Throughout the whole college football expansion saga of the last 15 months, there have been a lot of easy targets and a lot of misplaced rage. For all the fussing over Baylor threatening to sue Texas A&M for leaving for the $EC, its actions served to find some vestige of loyalty among the remaining members of the Big 12, rallying them to something, even if that something was just a vague approximation of a sustainable conference. I don’t think in my heart that Oklahoma was necessarily a villain either, as they only did what they saw as appropriate given the recalcitrant stance that Texas was taking regarding its unbalanced share of conference revenue. The media has had a lot of fun making new and different bad guys at each stage, and while there is surely greed at the heart of all of the conference expansion hype, it is driven primarily by personality clashes, no money.
Nebraska, Texas A&M, and Colorado haven’t left the Big 12 just because of the conference revenue-sharing policy, but because of the arrogance that Texas seemed to have with regards to the rest of the conference members. Colorado didn’t want Texas in the PAC-X regardless of whether the Longhorn Network could be folded into the regional network or not- they simply didn’t want to have to deal with them. Likewise, Nebraska had greener pastures in the Big Ten bit likely wouldn’t have gone last year if there wasn’t a lingering sense of resentment over the way Texas seemed to get its way in every conference policy. A&M didn’t like being treated like a second tier team in Texas, so they chose to be the new shiny toy in the SEC.
Out on the coast, the Big East has been a dysfunctional mess ever since its inception, exacerbated by the multi-tiered football/all other sports structure of the conference. The idea that Syracuse and Pitt would want to escape that for the stability of the ACC shouldn’t be a surprise- and that tiered system will be a huge challenge for the Big East in future expansion efforts. Going from 8-10 or 12 teams isn’t too hard for the Big East if they are willing to be “flexible” geographically, but when you are adding to a 16 team basketball conference, you have much bigger problems to deal with. The Big Ten, for its part, has solidified itself with some of the strongest brands in college football and has no need to go out and grab a small fry just for the sake of having it. When splitting the revenue of Michigan, Penn State, Ohio State, Nebraska, etc among 12 teams, that is a net win for the teams. Add in a Rutgers or Syracuse-level team and split it 13 or 14 ways, that is a net loss for the conference. However, the Big Ten had so many rumors flying around last year about who might or might not join, the entire circus put the conference in an awful light.
In fact, there is only one conference who appears to have handled things correctly. The Atlantic Coast Conference. At no point did ACC Commissioner John Swofford get his name in the news or the conference connected with a dozen different schools. The conference quietly bided its time all through last year’s flurry of activity, not acting until it felt it absolutely had to. There were no leaks in the administration of the conference, and no one saw the additions of Syracuse and Pitt coming until the moment before it was agreed to. For all the sound and fury of the Big 12, Big Ten, PAC-10/12/X, Big East, and SEC, the ACC was content to stay out of the headlines and take teams that made sense financially and geographically. Rather than reach out of their geographic area a la the Big East they moved to consolidate their hold over markets already in their expanded northern region, picking up teams in Pennsylvania and New York. Not only will the map of conference territory not have to change, the logo won’t have any changes save for a couple more white dots.
Following that, the conference raised the buy-out price to $20 million for any school hoping to leave. Virginia Tech was never any real threat to leave the ACC for the SEC not because of any perceived increase in money, but because at the end of the day it is about personalities. The ACC has stable, productive leadership that has had a clear vision for conference expansion since the early 2000s. I have heard that a President’s best Athletic Director is the one who never has to bring messy issues to his or her desk. In that case, the ACC is a President’s dream. And since this is in the end up to the Presidents, why go anywhere else?
You have the audacity to call the ACC a president’s dream. Have you heard about all of the problems that UNC is having with the NCAA. I would not say that this a dream season for the Tarheels. If anything, the ACC has managed to show the other conferences how to create a monopoly. All of their recent actions have been focused on self preservation and financial gain. The ACC has disturbed the conference landscape and many schools have now become sacrificial lambs. The ACC has successfully polarized the situation and many universities are on unfamiliar territory. Speaking of self-preservation, increasing the buy-out price to 20 million dollars was slick. This was an obvious move to prevent Clemson and Florida State from exiting the conference and another word for this action is holding schools hostage. Apparently the Presidents at Clemson and Florida State enjoy this controlling tactic. I guess they can forget their recent thoughts of joining the SEC conference.
