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Commentary: Expansion

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ACC Picks Miami and Virginia Tech: 
 
 

The ACC, after fumbling and bumbling expansion scenes, settled on the lucky number 11.  After weeks of wrangling, political arm twisting, deceit, mandates, law suits, threats, and accusations, the ACC voted (tuesday evening) to offer the University of Miami and Virginia Tech into the fold.
 
In a strange way, these two universities seem to offer just what the ACC was looking for:  dominant football programs.  The ACC, strong on the hardwood but historically weak on the gridiron, actually made offers to the top two football schools in the mix (Syracuse and Boston College being the other two players).
 
Syracuse, and to a lesser degree Boston College, seemed like sure bets just a couple of days ago to receive invites.  Syracuse is a traditional basketball power and has enjoyed a moderate amount of success on the football field.  At the same time, Syracuse offered the ACC a chance to expand to the northeastern market.  Boston College offered a quality football program, a better basketball program than Virginia Tech, and the Boston television market. 
 
To top it all off, Miami really wanted both of these schools to join them in a move to the ACC from the Big East. 
 
What happened?
 
7 votes were needed to expand.  Florida State, Georgia Tech, Maryland, Clemson, North Carolina State, and Wake Forest were voting for expansion from the get-go.
 
Political arm twisting prohibited UVA from voting for any expansion that excluded Virginia Tech.  Duke and North Carolina, oblivious to the obvious fact that expansion was going to occur, voted only for Miami to be accepted. 
 
A fold by either North Carolina or Syracuse would have permitted the original three (Syracuse, Boston College, and Miami) to gain invites.  Their holding firm sealed the fate of the Orangemen and the Eagles.
 
NC State, after voting in Miami and Virginia Tech, suddenly lost what little credibility it had by voting against a 12th team.
 
So, what does the ACC have now?  Sure, they have upgraded their football conference.  They have moved their television audience into south Florida and the D.C. area.  They may or may not have made the conference more attractive for television rights.
 
But, they have added a school (Virginia Tech) that has gone only 7-7 in the Big East the last two years.  This same school puts on the court a club that bears absolutely no resemblance to ACC basketball.
 
The move to 11 puzzles me.  An end of season conference championship game (that could conceivably add 10-12 million dollars to league coffers) is not in the making.  12 is the magic number.  I do understand that taking Virginia Tech moves the recent Big East lawsuit to federal court, but at what cost? 
 
The ACC splits the pie eleven ways now, instead of nine.  That is LESS revenue to each member school (rocket scientists need not apply).
 
The Big East, as a BCS conference, is sure to fade away with the departures of the top 2 football schools in the conference. 

What Next?

Well, first of all, it is not clear if Miami will accept the ACC offer without Syracuse and Boston College.  If they do not, the ACC bought themselves a team that was not really wanted.  They bought a team that will produce in football only.  They bought a team that "muscled" their way into the conference (back-stabbed if you are a BE member fan). 
 
A 10 team league (without a conference championship game) translates to less money for member schools.
 
If the expansion does go as planned, a domino effect will occur.
 
The Big East, in a last ditch effort to keep its' BCS bid, will likely add ECU and Louisville into the mix.  Southern Miss is being talked about.  There is even talk of a merger with the Mountain West Conference.  C-USA will look to get into the action. 
 
The ACC, at some time, will look to add a 12th member.  Pitt is being considered (tho more than likely will be headed to the Big 10).  Notre Dame and Penn State will be courted (and both will say "no").  Syracuse is still on the list.  Heck, I even read Division III Tulane's name being thrown around the message boards (some people should never post).
 
No one (and least of all ACC and Big East reps) knows what to expect next.  This fiasco is not played out.  There are many surprises to unfold.  Many message boards to exceed bandwith.  Many a message board guru will take it on the chin.  Many a fan's emotions will rise and fall to the latest reports. 
 
The two things I can promise you are: 
(1) The BE will continue to be led in a leaderless, and near clueless fashion.
(2) The ACC members, at some point and time, are going to look at this as an opportunity gone bad.  And wish...that they could have the opportunity to cast their lot in a different way.

What does it mean to the SEC?

At this point, it means nothing.  The SEC is a very stable and lucrative conference.  After witnessing this botched attemp at expansion by the ACC, the SEC should feel very good about their position.
 
Sure, the ACC becomes a stronger football conference.  But, that only means that the VT's, FSU's, and UM's of the football world will end the season with more losses.
 
VT, FSU, and Um are about to find out a little of what SEC teams know plenty about.  If you play in a stronger conference, you will get more losses.  More losses means lower rankings.  Lower rankings mean fewer BCS Bowl bids.  In any given year, prior to ACC merger, no fewer than 3 of the ACC elite would get BCS bids.  That number is now cut to two.
 
Presently, Arkansas is the only name being thrown around that would warrent attention.  If Missouri were added to the Big 10, or if Colorado were added to the Pac 10, it would seem logical that Arkansas would get serious attention from the Big 12.
 
Fans and posters say "thanks, but no thanks". 
 
I am not so sure.
 
A natural rivalry exists between members of the now defunct SWC.  Arkansas would love to get a yearly shot at Texas and Texas A&M.  Arkansas recruits heavily in Texas.  i would suspect that, if presented, Arkansas would take a good look at joining the Big 12.
 
So, who to replace the Pigs if this occurs?
 
That is the topic of another commentary.
 
 

comments? e-mail me here @: mike@secsportssmack.com

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