It has recently been reported that the Detroit Lions, having mastered the art of running a successful professional football team, are going to sponsor a bowl game in the ultimate holiday destination of Detroit, Michigan. As a resident of the Detroit metropolitan area, I can make say that without it being offensive, fyi. In any event, this new Detroit Lions Rust Bowl, or whatever it will be called, has opened the floodgates to numerous new bowls being contemplated/rumored, within even more atypical partners, such as:
Last week, we analyzed the last decade of ACC performances in football and basketball. There were some surprises. For example, Boston College in football and Florida State in basketball. But what does it mean overall? How about a ranking of the performances of all schools in both sports? Here you go.
The Blue Ribbon panel appointed by Johns Hopkins University to evaluate the pros and cons of joining a conference for lacrosse as an associate member has issued its report. The report recommends pursuing a conference affiliation. The Confidential believes that the ACC should add Johns Hopkins as an associate member for lacrosse only.
First, the ACC needs a sixth team. Duke, Syracuse, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Virginia, and it was going to be Maryland. The loss of Maryland means the loss of the 6th program.
Second, in Johns Hopkins, the ACC gets a huge name in lacrosse, as well as solidifying the Maryland region. The rivalries are there.
Third, this would be the premier conference in the history of… ever. Imagine if Alabama, LSU, Florida, and Georgia left the SEC and joined a conference with Florida State and Miami. Regional and dominant! Or a basketball conference with Kentucky, Syracuse, Duke, North Carolina, Kansas, and Michigan State. You get the picture. If you are going six, go all the way.
Fourth, Johns Hopkins has a TV deal with ESPNU that it wants to keep. The ACC’s rights are owned by–wait for it–ESPN. This part of it works. How would Johns Hopkins mesh with the Big Ten Network? Not as easily.
Fifth, Notre Dame set the precedent here with a partial membership. Not really breaking any new ground. And other conferences have allowed members for just one sport under similar arrangements.
Finally, the Big 10 wants them too. Perhaps. Maybe. Why be in a conference with Rutgers lacrosse, when you can be in a conference with 5 of the biggest names in, well, ever. Johns Hopkins looks a lot more like Duke and Syracuse and Notre Dame, than it does a boring flagship state university with 50,000 members.
So there it is. Everything works for this. We just need the ACC to beat the Big 10 to the punch.
Few questioned the decision by Syracuse’s Michael Carter-Williams to forego his last two years of college basketball and enter the NBA draft. After all, NBA draftniks had been drooling and fawning over MCW for the entire season. The phrase “certain lottery pick” is enough to convince the Confidential that any player should turn pro. But this one is getting ugly.
The good news for MCW is that Chad Ford has stated to Syracuse.com that scouts either “love” or “hate” MCW. So some scouts still love him. But others hate him? That seems harsh… presumably they just dislike his game. But that is bad news.
Even worse is this quote from Ford:
“I know his agent thinks that I’m insane to have him, I think right now, I have him projected outside the lottery,” Ford said. “I think Dallas is a very good possibility for him at 13 and Sacramento is a good possibility for him if Anthony Bennett is off the board. Other than that, I just haven’t identified the other teams where I think he is a fit and they’re high on him.”
The good news for MCW is that he is still likely to be a first-round pick and get guaranteed money. If so, the decision to go pro was unquestionably a sound move. If the flaws in his game were not corrected next year, that extra year of college would be wasted.
But it is still a shame to see someone leave school when the “potential” outweighs the “actual.” If only the NBA and college basketball could work together to allow kids a chance to continue to develop their game in college, without making that a risky proposition from a business sense.
The other day, the Confidential ran through the most successful ACC football teams for the past decade. Today, ESPN’s Travis Haney has a list of the 10 most talented football teams for 2013. Three of the top 10 teams in talent are in our very own ACC. Moreover, Clemson is in the next five.
The top 10 is, itself, a whos-who of college football elite. Obviously, one can find Alabama, Texas, and Ohio State on the list. But where does the ACC stack up?
Well, Florida State is #4 on the list. Here is some of the blurb on the Seminoles from the article:
Schlabach’s ranking: 14
Kiper’s top 50 prospects: 3
Kiper’s positional prospects: 14
Four-year recruiting class average rank: 4.5
Considering the above numbers/rankings, there is no reason for Florida State to lose games the way it did to NC State in 2012 or Virginia in 2011. Injuries and inexperience played a part in those losses and others, but the Seminoles are better on paper than any team in the ACC. At least FSU managed a BCS berth — and win — last season, but it should have been a bigger year.
