Your last point as well as the other comments made on this point well taken. I will assure you that the M2 Commissioner, the M2 Regional Commissioner, and I have had several conversations regarding west scheduling, the rankings, ACHA support of the 3 annual showcases (and possibly adding more), and the changing landscape of the west as top teams from each ACHA division move up. BtW, I would be remiss if I did not mention that John Eccles is a class act - he has my respect as well as the Commissioner's. He has always been a tremendous advocate for the M2 West, and brings many of these issues to our attention well before they are posted on this blog. He fights equally hard for all the teams in his region and articulates the challenges of ACHA hockey in the western states extremely well.
Williston State has everyone's attention as they entered the ACHA. They are the first of the NCAA JuCo's to join the ACHA with more to follow: Dakota, Erie, and Hudson Valley have committed to the ACHA next year. The question is where do these teams fit within the ACHA structure, given organization, financial support from their universities, talent on the ice, and geography. Williston has been a tremendous example of the team we might expect in this regard.
The other aspect of your point is the computer rankings. Just as JuCo teams are new the ACHA, the M2 computer ranking is also new to M2 this season. And while we have had relative long term success with M1 in this area, we have experimented with a completely different algorithm for M2. We have identified small significant tweaks that needed to be altered going forward - two with the recording of forfeits and one regarding the AGD.
While I agree completely with the inclusion of ALL top west teams in these showcase tournaments (Jay and I are driving to Miami this weekend where many of the top teams from the Central, SE, and NE will be competing), there are several other issues that might be masked by this posting.
Our vision for the future of the ACHA in a perfect world is to align the teams into their respective divisions based on the competitive talent on the ice, and organization within their institutions. Given the current system of by-laws, members are nearly free to choose where they would like to compete. However, we have made strides in this area in the past two seasons by communicating the benefits, standardizing the rule sets between divisions to remove barriers or add perks (we still have a long way to go here), and finding creative incentives/disincentives to the teams/conferences we believe should move up or down.
The West, to be honest, has taken the lead on this objective: ASU and Utah (M2 West #1 & #2) moving to M1, and Met State and CSU (M3 Pacific #1 and #2) moving to M2. If all regions worked under this model, the ACHA would clearly exhibit mvore parity within the divisions in a very short period of time. Unfortunately, with the West leading in this effort, creates a situation in the near term where the West will be relatively weak wrt the remainder of their divisions as pointed out by sbk.
All that I ask is to give us some time, exhibit some patience, and continue to provide us your feedback. Our goal is to incentivize teams to move to their "appropriate division". We also have to remove road blocks in our policies that prevent teams that desire to move, but cannot. We have some very creative ideas that we will move forward with in Naples this year to assist to this end, most of which were suggested by other members (one of which just popped by b-man).
One last note. Anyone that has been associated with the ACHA for any period of time, is keenly aware that the landscape changes from year to year. Teams come and go (mostly joining over the past decade or so, which is a good problem to have), coaches in the ACHA have an average life span of three years, and can be the very life blood of the organization, and policies change. There are more than 480 members with at least that many opinions and all looking out for the best interest of their teams. We will make mistakes, missteps and have errors in judgment b/c I'm not one to shy away from experimenting ("He who does not risk cannot win" - John Paul Jones). One team might be aggrieved for the greater good of the ACHA (although I assure you that when/if this occurs, we will make every attempt to make good with that team in other means). And we might not be able to solve every issue within a season, or certainly not immediately. However, the leadership team and coaches out west are solid - these issues as well as several other issues unique to the West/Pacific will be addressed going forward.
As always, thanks for your comments - I learn something with every posting!