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Expand This! The ACC Should Look North


As everyone already knows, all the talk this spring has been about BIG 10 expansion. Just about every school north of Puerto Rico, east of Sarah Palin’s front porch (the one you can see Russia from) and west of the Canary Islands has been mentioned as possible targets. In turn, the SEC is now talking about expanding and the Big 12 & PAC 10 are thinking getting into bed together for some spooning time.

Every possible rumor is flying. Texas to the Big 10 and the SEC, Maryland to the Big 10, Arkansas to the Big 12, Boise State to the Pac 10…hell, there’s talk about UCF joining the Big 12. Yes, Central Florida, located in Orlando, Florida.

Of course all this talk has the Atlantic Coast Conference, the original conferences poachers, running scared.

So what the hell does all this mean for the ACC?

While I have no personal knowledge of what’s going to happen in the Big 10 (which is really 11 teams), they will be the conference that will get this “expansion” ball rolling down the slippery slope (too many clichés?).

Now you would think that they actually have a good thing going. The Big 10 is one of the few conferences that has powerhouses in both football and basketball, so why mess with a good thing? Easy….cash…and lots of it.

The Big 10 already has their own network. While the average folks like me can’t see it, the best way to get the Big 10 Network on all cable boxes is by adding more teams (thus widening its coverage).

So far the rumor has it they’ll go for either a 14 or 16-team mega-conference. The obvious team to join would be Notre Dame. The problem is, why would the Irish want to share money with 13 or 14 other teams? The fact is, they have their own freaking network.

Outside of South Bend, the other teams rumored to have received offers are, (from the Big 12) Nebraska and Missouri, and (from the Big East) Rutgers and maybe Pittsburgh.

Now as an average fan, these teams don’t make too much sense. I wish college conferences were more like the pros, where regions mattered (unless you’re the Dallas Cowboys who somehow play in the NFC East. ou explain that one to me).

If the Big 10 wants to expand, I’ll accept that, but in reality if they want to add three more teams, then they should take Notre Dame, Cincinnati, Iowa State.

Now I know those aren’t all sexy names (like ‘Dick Longwood’), but my reasoning is, these three teams already sit in Big 10 country. Notre Dame already plays half of the Big 10 teams and I’d pay to see some Cincinnati vs. Ohio State games (in both basketball & football). It just makes sense.

Now that’s 14-teams, which I think works out great for football. So on top of that, for basketball, I would add two schools that don’t play Division I football. I’d add Depaul and Marquette, which would give the Big 10 a 16-team basketball conference. Perfect, right? Which means it will never happen.

Of course, I’m not in charge and this process isn’t about what’s right. This is about dollars. By bringing in more “local” teams that would actually create great rivalries, you won’t be expanding your coverage. That’s why teams like Missouri and Rutgers (located in New Jersey, although living in NYC now, I don’t know a single Rutgers fan) are potential top targets.

Just like that the Big 10 represents just under half the nation. Of course my question is, when am I suppose to start to care about Missouri vs. Rutgers?

Let’s go back to the beginning.

Again, I have no idea what the expansion will look like, but let’s assume it will be a combo of Big 12 teams and Big East teams. Next up, the big, bad SEC (at least in football. Never forget, this is always about football first).

While the SEC certainly has a good thing going in football, they’ll have to keep up with the Kardashian Joneses. The boys down south already have 12 and unlike the ACC, their conferences are already broken up correctly (west & east). So what does the SEC do?

They basically have two choices, go east or go west. Actually, if they go looking for four teams, then I guess they could go east and west. The logical choice west is Texas. But the Longhorns aren’t going anywhere without their little sisters, Texas A&M. Besides these two teams, could you really see the SEC grabbing anyone else west of the Mississippi? I certainly can’t.

Now assuming Nebraska and Missouri head to Big 10 country, if the SEC grabs the two biggest Texas schools, then you can kiss the Big 12 good-bye (BTW, would that send Oklahoma out west? Just asking).

Now let’s look east. To me, the obviously choices would be Florida State and Miami. Think about it, if the SEC could lock down the talent from South Florida, plus get their foot print in Texas, the SEC would basically become the minor leagues for the NFL.

Now let me tell you why this won’t happen. I got two words for you…Florida…Gators.

