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Post subject: Magnolia League  PostPosted: Mar 30, 2017 - 12:07 PM

Joined: Feb 23, 2015
Posts: 17

Status: Offline
A great "what if" scenario, the genesis of the Magnolia Conference came in 1948, when Yale, frustrated by a 35-0 loss to Vanderbilt in football, refused to play the Commodores any more. The Vanderbilt chancellor, annoyed by this, convened a meeting of like-minded private Southern schools in an attempt to form a "Southern Ivy League" where academic excellence would not be secondary to athletic pursuits.

Talks continued off and on throughout the 1950s, but a big push occured in 1963 when Tulane, sick of being cannon fodder in the SEC against schools with, shall we say, less rigorous admissions standards, sought out Vanderbilt, Duke, Rice and Southern Methodist about the formation of a so-called "Magnolia League."

In real life, it didn't get off the ground. Duke, who became a charter member of the ACC ten years previous, didn't want to give up its rivalry with North Carolina (and with good reason!). And Rice and SMU didn't want to leave the Southwest Conference and say goodbye to revenue from the Cotton Bowl.

But what if...

What if Duke was able to be persuaded by allowing Carolina into the Magnolia League as well? While UNC is a public university, it has high admission standards and research component, and is rigorous academically.

What if Rice and SMU were made to listen to reason? Sure, they got some revenue from the Cotton Bowl, but not as much as they would have if they actually played in the game. And with Texas and Texas A&M in the SWC, the chances of the Owls and Mustangs playing in the Cotton Bowl were slim.

So on July 1, 1962, the chancellors of Tulane, Vanderbilt, Duke, North Carolina, Rice and Southern Methodist announced they would be withdrawing from the SEC, ACC and SWC with immediate effect to form a new all-sport conference, the Magnolia League. It would be a Southern counterweight to the Ivy League, where, in the words of Tulane president Herbert Longenecker, schools could "maintain high-end Division I budgets and schedules, while avoiding some of the crasser extremes of the big business of college sports."

In order to get the conference to a more desirable eight members, the Magnolia Leagueextended invitations to Southern Conference members Davidson and Furman, who accepted. Both schools fit the Magnolia Conference footprint, were private Southern schools with high academic standards, and, importantly, had Division I football programs.

I will be playing out the Magnolia League basketball seasons using the Final Score College Basketball books for the appropriate season, starting with 1962-63. I will only play out the conference schedule, conference tournament, and NCAA Tournament.

I will work on the assumption that the Magnolia League will get an automatic bid, and remove what I feel is the worst independent, at-large team from the field. If a Magnolia school actually made the tournament as the ACC, SEC, SWC or Southern champ (which, let's face it, really only will apply to Carolina, Duke or Davidson), then that spot will go to the next-placed team in real life, according to

Yes, there will be a Magnolia League post-season tournament. While it seems anathema to the aims of the League, I'm working on the assumption that the ex-Southern Conference schools (Carolina, Duke, Davidson and Furman) would insist upon it as a condition of their participation.

The next post will go over the 1963 Magnolia League regular season.
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