Thursday, June 10, 2010

Will love keep us together? The ACC and expansion

We've all seen the dominoes begin to fall since yesterday with Nebraska going to the Big Ten, Colorado to the Pac-10, and TMZ (yes, TMZ) seems to think Oklahoma State is ready to jump, but who knows.  The Big 12, as Scotty would say, is breaking up and he canna hold it together much longer.  It seems likely that, save any real effort from Texas to revive the conference, the Big 12 is going to go the way of the dodo and the Pac-10 will become a college football super-conference with 16 teams.  Of course, I think it's good for their wallets but bad for the sport, but I can get into that in a separate article.

The question remains is how will this affect the other major conferences -- well, the ones which still exist?  The Big Ten is no doubt already getting envious and, to prove that theirs is just as big as the Pac-10's, will also explore expansion to 16 (though that seems more distant than the Pac-10's expansion, which is an imminent reality).  The most likely source of a direct hit on the ACC, however, would be if the SEC wants to pop some proverbial Enzyte pills and undergo some natural conference enhancement of their own.

Lately, more and more people in this here blogosphere are not only discussing the ramifications of an SEC incursion, but the likelihood.  It is becoming fairly clear, at least to me, that an SEC raid would be somewhat unfeasible and would not make a lot of sense.  There is a very good post on Eagle Outsider which breaks it down far better than I could, so if you have not already seen it, take a look.  The gist of it is this: ACC teams flipping over to the SEC would only gain a little more financially, the SEC would likely not be conquering any new media markets, and those ACC teams would be bailing out to join an inferior academic conference.

The only way the SEC could really break any new ground would be to poach the Virginia schools, Maryland, or some North Carolina schools.  They would have to take both Virginia Tech and Virginia, because the Virginia state government will throw a shit-fit if they break them up.  I think it's quite unlikely that they'll snatch either one.  Additionally, those few suggesting that North Carolina would leave for the SEC forget about a school named Duke, who would also have to go (and I see no reason why they want to, as they're as ACC as can be).  There is no way in hell UNC and Duke will be split up.  Football may be king nationally, but not on Tobacco Road.  UNC-Duke basketball would be an out-of-conference game!  Like that's going to happen.  Finally, nobody seems interested in Wake Forest or NC State, I doubt there's interest on their part, and clearly we're not going to the SEC.

Some had suggested that Maryland would let themselves be courted by a new conference, but their Athletic Director shot it down quite forcefully.  So that about does it: the only ACC territory the SEC can truly annex is very unlikely to fall into their hands.  So what does that leave?  The rumored four: Clemson, Georgia Tech, Miami, and Florida State.  South Carolina is already SEC territory.  Georgia is already SEC territory.  Florida is already SEC territory.  Adding those four teams would be nothing more than adding schools for the sake of adding schools, or to show the Pac-10 and Big Ten that they can keep up in the numbers game.  If any of those schools leave the conference, they probably just don't really want to be here anymore, anyway.

The net result here is that I'm becoming convinced that the SEC will do nothing -- unless they decide to go get Texas.  THAT would be a major coup for the conference and would likely prove highly successful.  As for raiding the ACC, however, it would do little overall to enhance them.  Love won't keep the ACC together, but not having much of anything that the SEC can pry away just might.

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