The ideal and most cost effective choice for the ACC would be to ask UCF and ECU to join the conference. But then again, this is only what the football enthusiasts would prefer to see. Afterall, this would develop fantastic rivalries in Florida and North Carolina. UCF, FSU and Miami games would turn into a slugfest as would ECU against all of the other North Carolina teams. ECU has proven that they can compete with any team in the ACC. They have beaten Virginia Tech, UNC, NC State, Duke, Miami and Wake Forrest. Of couse, the ACC response to ECU is simply, “they could not compete in basketball.” My response to this ridiculous arguement is “does anyone remember how horrible the basketball programs at Florida State and Miami were when they became a part of the ACC. Conference officials in the ACC have selective memory loss.
So you say the ACC did it right. When are people going to wake up and realize they the joy of the game is currently being overridden by popularity and wealth. Geographically you stated that Syacuse and Pittsburg are a perfect fit. How many of their fans will travel to see a game in Florida. UCF and ECU are on the atlantic coast in the truish sence. But then again,if you admitted ECU and UCF into the ACC, the stadiums would be filled and this does not seem to be a variable in the equation.
The truth of the matter is, that if UCF and ECU were admitted into the ACC, their basketball programs would improve dramatically. Their facilites are growing leaps and bounds. Speaking on behalf of visability, UCF may be the largest university in the country as far as enrollment. That would go a long way would’nt you think?
I would love to think that this response could be read by all of the ACC conference officials and actually make a difference. ECU and UCF would love to be a part of a conference that has such a history. But in the end, money wins, and reality sets in at the end of the day. So, the ACC is smarter than the rest as the article conveys and for today I rest my case. After all, I guess bigger is better. By the way, did anyone see the score of the game between the Big East and ACC last evening. NC State gave the ACC excellent national exposure. To what you say? ECU and UCF would have won this game.
As for UNC, I am not sure the ACC had anything to do with their problems with the NCAA one way or another… so that’s not really related.
I am not sure where ECU and UCF came into the conversation, but a few things work against them- they don’t add any media markets, since the ACC already has Florida and the Carolinas but Pitt and Syracuse added New York and Pennsylvania to their areas. But down the road, I can see why they might seem viable.
I said they are going about their expansion the right way, I didn’t say that precluded them from adding other teams down the line. But when they add they will do so in a thoughtful, discreet manner rather than giving blogs and newspapers tons of rumors, innuendo, and name-calling beforehand.
You’re kind of an angry, wordy b*tch.
If you can not add anymore to the conversation, then please take the time to look up the word “obtuse”. You will find that this wordiness best describes you.
You might want to check into the academic standards of the ACC, because ECU and UCF neither come close to meeting them.
Also, I’ll give you that Miami’s basketball program was a joke when they joined the ACC but Florida State had won their conference tourney and been to the Sweet 16 the year before they joined.
Seems someone is likely just a bitter ECU alum.
I agree that this whole conference expansion arms race is ridiculous. It’s taking the fun out of college sports. We care about rooting against the rival team down the road and jawing with your neighbor who went there. We don’t care about playing schools in a completely different region of the country on a regular basis. Having said that, I really don’t think ECU and UCF are a good fit in the ACC.
First, nobody wants another North Carolina school in the conference. Also, nobody really cares about ECU even if they are competetive. Unfortunately they probably aren’t going to get appreciably better. They’re in a tough recruiting area and would be way down on the totem pole for recruits. Chances are they are not going to build consistently strong teams. Also, while they have beaten the schools you mentioned, more times than not they’d be similar to a Wake. They’ll be a well coached team that will put up a fight and bloody your nose but they’ll most likely not win in the end. Similar statements can be made for UCF. With Pitt and ‘Cuse you at least get a national brand and the programs have more potential up side. It is a money grab but if you’re gonna do it you might as well do it right.
Second, speaking of money grab, the whole expansion thing only makes sense if you can expand your tv market. Greenville and Orlando won’t do that. It doesn’t make financial sense.
Third, academics. Looks, however deceiving, are important to the ACC. All the schools with the exception of FSU (they have sliped under T.K. Wetherell) and NCSU have academics ranked around 70 or above nationally. FSU used to be there and hopefully will improve and NCSU is old school ACC and is along for the ride regardless.
Just my opinion…worthless as it is.
I understand why you say that the UNC matter may not be relevant to your article. You mentioned something very important though. You stated that you do not see how the ACC might have anything to do with the problems that Carolina has with the NCAA. It has everything to do with the ACC. As you may have suspected, I live in North Carolina. People keep mentioning the television market that ECU would not bring to the table. Again, you are talking about the ability to bring exposure to the conference. Is there any market in the nation that has not heard of UNC and Duke in basketball. These are household words to anyone who follows sports. Yet, when is the last time that Duke has had a winning season and what does their football program bring to the ACC. UNC is in a quagmire of investigation and have in their own way brought embarrassment to the ACC. NCAA investigations have a lot to do with the way we see an atheletic conference. Am I right to assume that the money making ability of a university for the conference overides the violations. I hope you do see that regardless of the outcome of the UNC investigation, the integrety of the ACC has been tarnished somewhat. The ACC expects steadfast adherence to strict moral and ethical codes from all of its members. Believe me, UNC has given the ACC the television market that it wanted. It all ties together into a complex issue of who really has earned the right to belong in a conference.
