The latest expansion news is the Big East’s future addition of Navy. Among the other expansion news is the blogosphere’s suggestion that the ACC could be raided by either the Big XII or the SEC. Thus, as part of the latest expansion discussion, the Confidential has to begin with these ACC rumors.
The ACC Being Raided by the Big XII?
A West Virginia blog is throwing out the suggestion that the Big XII might expand big by jumping from 10 to 16 teams. The premise of this is that the Big XII would want to try to compete with the SEC in football status by taking some of the ACC’s top football teams, such as Florida State, Clemson, and Miami. Even Georgia Tech, Maryland, and Pitt are thrown in as viable targets. There is also the obligatory Notre Dame angle. Losing any of these teams would be a major wound to the ACC’s football side of the equation and perhaps cause a major fissure with basketball.
The good news is that this is, of course, just a rumor. And the intelligent commentariat at the best expansion-focused blog, Frank the Tank, provide numerous reasons why this particular rumor is illogical and unlikely. In addition, the Big XII commissioner, Chuck Neinas, does not envision any expansion news in the immediate future.
The ACC Being Raided by the SEC?
Before resting too easily, another blog notes that the SEC stands to make huge financial gains if it take two schools, and those schools logically would come from North Carolina and Virginia. This blog notes, correctly, that 14 is an awkward number of teams for scheduling purposes. In addition, expanding the SEC’s market reach into the lucrative North Carolina and Virginia markets would be profitable. The blog suggests North Carolina State and Virginia Tech as the logical additions. It even notes the potential divisions if such a move is made. While the loss of North Carolina State and Virginia Tech would be a terrible blow for ACC football, one would also have to think that the Big 10 would smell blood and try to grab some ACC schools too. So the fact that the SEC needs only to take two teams to get to 16 does not solve the problem.
The good news here is that this is not even a rumor–just an opportunity that the SEC could look at. And, once again, the Frank the Tank commentariat is reassuring with respect to the underrated strength and cohesion in the ACC. Even Frank the Tank, himself, provided an optimistic analysis:
Even Big 12 homer Barry Tramel of the Oklahoman, when asked in a chat yesterday about whether he had heard about the rumors discussed here, dismissed the notion completely and said that anyone that thinks that bad performances in the Orange Bowls means anything doesn’t understand how much university presidents love the ACC’s combination of academics and athletics. He said that he was sure that the Big 12 tried calling FSU and Clemson and that those schools would have hanged up immediately. Remember that this is someone deep within the Big 12 talking.
And then there is the question of whether North Carolina State would even want to leave North Carolina, Duke, and Wake Forest behind. Set aside the politics for a moment–if North Carolina State cannot dominate ACC football, the Wolfpack would have real problems in the SEC. While the basketball path to success might be a bit easier, it would still have to outperform Kentucky and Florida on the SEC scene. Plus, its not like North Carolina and Duke would cease to be recruiting thorns for the Wolfpack.
The rumors and possibilities are certainly disconcerting. Fortunately, there are good reasons as to why these rumors and possibilities are not on the brink of implementation. Still, in a world where Pittsburgh is in the ACC, San Diego State is in the Big East, Texas A&M is in the SEC, and Nebraska is in the Big 10… anything is possible. So do not discard that antacid just yet. In Part II, the Confidential will discuss the more logical next expansion steps for conferences.
Update: Part II is now posted.