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Knowing what we know now, imagine if we could start the school year over again.
Imagine knowing every school's intentions for finding a happy conference home. No need for private conversations or bombshell decisions.
Complete transparency from jump street. What would the area's conference landscape look like?
Throughout this school year we've examined the immense conference changes fluidly affecting the bulk of DuPage County's high schools. With the school year ending we look ahead to Lake Park and West Chicago changing leagues in August, and Glenbard East, IC Catholic Prep and Wheaton Academy moving in 2014-15.
West Aurora, Aurora Central, Chicago Christian, Guerin, St. Edward and Walther Lutheran soon will be on the move as well, with others no doubt contemplating a shift.
What's happening is basically what we feared most. Piecemeal changes made in the moment, creating imperfect situations everywhere you look. The DuPage Valley Conference, Metro Suburban Conference, Suburban Christian Conference and the Upstate Eight Conference will look dramatically different in the coming years, and not necessarily for the better.
Before we ride off into the summer, let's evaluate the movement within each of the four key conferences.
DuPage Valley Conference:
Next school year West Chicago moves to the UEC, basically in exchange for Lake Park. Glenbard East and West Aurora will enter their final year in the DVC before joining the UEC.
With no replacements on the horizon, that'll leave the DVC with six remaining schools. Because most of these changes are being made with football in mind, it'd be tough to imagine anyone wanting to join a DVC field with Glenbard North, Lake Park, Naperville Central, Naperville North, Wheaton North and Wheaton Warrenville South.
According to WW South principal David Claypool, the president of the DVC Board of Control, the DVC contacted surrounding high schools to gauge interest in joining the league. The deadline to respond passed with no schools expressing interest.
"At this point we will simply wait to see if area schools give it further thought and reach out to us to express interest," Claypool wrote in an email.
Regardless of how everything went down, what if the timing were different? The DVC was placed in a difficult situation when Glenbard East and West Aurora decided to leave months after West Chicago announced its departure.
If all three schools announced their departure at the same time, perhaps the DVC would have responded differently. Instead of seeking one replacement (Lake Park), the league may have tried to attract three or more schools.
Again, the piecemeal movement created a less than ideal situation.
Metro Suburban Conference:
Suddenly a major player in the area, the MSC pulled a shocker earlier this month by adding seven SCC members for the 2014-15 school year to join its existing group of seven schools.
It's an interesting mix of public and private. Fenton, Glenbard South, Elmwood Park, Ridgewood and Riverside-Brookfield combine with Illiana Christian, Timothy Christian and the seven SCC schools mentioned above to form two divisions.
The MSC actually thought it was expanding early this school year when West Chicago announced it was joining. But when West Chicago then announced it was pursuing an opportunity in the UEC, the MSC rescinded its invitation.
Now that the MSC is a more viable option because of the private school additions, would West Chicago in hindsight find the MSC more attractive?
We'll never know, but you can't help but wonder what might have occurred if the private school interest emerged at the same time West Chicago was considering the MSC.
Suburban Christian Conference:
One of the area's more stable conferences until IC Catholic Prep, Wheaton Academy, Aurora Central, Chicago Christian, Guerin, St. Edward and Walther Lutheran shocked everyone — especially the remaining SCC members — by announcing earlier this month their joint move to the MSC.
You don't have to be a genius to realize this was also a football-driven decision. Left behind were Montini, St. Francis, Aurora Christian, Marmion and Marian Central Catholic: winners of a combined 12 state football titles.
The five remaining SCC schools apparently had no idea about the departures until the decision already had been made. Now they're left to pick up the pieces.
"If we can keep the SCC together with a couple more schools, we'll be a stronger conference," said Montini athletic director Bob Landi.
With five schools the SCC no longer has enough football teams for its champion to qualify for an automatic playoff berth. Whether the SCC attracts new members or the five schools join a different conference, something needs to happen.
Landi confirmed there was a meeting last week with the East Suburban Catholic Conference and a meeting this week with the Chicago Catholic League. Tuesday the principals of the five remaining SCC schools will meet to discuss the future possibilities.
"I'm encouraged by the discussions we've had," Landi said. "Our first thought process is having the SCC survive, but we're looking at all options."
Upstate Eight Conference:
In August West Chicago takes Lake Park's place in the UEC Valley Division. When Glenbard East and West Aurora arrive for the 2014-15 school year, it's anticipated they'll join the Valley and West Chicago will shift to the River Division.
Done deal? Maybe not.
The UEC has become so large — 16 schools when Glenbard East and West Aurora come aboard — it leaves more schools to find greener pastures elsewhere. You can bet the DVC is thinking its league might be greener for some.
There's common thought out there that the District 204 schools — Neuqua Valley, Waubonsie Valley and Metea Valley — might be the best candidates to leave the UEC for the DVC. Don't be too sure of that.
Imagine Batavia, Geneva, St. Charles East and St. Charles North leaving the UEC and making the DVC a 10-school conference. They'd be the ideal size to fit in with the Wheaton schools, and competitively they'd match up in just about everything.
Granted, football would be a bear. But joining the DVC also would help the Tri-City schools schedule conference games at every level it desires. That's something that isn't always possible against the U-46 schools in the UEC River Division.
Would the Tri-City schools be interested? Probably not. If there were interest, Claypool and the DVC likely would have heard by now.
The end game:
So what does all this mean moving forward?
Heading into the 2013-14 school year the conference to watch is the SCC. There's bound to be some bad feelings between the five schools left behind and the seven departing, which could make for some interesting competition.
Will the five remaining schools stay together and attract others, or will they join the ESCC or the CCL? That's the big question heading into next school year.
Beyond that, I'm not making any predictions. Not after all the wild stuff that happened in 2012-13.
Without a cohesive vision for the entire area, I simply expect the piecemeal changes to continue for the foreseeable future.
Unless everyone wants to sit down this summer and sort it all out once and for all.
Anyone up for that? No?
Didn't think so.
Follow Kevin on Twitter @kevin_schmit