I am well aware that I have been on my own soapbox as to why a team should be included in a conference. Your viewpoint of the ACC doing it right is highly questionable. Swofford thinks he has outwitted the other contenders to be the ultimate conference in the USA. What he has done will deeply affect the future of many other institutions who want to play fair. The 20 million buyout simply indicates a ploy. In other words the ACC should be proud of themselves because they have been able to frustate their opponents and gain an advantage indirectly. If anything,at this juncture the ACC has embarrassed themselves and and their credibility is suspect. I will assure you that the ACC will see this action come back to haunt them at some time. In retrospect maybe the ACC has done ECU and UCF a favor. They have exposed their hand and we now know something more about their value system. Yes, Swofford must be proud of what the ACC stands for and I am sure the battle to destroy the current conference system is flattering.
I would like to direct you to this posting from the NY Times from a few days ago:
I think that helps paint the picture of why teams add certain teams and not others. It’s more about broadcast contracts. Having a team in NY means that when you negotiate with tv networks you can say “Our schools are located in X, Y, and Z and so they are reaching the eyeballs of all the people in X, Y and Z.” If the ACC adds ECU, they aren’t expanding their network imprint even if they are adding fans to their conference. As far as the TV networks care, they haven’t added anyone.
The SEC actually hasn’t been interested in adding teams like Georgia Tech or Florida State because for TV purposes, they already have Georgia and Florida, there is less of a net gain for them financially. So yes, it is all about money. But if Swofford wants to assure the long-term and short-term survival of his conference in this cutthroat age of conference expansion, then this is his best course of action.
I have enjoyed the dialogue this afternoon and appreciate your position. Through the conversation I learned a great deal. I will admit now that I went to ECU but it is difficult to see what is happening in college atheletics. If you ever get the opportunity I would love for you to see all that has been done to enhance the facilities in Greenville. ECU has lived under the shadows of the other North Carolina schools for years. Also, if you get a chance, watch the UNC vs ECU next Saturday night at 8:00. I promise you that you will get to see an event that is worth the ticket price.
Me too, it is great to converse with a passionate fan from an exciting team like ECU- they are fun to watch and I cannot say I had ever met an ECU fan. If I ever get to make a road trip to Greenville (a possibility for next year) I will be sure to post here beforehand to get recommendations for places to go and things to do. As a Michigan fan (albeit with very strong ties to Maryland) I am fortunate that my school’s place in its conference is solid, but it is definitely interesting to see how it’s going to unfold for the rest of the country. Best of luck to the Pirates going forward!
“All (the ACC) of their recent actions have been focused on self preservation and financial gain.”
Aren’t self preservation and financial gain normal human concerns?
I have personal ties to both ECU and USF and like both schools but I afraid your rant reflects a misperception that any of these conference changes are about improving football. It is all about money and hoping to survive. Neither ECU or USF add a new television market just as Clemson and FSU didn’t add anything for the SEC. Adding them means increasing the payout to each school without increasing revenues. The PAC-12 television deal pays it’s member schools about 50% more than the ACC gets. So if the ACC wants to be relevant they need to find ways to close the gaps. Pitt and Syracuse bring new television markets and thus more revenue for everyone.
The ACC actions keep them relevant while giving the member schools a chance to still be competitive on a national basis. It was a smart move even if there are winners and losers. You dislike it because ECU didn’t benefit, but ECU didn’t hesitate to apply to the Big East and leave their conference brethren behind. No one should begrudge them either. USF only recently became a player at all.
Finally, at this will hurt a bit, ECU and USF are still viewed as second-tier schools behind the existing ACC schools. (Just as the ACC schools lag the Ivy League). West Virginia suffers similarly for the ACC and SEC invites.
Ultimately the BCS changes are likely to create more animosity to college football, but under the current rules, every school is trying to get the best deal they can for themselves.
For what it’s worth, just wanted to commend the author and the posters for an intelligent, civil back-and-forth that’s rare to see on any site these days.
