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Responding To Criticism From The Growth Blog

Last week, I published an article by Brian Conlon of LaxKingsTV, where he listed out four NCAA D1 teams that he thought would add D1 men’s lacrosse in the next six years. This is an ambitious project for anyone to take on, and there are a number of different approaches one could take. The Growth Blog took issue with Brian’s approach, and even called our journalistic integrity into question, which quite honestly, I appreciate. This is especially true because no one has documented the growth of college lacrosse like The Growth Blog.

I’ve called people out before, and I’ve been called out before. Engaging is part of the process, and since The Growth Blog is  keeping us focused on delivering a high quality product, and raising some very good points, I’ll respond, instead of burying my head in the sand. This is why we do this!

The title of the piece was Who Will Add D1 Lacrosse Next?, and not Who Will Add D1 Lacrosse Next. It was a question, not a declarative statement, and Brian Conlon answered it. Perhaps TGB didn’t like his answer. That’s totally fair. I would agree that Brian’s argument was not the most scientific, and may have largely been based off of his own desires or biases. But that’s just what it was… an argument. The Growth Blog doesn’t like it? PERFECT! Let’s get this conversation going…

I probably could have edited it down, and removed some of the weaker reasoning, but as TGB stated, this was a post based a lot on feelings. Taking some of that out might have made us look better, but it might also lead to a less stimulating conversation. If the end result here is that we can move this conversation forward, then the Who Will Add D1 Lacrosse Next? post, and all the flak that has come with it, will be well worth it!

ND/Cuse Game Photos by Tommy Gilligan

So before I go any further, thanks to Brian Conlon for putting his thoughts out there, and thanks to The Growth Blog for responding. Now let’s take this prediction business to the next level…

The Growth Blog went through and dismissed a number of Brian’s arguments for WHY a school would add D1 lacrosse, such as existing facilities and club team success. Many of these arguments were solid. But in the midst of this dismantling, they also supplied some reasons for why teams might actually go D1, at least in their opinion. Here is what TGB offered up:

1) Money – Michigan raised $6M for men’s lacrosse. Money talks. I couldn’t agree more.

2) A willing and open-minded AD. See Michigan’s Dave Brandon. Another extremely strong point. Change without a willingness to change can be an uphill battle.

3) The school does not have women’s lacrosse, but could add women’s lacrosse in the future. This allows schools to provide new teams for both genders, in the same sport. I can buy that, and I’m all for equal expansion.

I thought all three of these proposed variables were excellent. If we add in the variables that Brian proposed, which the Growth Blog actually approved of, we can add in:

4) Strong local community of lacrosse players for in-state schools. See UConn (or UMass Lowell) as an example.

5) Existing Conference Affiliations. TGB says that this could help, and I’d tend to agree on face value. There seems to be a “keeping up with the Joneses” element here, but I’m not certain we’ve actually seen this play out that often. Probably needs to be researched more.

I would also add a couple reasons of my own:

– Small, private colleges wanting to improve their name recognition at top private schools could consider adding lacrosse to attract a new student body element. BU, Mercer, Furman, and Jacksonville all come to mind immediately.

– Schools without football scream opportunity. Football can be a money maker at bigger schools, and even some smaller schools, but for non-competitive programs, it can be a huge drain on resources. If a school knows they can never be competitive at football, they may be willing to give lacrosse a shot. BU dropped football years ago, and added lacrosse recently. Hofstra dropped football, but kept lacrosse. UMass Lowell also dropped football, and now they are adding lacrosse. I don’t think this applies to a school like USC or Florida, but for smaller schools, I believe it can be a difference maker. The cost structure is simply not as large, and can be deemed a better investment.

So now we have seven different potential reasons for a school to add lacrosse, some from TGB, some from Brian, two more from yours truly, and some of them are actually measurable, if we look back at the schools that have added lacrosse in recent years.

Now comes the fun part! The mathematics.

We actually need to look at every single D1 school to add the sport, starting with say, Notre Dame, since they were the last big school before Michigan to add lacrosse. It’s an arbitrary point, and if anyone has a better proposal for a different starting point, I’m all ears.

So, looking from there, we need to look at how each school fit into the above criteria points, and see if we can draw any conclusions from it. We need to actually check what we are espousing. Brian didn’t do that in his original post, The Growth Blog didn’t do it in their criticism, and I still haven’t done it in my response to their critique.

All I have done here is narrowed down the list of possible D1 Lacrosse Expansion variable set to seven different reasons, and provided a set of successful D1 lacrosse expansion schools that we can look at. I’m going to give The Growth Blog a day or two to do some number crunching before I try my hand at it, because based on their awesome name, this should be right up their alley. I’m really hoping they come up with an amazing set of data results.

Maybe that will finally end some of the rampant conjecture and arguments, and get back to predicting things using more than just feelings. If there is an older The Growth Blog post where this has been done, then I apologize. I looked through their site and couldn’t find anything specific to quantifying variables of D1 Expansion.

All in all, I want to thank both Brian and the guys at The Growth Blog for their passionate work on this subject. By continuing to push each other, we may actually be able to answer the question we’re arguing about right now! It’s all love, so thanks to all for their opinion and knowledge!