Good afternoon, and thanks for your continued support of Extra Points. Let's pretend you're getting today's newsletter a few hours later because I'm trying to do testing on publishing times, and not because half my house has the stomach flu. The important thing is that I did this on purpose.
Earlier this month, Coastal Carolina president Michael Benson published an editorial in the Deseret News, arguing that a school's academic profile, particularly if they hold membership in the prestigious Association of American Universities (AAU), may be just as valuable in conference realignment discussions as their athletic profile.
On one level, everything about this editorial appeared strange. Why is the president of a regional university in South Carolina (and before that, a regional university in Kentucky), writing an editorial for a newspaper in Utah about conference realignment in a completely different part of the country?
Of course, it isn't that strange. Dr. Benson may be at Coastal now, but he's a BYU graduate, and started his university administrative career in Utah. He just wrote a book about a founding member of the AAU, and there may not be a fan base more hypersensitive to the concept of 'institutional fit' than BYU fans. If the Deseret News wanted an expert opinion, well, Dr. Benson would be a natural fit.
I think Dr. Benson is probably overstating his case a bit here about the AAU specifically, at least when it comes to conferences outside the Big Ten and Pac-12. But the larger point he raises here, about the importance of 'institutional fit', is one that I think all fans, and honestly more sportswriters, should consider.
Institutional fit absolutely matters. Let's talk about what that actually means....because it doesn't mean the same thing for every conference.