the RMLC. So there must be some reason this is a draw for them.

Instead, I’m going to focus on why this makes sense for the RMLC.

This absolutely makes sense for them. And not just a little bit; it makes a lot of sense.

First off, we can talk about other teams that might make more sense for the RMLC all we want (hear our podcast argument for the PNCLL-RMLC merger here). The reality is, no other teams (to my knowledge) are asking to join. I don’t see a great reason for any other league to merge with the RMLC. (My guess is the PNCLL will make sure Idaho has enough qualifying games next year or they’ll bring College of Idaho into D1 in order to get their AQ back).

In the past I thought maybe UNLV and Boise State making the jump would make a lot of sense. However, with the need to add two teams and UNLV dropping to D2, that scenario doesn’t really play out. So, this makes sense purely based on the lack of any legitimate, alternative options.

Secondly, I think the travel issue is overstated. From what I’ve been told, Oklahoma and Texas will travel to one another so the Utah/Colorado schools can play both of them in the same weekend. This means that the RMLC schools will need to go to Austin every four years and Norman every four. For example, Colorado and CSU might go to Norman in 2020 where they will both play Texas and Oklahoma. In 2021, UT and OU would go to Colorado. 2022 would have both Colorado schools go to Austin to play UT and OU there.

Essentially, this is adding 1 trip every other year to your schedule. That’s not ideal but it’s not bad. Especially when you factor in Austin is a great early season destination due to the weather. If I were a coach, I would try to schedule that trip in February and get another school to come out there for a third game. I’m thinking FSU, BC, VT, GT, etc. If you joined the PNCLL, you’d have to make a trip at least every other year and I doubt it would be as favorable.

The one downside I could see is if one of the new schools decides to back out of the partnership in the future. I do think this is a real possibility. However, the downside of that seems minimal. If someone backs out, just reorganize at that point back to the original format. It’s not like the RMLC is shutting the door on another opportunity.

To me, this seems like a very small potential downside for the immediate upside of having a conference with an AQ.


The Case Against - Jordan Harris

I just don't see who this makes sense for.

If you are Oklahoma and Texas it seems like you want to align yourself with a better conference, but I'm not sure what that adds to your program other than guaranteeing you get some big name home games every few years.

Texas hasn't won the LSA since 2014 and Oklahoma has never won it. If it’s about getting a better path to the tournament, I don't think this is the move. The Selection Committee made it pretty clear last year that what they really cared about was Top 25 wins (we need to discuss this more later). They aren't punishing teams for having a weak schedule. So if Texas/Oklahoma are good enough to win Top 25 games, they won't need the RMLC to make the tournament. They can schedule a few of Top 25 games, win them, and be in the discussion every year.

If they aren't good enough to win Top 25 games, they aren't going to threaten in the RMLC. Their path to the tournament will be even more difficult than it would have been with the fall back of winning the weaker, potentially Top 25less, LSA.

From the RMLC side, I see this as a stop-gap solution to get to 6 teams. Maybe they can eventually entice more LSA teams to jump ship and create an RMLC East/West split with BYU/UVU/CU/CSU on the west side. In the short term you are adding required travel to teams that have very little recent records of staying in the Top 25.

I think UVU will continue to get better this year and provide a consistent 3rd Top 25 team for the RMLC. CSU also isn't far off from being in that mix. Even if 3-4 teams are 10-25 teams instead of the traditional 1-10, I still think they can survive a year or two more without an AQ. The winner of the RMLC would be going to the tournament either way for now.

I'd rather see a more measured and scalable approach to expanding the league than making the easy choice of adding the first two teams that ask. It's quite possible there are more considerations that I'm not privy to. Until those reasons are more clear, I hope this is a move the RMLC thinks better of this fall.

SLC 2020

It seems like every tournament venue has had its set of issues the past 10 years.

Colorado ('09-'11) seemed to have the perfect layout of fields and championship venue, but I guess people didn't love hiding in bathrooms from tornadoes on a consistent basis.

Greenville ('12-'13) was an awesome town, but being so far from any airline hub made travel a nightmare, and Serene Stadium left something to be desired.

Irvine ('14-'17) had the weather, but there were always calls to get to a more central location. Oh, and they killed the grass on one of the game fields the week before the tournament came, which led to a game played on essentially a dirt field.

Enter Salt Lake City in 2018. Last year, outside a thunderstorm that threatened to, but ultimately didn't postpone the semi-finals, the weather was fine. This year the first round of DI games were pushed back by an hourish after hurricane force winds that took down much of the tournament "infrastructure". Huge credit to the tournament staff who not only got the games back on track, but ended up getting the streaming back up and running as well.

The downside of Salt Lake is that the venue is very "meh". The "Championship Venue" feels exactly like the first round fields with a nicer scoreboard and a few stands. A lot of teams in the MCLA play in more exciting home stadiums. It makes the tournament feel "small time".

With so many teams qualifying from the east coast this year, the complaints about Salt Lake picked up pace on Twitter. Also the swarm of mosquitos that descended on the fields each day was a point of consternation, spawning not one, not two, not three, but FOUR MCLA tournament mosquito twitter accounts.

Word had been that SLC was a two year deal with an option for a 3rd year, so there was hope that a new venue would be chosen for 2020. A few weeks after the tournament we got the answer.

The response wasn't overwhelmingly positive, to put it nicely.

I'm not going to claim to have a bunch of insider info on what drives the decisions for the tournament locations, but I will say this: they aren't made in bad faith. There is no agenda driving the selection beyond what they believe is the location that will best suit the needs of the league. Budget, access, venues, etc are all discussed. You can disagree with their conclusions, but I do think they are made with the best intentions and with a lot of factors to consider that aren't public knowledge.

We'll talk more about the Round Rock venue later, but for now make sure you follow your favorite MCLA Tournament Mosquito account to stay up to date with the 2020 Tournament.

Quick Hits

🥍 Kiywii, who lit up social media this spring with his incredible footage, was hired to work with the PLL this summer as a content creator. I’m not going to ascribe his success to his MCLA coverage, but it’s a great illustration that high quality work will get your noticed no matter which league you cover.

🥍 Dave Franklin has stayed on top of a lot of MCLA coaching news this summer. He’s worth a follow on twitter.

🥍 If you are a coach and haven’t tuned in to any of Jamie Munro’s Virtual Lacrosse Summits, they are worth taking some time to watch. The website isn’t overly intuitive and their email marketing borders on obnoxious, but the content is really good. Check it out here.

🥍 If you aren't watching the PLL, you should if for no other reason than to check out the rule changes they have implemented. I've been a big proponent of staying in line with the NCAA rulebook, but the 100 yard field would be a fantastic change for the MCLA. After seeing how much more fun the PLL is to watch than the MLL, I could be talked in to making the MCLA a more fun brand of college lacrosse by adopting some new rules.

🥍 The MCLA released 2019 Scholar Athletes. There was no representation from the entire RMLC.

Image result for unimpressed kid face

🥍 Santa Clara is looking for a new head coach. Maybe. According to the article on MCLA.us announcing the change

The Santa Clara men's lacrosse program is seeking an offensive coordinator, with a potential for a head coaching position for the right individual.

If they aren't the right individual, who is the head coach?

🥍 High school lacrosse participation has declined for the 3rd straight year in Colorado. I don’t really have any deep analysis on why or solutions to fix it. I did talk with a Colorado parent who said everyone on their high school team was paying roughly $700 a season to play. Their team didn’t make the playoffs. That’s a pretty high barrier to climb for the fringe kids.

If you know someone who you think might enjoy this, forward this on! If you aren’t subscribed and you made it this far, you probably should just subscribe.