Oral Roberts University is leaving the Summit League to join the Southland Conference. It makes sense. The Southland, with most of its teams in Louisiana and Texas, is much more in ORU's Oklahoma backyard than the Summit.
ORU has given the Summit League some cred with its baseball and womens basketball programs. But you get the feeling that the Golden Eagles have always flown a little too far South for fans in the Dakotas. It is great fun to watch Kevi Luper play at Frost Arena in Brookings, but ORU just doesn't turn the Jackrabbit cranks the way NDSU or USD does.
So ORU will go to the Southland in 2012-13 and Southern Utah will leave after this year for the Big Sky and the Summit League will be down to nine teams.
Nebraska-Omaha will join the Summit next year giving the league another old NCC attraction. Ahhhh, the old North Central Conference. For me and my kind of peeps, the NCC was about as perfect a league as you could put together. If you throw out Northern Colorado, every other trip and game was as good as the region could provide. Mankato, St. Cloud, UND, NDSU, Omaha, USD, SDSU, Augustana and even Morningside all made you feel like you had some skin in the game every night out.
OK, I know it's gone. Let it go. In its stead, the Summit League has been a suitable, semi-satisfying substitute. Its Interstate-29 backbone (NDSU, SDSU, USD, UNO, UMKC) gives Dakota fans some meat the chew on. Is it too late for UND to come back? They could be the 10th team in the Summit and... wait... we've been through this. No room for the football team in the Missouri Valley. Can we trade UND for Missouri State? Or can we lure Northern Iowa's basketball teams out of the Missouri Valley and into the Summit? Or just steal Creighton and keep the I-29 theme going? Whatever the case, the Summit will most likely want and need to add a 10th school. And that is hard to do when you are dealing with a league that doesn't have football (Summit) and a league that is one-sport-only (Missouri Valley Football Conference).
So, Oral Roberts it was nice knowing you. You will be like the co-worker who did a good job and we liked but never really got to know very well and now you have a better offer closer to where your wife's family lives. We will miss you. But if we can fill your position with someone who is just as fun and works just as hard and grew up around here... then we will be OK.