Georgia on My Mind: What Georgia State's Move Means for Mid-Major Realignment

Colin KearneyContributor IApril 9, 2012

ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 12:  A general view of GSU Sports Arena as head coach Ron Hunter of the Georgia State Panthers directs his team against the the UNC-Wilmington Seahawks on January 12, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia.  Hunter coaches his fifth annual barefoot game in support of Samaritan's Feet, an organization that provides shoes for underprivileged children in over 62 countries around the world.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Georgia State, how we hardly knew ye.

Since joining the Colonial Athletic Association in 2005, the Panthers seemed to be one of the rising teams in the conference.

They were in the middle of the pack in basketball and conference champions in golf. Additionally, they provided a southern boundary for the CAA and a market in Atlanta.

However, today the university announced its abrupt departure from the Colonial to the Sun Belt, a conference it participated in from 1976 to 1981. 

The underlying question here is, what move the CAA—and other mid-major conferences—will make next.

It would seem obvious that the CAA will replace the Panthers with another team to even out to twelve again.

Due to UMass's and Rhode Island's departure as football-only members of the conference the next two years, it would seem appropriate to bring in a school that boasts success on both the field and court.

Additionally, I would not be the least bit surprised if the CAA adds more than just a team or two to fill its quota.

With the multitude of rumors swirling that both George Mason and VCU could bolt to the Atlantic 10, it would do no harm to have some insurance teams brought in, if that became true. 

With these ideas in mind, I think it would be best for the Colonial to bring in Liberty, Davidson, and Appalachian State.

These three programs are natural fits to the conference's current geography, while additionally creating new markets in Virginia and North Carolina.

They also bring in some percentage of national credibility—and with the CAA's new contract with NBC Sports in the upcoming year—it would help their viewership in both sports, I think.

Other teams to be considered could include Murray State, Butler, Coastal Carolina, or Georgia Southern.

This contract with NBC provides a great deal of leverage to the conference to bring in a prominent group of mid-majors and not only elevate the conference's credibility, but it's television viewership throughout most of the mid-Atlantic.