Sometime in the next couple weeks, my second-in-command in the sports department, Christopher Heimerman, will unveil a weekly column focusing on fantasy baseball.
I am sure it’s going to be filled with all the metrics and wind patterns needed to survive a fantasy league.
One of the things he likely won’t do is seek my fantasy expertise. At one point, I was at best a conscientious fantasy football player, but the last 2 years my free internet teams have been drafted, and I haven’t revisited them the rest of the season. I don’t even know where I finished last season – probably last.
With all that established, I am going to attempt a fantasy excursion here.
This is my trip into fantasy prep conference land.
This journey is spurred by Streator’s desertion of the NIB-12, which was reported earlier this week.
The Bulldogs join Dixon in the exodus from the conference that formed a few years ago from the remnants of the NCIC Reagan and the Western Sun.
That leaves Sterling, the school with the largest enrollment in the Sauk Valley, in a conference with no other teams from the area.
I don’t like that, and I don’t think it’s a good thing for sports in the area.
If I had free reign to forge a new conference, here’s the teams I would form together. (By the way, I think I’d adopt the old NCIC name, for tradition’s sake).
On one half of the conference, I would have Sterling, Dixon, Rock Falls, Rochelle, Geneseo and Mendota.
All six of these schools currently play in 3A in four-class sports. In three-class sports, Rock Falls and Mendota would be 1A, with the rest competing in 2A.
I think in almost every sport, the smaller schools like Rock Falls and Mendota would be able to compete and – quite often – beat the bigger schools in this league.
Football, as Sterling Athletic Director Greg King told our Brian Weidman, is the sport that drives many conference changes. All six of these schools fall in the 4A and 5A classes.
It’s no secret that Dixon and Rock Falls have struggled on the gridiron. Mendota struggled last season, but is coming off a good stretch during which it has competed well against teams like Geneseo.
The thing about the Dukes and Rockets is, if they continue playing as they have the majority of the last decade, then they won’t get many more wins in the their new conference – the Big Northern West (Dixon joins in 2014) – than they would in this one.
The reality of sports is that someone is going to lose. It doesn’t matter who’s in the conference, there is going to be someone in last who probably doesn’t like it.
I like location of all six of these schools, with Dixon, Rock Falls and Sterling forming the geographic heart. The proximity will also lead to bigger crowds and better atmospheres.
I’d also have a southeast division of the conference that includes Ottawa, LaSalle-Peru, Morris, Streator, Sandwich and Plano.
Again, you have a geographic heart with Ottawa, LP, Streator, Morris.
The enrollment range is greater on that side, but I don’t think it has the same effect as when teams from the current NIB-12 West try to match up with some clubs from NIB-12 East.
I’d have two crossover games in football between the divisions, with each school having to schedule two nonconference games.
In other sports, I could be flexible. I always liked the old NCIC, where teams played every team in the conference once, but I can live with divisions with home-and-away games between each school.
Where did I get the idea for these groupings? Well, as I looked at regionals during winter and fall sports, these were the teams that tended to get put together.
I guess my thought was, if they are close enough enrollment-wise to play in the same class and logically grouped together for regionals, doesn’t it make sense for them to be associated as a conference?
That being said, I know it’s not going to happen.
Like I said, this a fantasy, and fantasies don’t account for all the realities of the world.
Dan’s fantasy conference