Mike Zoller

For the past two weeks, the Miami University ice hockey team has been the laughingstock of the college ice hockey world.

The critics got their first shot when the RedHawks were only able to salvage one point against the Wolverines; then, just as it seemed the ‘Hawks were over that disappointing weekend, they got swept by meager Ferris State University.

USCHO.com had a field day on its Web site as the media and fans from around the country alike took shots at the RedHawks, saying their weak non-conference schedule, coupled with playing in the meager CCHA, gave Miami a smooth road to the No. 1 ranking in the country.

Perhaps for next season, the ice hockey team should look at its fellow RedHawk teams and make some changes to their schedule.

Look at men’s basketball, football and baseball. Charlie Coles, Shane Montgomery and Dan Simonds all do what hockey has failed to do so far-schedule a tough non-conference schedule.

Look at the football team’s opponents this season. They took on the likes of Vanderbilt University, the University of Minnesota and the University of Cincinnati. No big name teams this season, but still some stiff competition.

Coles put his basketball squad against the likes of No. 10 Xavier University, the formerly ranked University of Southern California, No. 4 Kansas University and theUniversity of Illinois.

Up for the RedHawks on the baseball diamond are No. 9 Arizona State University, No. 7 Oregon State University, No. 3 Vanderbilt University and the No. 19 University ofLouisiana-Lafayette.

The RedHawks take on these national powerhouses to get their name out there. They might not win, but they got experience and national recognition for taking on these schools.

Now look at hockey’s non-conference schedule-the University of Vermont, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Canisius College and St. Cloud State University. Pretty weak when you consider that only St. Cloud State is in the nation’s top 20 teams, currently being ranked No. 16.

Now Michigan’s non-conference schedule-Boston University, Boston College, the University of Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan Tech and Providence College. All but Boston, Minnesota and Michigan Tech are in the top 20, but Boston and Minnesota are nipping their way back into the rankings.

Both Miami and Michigan play in the CCHA where they take on nationally ranked Michigan State University and the University of Notre Dame. And both get to beat up on teams like the Ohio State University, Lake Superior State University and Western Michigan University. Yet before getting to the scrub teams, their paths areextremely different.

I can’t be certain that a tougher non-conference schedule would have given Miami a win or two over Michigan. But right now I can tell you that the nation fears Michigan. They are No. 1 in the country almost unanimously and no one is talking about them being a weak No. 1 team.

If Miami wants to experience this luxury, they need to start playing outside their comfort zone and take on some of the nation’s best teams like Wisconsin, the University of Denver and the University of North Dakota. The challenges are out there, we need the RedHawks to take them.