Let me weigh in. Adding Syracuse and Pitt does NOT raise the profile of ACC Football. The only team that has done anything in your conference over the last few years in football is VPI. Since they have been in the ACC, name me one top 5 team they have beaten? The ACC’S BCS Bowl record is 2-11. They have never put 2 teams in the BCS Bowls in the same season. 3 Teams in the ACC have been hit with violations the last 3 years (GTech,N.Carolina, and Miami). The ACC’S Exit Fee is 20 Million? Please!!!. I think your commisioner (Swofford), is overestimating ACC Football.
Thanks again for the opportunity to voice my sentiments. There is no question that the ACC is now in the driver’s seat.
Also, best of luck to the Wolverines. I have always been an avid supporter and over the years they have defined college football. Your article was enlightening and and well researched. By the way, “Do you writ an article every week?”
Yep, every Friday (usually by noon) I post my Broken Bat column, which usually isn’t Maryland or Baltimore-specific but tries to stay relevant. Glad you enjoyed, it is good to talk to passionate, articulate, and gracious readers like yourself!
Man, Kim. If I shared a cubicle with you I’d shoot myself.
There really wouldn’t be any need to go to that extreme. Please tell me what that has to do with Weston’s article? I never have been able to understand where an off the wall comment like yours surfaces from when an interesting dialogue exists. Do you have an opinion about the ACC’s position? Weston did a significant amount of research and if you feel you need to respond or make any comments, stick to a response about the article.
Wow. Double wow. Now it’s your turn to write an excruciatingly long diatribe. Do it. You can’t help yourself. Mussttt resspppoonnd….Muuusssttt puuuuttt fiiinggeerrs onnn keeyboooard…
I am sorry that I did not respond earlier. After you accused me of being verbose, I experienced paranoia and was worried that I would respond in a manner that would meet your expectations. You did me a favor in teaching me a word that I had never used before. The word was diatribe, and it conveys a meaning that focuses on bitterness and abusiveness. My comments to the writer were never meant that way. I am not sure where you fitted in the dialogue but it occurred to me that you must enjoy venting yourself.
In my opinion, it would be nice to see what your thoughts were on the article. I just wondered if you could add to whatever has been said up to this juncture. Who do you represent? One side of me thinks that you are somewhere between the SEC and Big East conferences. That would make you an advocate for the ACC and that would explain everything. Please show your hand?
That’s my boy.
As I have no dog in this fight, sorry Kim. ECU and UCF are minor programs. Pitt and Syracuse are good fits. I think Pitt is a US News top 20 academic school, and I know they are in the “Big 63” research instituions. (I know, they call it something else, can’t think of it). Syracuse is academically a good school also.
Hard to find two better hoops programs the last 10 years than Pitt and Syracuse.
Allthough football, Syracuse admittedly poor, and Pitt mediocre lately, they both have huge football traditions, and Pitt has been to several bowls the last few years, and Syracuse it working on it.
Kim, it’s really not even a discussion. No disrespect to your schools either, but, sorry, the rich get richer, and as a conference alum of Maryland, Syracuse & Pitt vs. UCF and ECU, it’s a no brainer. Pretty simple actually.
I respect your response and perhaps you are right about Syracuse and Pitt. My problem is understanding why have they chosen to piggyback the ACC when their programs are superior to many of the current schools in the ACC. Why should they decrease the probability that either of them will ever become a national champion in football. As the number of teams grow in the ACC the chances to be on top are fewer. I say that because in two devisions you must play each other more often and there can only be one representative in the final game. The ACC as it grows in number will only end up beating each other. Thinks about it for a second, why do you think that Miami and Florida State refused to be in the same devision. They knew that if they were in the same devision, they would always prevent the other from getting to the big dance. The fewer number of teams in a conference allows for a better opportunity to play the big game in January. Essentially, Syracuse and Pitt have rolled the dice the wrong way. They do not need the ACC money because they are in a position to earn even more. This is a poor example, but why do you think that Notre Dame continues to remain independant? The Big East teams have it all wrong. I never would have imagined the North putting the South in control of their finances. The ACC has power and with this new alliance, are having the last laugh. Yes, ECU and UCF may be small in the big picture but they have unlimited potential. Ask your friends at Boston College how much success they have achieved since joining up with the South. Their former coach is at NC State and former quarterback is establishing all kinds of records at ECU. The ACC was dumb enough to send the greatest quarterback in the nation this year to Wisconsin. It appears that the ACC may have sent the national championship up North to the Big Ten. The grass always looks greener on the other side. Just maybe, there is still time for Syracuse and Pitt to rethink their position. But then again, since the ACC teams are smarter, they will feel the comfort of home in the ACC. Why not let the South do all the thinking?
Comments are closed.