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´╗┐CAA football in transition with departures

Stony Brook and Albany both made the FCS playoffs a year ago, Stony Brook as a football only member of the Big South Conference, and Albany as a football only member of the Northeast Conference.

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Prentice Gill of Old Dominion makes this second quarter touchdown catch (Rob Ostermaier, Daily Press )BALTIMORE Speculation and possibility, staples of preseason media gatherings, were in even greater supply Wednesday at the Colonial Athletic Association's annual July football bash.

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consecutive FCS playoff appearances, is one of four football only members of Nike Blazer Low Gt Supreme

The questions what do you think? what might happen? pertained not only to the upcoming football season, but also to a conference about to undergo significant change.

"I think it's still the best league in the country," New Hampshire coach Sean McDonnell said, "and I've got enough confidence that people want to be part of that, whoever that is. I'm not privy to everything that's going on, but there are teams out there, I think, that want to be a part of what we do and how we do it."

Even with the departures of ODU, Georgia State and perhaps Rhode Island, four of the five CAA teams that made the FCS playoffs last year remain committed to the league. Four traditional conference programs have won national championships within the past decade, and William and Mary twice has reached the semifinals.

"I think we've got a great league," Laycock said. "I think the core is still fine. We've had some change, but the teams that we've played year in and year out, whether it's Nike Dunk High Sb Black Box JMU, Richmond, Delaware, Villanova, New Hampshire, they're all still there. I don't know who's going to come in and what's going to transpire, but the league is still extremely competitive. I feel like the league's in good shape, I really do. I don't have any concerns in that area."

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Indeed, Yeager called conference expansion "a delicate balance."

New Hampshire, which has made eight Nike Dunk Premium

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The eight remaining CAA football schools figure to welcome at least one new member for 2013, for a conference that its coaches still believe is the best, top to bottom, in the Football Championship Subdivision. Keeler responded when asked if he thinks the CAA remains the nation's best. "Even with the loss of Georgia State and Old Dominion, I mean, Georgia State hasn't won a playoff game, and Old Dominion's won one playoff game. We're disappointed they're leaving, but they weren't really part of this tradition or history anyway. I think the conference is going to be in great shape. I know I've worked very hard with some of the other coaches to keep this thing together."

Keeler said. "There's not enough money to do that. So the north has to be addressed. And if we're going to keep some things together in the north, then I think the conference stays together. But for us to hop on five charter (flights) a year is not going to make economic sense. It's not going to work for New Hampshire or Maine, either. I think the key is to solidify what we want to do in the north and the whole conference stays together."

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Departures and program shutdowns at Hofstra and Northeastern have left Maine and New Hampshire as northern outliers. Speculation has centered on Stony Brook and Albany as potential football only members, to bring in quality programs and to help balance geographically the mid Atlantic based league.

"Football at this level is not the huge revenue driver that you see in the big conferences," he said. "What you want to do is have opponents that excite the players and excite fans. You want rivalries. But more important, you want somebody who's ready to play at this level. You don't want to just go find somebody with 70 football helmets."

"You can't force Maine, you can't force New Hampshire to hop on planes and travel all around the world in I AA football," Nike Foamposite Black Fruity Pebbles

Reports have said that the College of Charleston has taken the first steps toward leaving the Southern Conference and joining the CAA. But the Cougars don't play football.

Old Dominion is on the way out the door, to the Football Bowl Subdivision. Georgia State's first season of CAA football will be its last, as it goes the FBS route, as well. Rhode Island has announced that it plans to downgrade to the Northeast Conference.

Commissioner Tom Yeager would not address the specifics of conference expansion, except to say that it's likely to be settled in the coming weeks. He is working on two fronts: full membership, with a heavy emphasis on basketball, and football.

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the CAA, along with Richmond, Maine, Villanova and departing Rhode Island.

The CAA needs at least nine football members in order to satisfy the coaches' and athletic directors' desire for an eight game conference schedule.

"I think geography should play into it, but I don't think it should override the other aspects," William and Mary coach Jimmye Laycock said. "That's why I have confidence in Tom that he'll look at the whole picture before they decide to vote on anybody. I'm sure he's looking at the school, the commitment, the program, things of that nature. I would imagine that geography would play a role, but I think he's looking at what schools are the right fit."

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