Conference realignment on the horizon?

Published 10:17 pm Monday, July 27, 2015

I have been through this more times than I want to think about.

EnrollmentslWhat am I talking about?

It is conference realignment, of course.

With Benton Harbor’s announcement that it is leaving the SMAC for a destination to be named later, I sense another shift in our area conferences.

Do not get me wrong. Benton Harbor’s desire to leave the SMAC and find a new home is warranted because the district is in free fall when it comes to enrollment.

But the Tigers heading to a new league somewhere down the road leaves the SMAC with an odd number of teams and its leadership wondering what will happen next.

I would be surprised if Benton Harbor ends up somewhere other than the BCS Athletic Conference, which is expanding to 15 teams this fall.

Since 16 is a nice even number, I would put my money on the Tigers joining that conference in another year.

So where does that leave the SMAC?

There are some out there who believe that Niles could be the odd team out if the league decides to trim down to 10 teams.

Where would the Vikings go?

I would like to see them join the Wolverine Conference, but since that league is a solid 10 teams, Niles would have to bring a dance partner and I am not sure Benton Harbor would be the right fit due to the dwindling numbers and the fact that the Tigers do not field all the teams needed to become a member.

I personally would love to see Niles in the Wolverine Conference because it would allow long-time football fans a chance to see the Vikings and Chieftains renew the rivalry.

I, along with many other football fans, was crushed when the two teams parted ways and the series was halted after more than 100 games.

Dowagiac and Niles play each other in many of the other sports, and recently, the two schools have met on the gridiron at the sub-varsity level.

Niles also plays Edwardsburg in a lot of sports and would be a perfect fit against the likes of Sturgis, Three Rivers and Vicksburg, who along with Dowagiac and Edwardsburg, now make up the South Division of the Wolverine Conference.

Only time will tell how this will all shake out.

But one thing is for sure, as long as the Michigan High School Football Coaches Association and the Michigan High School Athletic Association do not figure out how to get everyone in the football playoffs, conference shifts will continue.


Scott Novak is sports editor for Leader Publications. He can be reached at or by calling 687-7702.