Wednesday, June 18, 2003

The ACC, the Big East and Mo' Money, Mo' Money, Mo' Money-Sports fans up and down the East Coast have been weighing in on the proposed expansion of the ACC. At this point, the expansion seems to be on hold, for Duke and North Carolina aren't sold on the idea and want time to think through the ramifications and Virginia is leaning against after strong-arming from state officials, for the proposed merger is more harmful to Virginia Tech than it is helpful to UVA. Three no votes block a merger. Ben has a good rundown and supplied the first WaPo link. A quick review-Miami, Syracuse and Boston College are to be snagged away from the Big East in the proposed twelve-team ACC. This will allow the ACC to have a football title game and the big TV payoff that it entails, bolster it's so-so football program with one of the most potent programs in the country in Miami and extend its TV reach by covering New York and New England. The downside of this is that it will mean the end of the football Big East as we know it. With the absence of Miami and Syracuse, the quality of the remainder of the Big East, even if teams like Louisville and Marshall are added, will be a distinct step below the other five power conference in football. The result will be lost television revenues and a probable loss of an automatic spot in the Bowl Championship Series. Politicians are looking at this on economic lines. Virginia politicians don't like it, for being the big fish in a weak Big East football roster will harm cash flows into Virginia Tech more than the added cash flows from an enhanced ACC will help Virginia. Might a solution to this mess be to swap Boston College for Virginia Tech? You'll be giving up special ties to the New England market, but will counteract Virginia's no vote. It will make for a more compact ACC; teams won't have to worry about whether they can get out of Boston after a basketball (or volleyball or swimming) game in January. Syracuse isn't much better, being in lake-effect territory, but BC adds another trip to the snow belt. Also, BC isn't the best fit in the ACC, for it would be the lone Catholic school in a conference of state and secular-leaning (Miami, Syracuse and Duke fit here, I'm not quite sure of Wake Forest's institutional devoutness) private schools. BC's secular enough to fit in, if I recall correctly, as it is fairly liberal as Catholic colleges go, but Virginia Tech would be a more natural fit. Thirdly, BC isn't that strong athletically. It would be a second-division club in both football and basketball, weakening the product. Television geography (the New England TV market) is what's driving the addition of BC. A Miami, Syracuse and Virginia Tech expansion would make sports and financial sense, as it would add three schools that are perennial bowl teams in football. Syracuse is a basketball power while Miami and VT would get up to basketball speed quickly when recruiting players to play in a beefed-up ACC. The ACC might be wise to leave some money on the table and bring VT in instead of Boston College. VT president Charles Steger has stated that he'd not accept an invitation, but if the powers that be in Virginia could show that it's in the state's best interest, he could change his mind just as Virginia was pushed against the current merger package. What does all this have to do about educating college students? Not too much, but that's another post.

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