Monday, November 24, 2014
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One-on-one with CAA commissioner Tom Yeager

Life is pretty good for the Colonial Athletic Association these days.

One-on-one with CAA commissioner Tom Yeager

Life is pretty good for the Colonial Athletic Association these days.

After three wins over I-A football teams in Week 1, New Hampshire routed defending MAC runners-up Ball State and James Madison took Maryland to overtime in College Park before losing by a field goal.

(The latter of which wasn't so surprising, but you get the point.)

If anyone deserves credit for the CAA's success, it's conference commisioner Tom Yeager. He was in Newark on Saturday for the Richmond-Delaware game, and I caught up with him for a few minutes to get his thoughts on football and other matters.

Q. Talk about what the CAA has done to establish itself as perhaps the best conference in the Football Championship Subdivision.

A. Well, it starts, obviously, with the teams winning games. They've scheduled smartly; a number of the institutions have continued to provide additional support for their football programs; we've had a great partnership with the folks at Comcast in television that's attractive to recruits. And again, it starts on the 12 individual campuses, and collectively you get to tell a story of the best and the brightest performances on any given weekend.

Q. What was it like for you watching Villanova and Richmond and William and Mary beat I-A teams, and Massachusetts run Kansas State close?

A. It was really a terrific outcome. You go into those games hoping to be competitive and maybe you can steal one, but when you've got three in one weekend, that was beyond anybody's expectations. It goes to show you the caliber of players. I was on the field for a couple of those games beforehand, and the athletes look an awful lot alike in those places.

It's a tribute to the coaching and the kids that come in that they get an opportunity, because throughout their recruitment, they've generally been told that they're a little too small or a little too slow. So when they get a chance to go out and play these guys, it's a great opportunity for them. And it's so much sweeter when there can be a little bit of success with it.

Q. Do you worry that there might be a little bit of pushback from the I-A schools in terms of playing these games?

No, I don't think so. Some of the schedules are done three and four years in advance, so memory is short on some of those. I think, looking at some of the cases, they'll point to mistakes they made rather then believing they really got beat.  But no, I think the schools have scheduled smartly with the teams they play. So there are good, competitive games that are of interest to the fans. All three games last week were kind of neighborhood, or very close regional games that were attractive.

Q. As the head of the conference, what's the balance between football and basketball for you?

A. Well, between now and December, we're talking football. Basketball season starts in mid-November as the [football] playoffs are ramping up - that's the overlap. We're actually now seasons ahead. Next week, we're going to start doing the basketball television schedule, getting basketball ready. Once you get in-season, all the hard work is basically running the way it should. So it's a busy, hectic time.

Q. You have in Villanova a school that plays Big East basketball and CAA football. What's it like having them in the conference?

A. It's a great brand name in Villanova. They've got a football program that's playing at the right level and being very successful. When they can drive down the road and play Delaware or go up to Hofstra - the schools that they're playing with the commitment they're prepared to make in football, it's really a great marriage. I think they've found that level sustainable for their institution and something they want to continue to do. We hope to grow with them as much as we can.

Jonathan Tannenwald Philly.com
About this blog
Soft Pretzel Logic is Philly.com's college sports blog, with a primary focus on the University of Pennsylvania. You'll also see coverage of the Big 5, other major college sports events in the region, and the annual Penn Relays track and field meet.

Reach Jonathan at jtannenwald@phillynews.com or 215-854-2330.

Jonathan Tannenwald Philly.com
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