The Florida Gators don’t want the competition. Rumor has it, it was UF who blocked FSU from joining the SEC back prior to the Seminoles eventually picking the ACC. The fact is, these three schools compete for some of the most talented players in south Florida. While the Gators have a ton of selling points, one thing they certainly tell possible recruits is (again, we’re talking football), real men play in the SEC. If either Florida State or Miami joins the conference, you can kiss that recruiting tool goodbye.

Two other teams being talked about are Clemson and/or Georgia Tech. The SEC is already in South Carolina and Georgia and both the Tigers and Yellow Jackets already have a rivalry with the Gamecocks and Bulldogs, so they won’t feel like the red-headed stepchildren if they joined the SEC.

Now just for fun, I’m going to throw a couple of dark horses at you. If the SEC doesn’t want to waste their time in states they already have a market in (Florida, South Carolina), why not look north? What about Louisville? The Cardinals would be a wonderful addition for basketball and just like that the Louisville/Kentucky game would have some UNC/Duke meaning to it.

Also, how about Virginia Tech and/or West Virginia. Tech is solid in football and competitive in basketball, while the Mountaineers are solid in basketball, competitive in football. With these two and Louisville, they could ignore Texas and grab an up-and-coming program South Florida, East Carolina or Southern Mississippi. Just let that soak in for a minute, but not too long, remember…I just pulled those schools out of my ass.

Wow, I’m knocking out a lot of info and I haven’t even sniffed the ACC yet. Let’s do that now.

If both the Big 10 and SEC expand, you can count one the ACC getting pouched. In reality, I’m not against this. I think it would set up a perfect scenario for the ACC to raid the Big East again.

First, let’s talk about down south. While the Seminoles have been around long enough, I’ve never liked the idea of the ACC being down in Florida. Just look at the logo map. Both FSU and Miami seem too far away (and yes I know Boston College is further away). These two, Miami and FSU, just never really felt like ACC schools. Now don’t forget, I’m born and raised in Miami and I’ve been cheering for Hurricanes football for a long time, so I’m not bashing my home state. I’ve just always felt that both Miami and FSU belonged in the SEC (with the word “Southern” being the key word.

If I was running the ACC and I’m witnessing the Big 10 and SEC expanding (mostly for football), then I’m going to move forward and thing about basketball. If they want to create the greatest football conferences, then the ACC is going to be the greatest basketball conference.

If the SEC is able to land two schools, then I’ll need to add six schools to remain competitive. However, I would only do 14 for football and 16 for basketball. I’d also would look north at a broken up Big East.

For football/basketball, my top four targets would be West Virginia, Pittsburgh, Connecticut and Syracuse.

To get to 16 for basketball, I’d throw in St. Johns and Georgetown.

The beauty of this would allow us to reshuffle the division. The current system that has teams like Miami and Florida State in opposite divisions is a stupid joke. With these new teams, we can separate the teams into true “South” & “North” divisions, which would be perfect. Just watch.

For this example, I’m going to pretend the SEC takes Florida State and Miami, but keep in mind, nothing changes if we swapped Clemson or Georgia Tech for either FSU or Miami.

SOUTH: Duke, North Carolina, NC State, Georgia Tech, Clemson, Wake Forest, Maryland & Virginia

NORTH: Syracuse, Connecticut, Pittsburgh, West Virginia, Virginia Tech, Boston College & Louisville

That’s the football set up. For basketball, you don’t need to break them up, but if one was inclined to do so, you’d put St. John’s in the north division and Georgetown in the South.

Now for football, that’s a decent 14-team league. Sure I’d wouldn’t call it equal to a super-duper-mega SEC or Big 10, but there is no reason why it couldn’t be in the future. All these schools are capable of putting many dollars into their athletic departments. There is no reason why a handful of these schools couldn’t becoming national players.

However…and it’s really all that matters…this would be the greatest basketball conference man has ever seen. Could you imagine this? Seriously.You’re taking the best of the Big East and just adding it to the ACC. I’m sweating just thinking about it.

The best part is, if you did break them up into divisions, the “North” division is basically the old Big East (when you put Boston College and Virginia Tech back into the mix) and the “South” conference is basically the old ACC (the one I fell in love with).

This breakdown would allow for all local rivalries to remain rivalries, Syracuse-Connecticut, Duke-North Carolina, and would create new ones like Georgetown-Maryland in basketball.

You know, I use to be against expansion, but after putting this together, I’m all for it. Go Big 12, poach away.