Pretty fair, actually. FSU has to stop losing to inferior opponents.
In a bit of a surprise, Miami is #8. Here is some of Haney’s explanation:
Schlabach’s ranking: NR
Kiper’s top 50 prospects: 0
Kiper’s positional prospects: 11
Four-year recruiting class average rank: 16.5
Am I reaching here? Maybe, but there isn’t a whole lot to differentiate among programs such as Miami, Michigan, Clemson or the ones listed below. I just find the Hurricanes interesting because of how many players return, including the entire offense. They’re kind of easy to forget about, because of the self-imposed bowl ban, but they did win five of their seven games in the ACC — and no team has a hold on the league, not even the Seminoles.
And Notre Dame finished #10. Haney listed Clemson at #12, meaning 25% of the top 12 is in the ACC, while 33% of the top 12 is ACC or ACC-affiliated. Niot bad!
Here is the full list:
- Florida State
- Ohio State
- Notre Dame
- Texas A&M
So… that’s 6 SEC schools, 3/4 ACC schools, 2 SEC schools, 2 Pac-12 schools, and 1 Big XII school.
An argument could be made for Nebraska, Wisconsin, USC, Virginia Tech, and Louisville to be on this list. But, alas, such is not the case.
What do you think… is ESPN stretching for the ACC now that they have a long-term partnership or is this a legit ranking?
Most sports fans are willing to make fun of a school based on its perceived on-field or on-court performance. Sometimes it is accurate; other times it is not. So, what we set out to do was look at the records of ACC schools in football over the past decade. Who do YOU think had the best record in conference games between 2003 and 2012? Worst? Courtesy of stassen.com, we were able to easily make the calculations.
- Virginia Tech had the best record in ACC conference games this past decade, going 64-20.
- Florida State was #2, albeit significantly behind the Hokies in win total, going 54-29.
- Clemson narrowly edged Georgia Tech for the #3 spot, with a 51-31 record.
- Georgia Tech misses out because of that ACC-CG appearance last year to finish #4 at 51-32.
- Miami comes in at #5 with a 44-35 overall record.
- Boston College has to be a surprise at #6, making it 3 out of the top 6 as former Big East schools, with a 41-38 record.
- North Carolina & Virginia tie at 35-45.
- see above.
- Wake Forest went 35-46.
- North Carolina State went 34-46.
- Maryland went 33-47.
- Duke was 12-68.
So, Big 10 fans, you are getting a Maryland team that was 11th in conference wins the past decade. While Maryland has had financial troubles, they were operating under the same system as the rest of its ACC peers. So, good luck with that.
What do you think the rankings would be for hoops? Would it be Duke, North Carolina, or someone else at the top? Who would be at the bottom?
A great day for ACC lacrosse yesterday, as Syracuse and Duke both won… while the traitorous Maryland
Terrapins Traitorpins were upset by Cornell. As you can see from the official NCAA bracket, this means that four teams with ACC ties are still alive in the NCAA elite-eight: Duke, North Carolina, Notre Dame, and Syracuse.
It was not easy for Syracuse, who trailed Bryant, 4-0, before rallying to a 12-7 win. Syracuse also had to overcome losing 22 of 23 faceoffs to Bryant’s Kevin Massa. As Syracuse’s official press release noted, “Sophomore attackman Kevin Rice led the Orange with four points (two goals, two assists) and redshirt freshman Dylan Donahue scored a team-high three goals.” Picking up the win in the crease was Dominic Lamolinara. Syracuse will play Yale in Maryland next weekend.
Duke had it even tougher, as the #7 seeded Blue Devils needed two overtimes to dispatch reigning national champion, Loyola Maryland, 12-11. The hero was freshman attackman Case Matheis, who scored with only 1:40 remaining in the second overtime. But there were many heroes:
Brendan Fowler spearheaded the Blue Devil effort by winning 19 of 26 faceoffs and securing nine ground balls. Josh Dionne and Wolf added two goals apiece, while David Lawson chipped in one goal and three assists as the Blue Devils took 61 shots compared to Loyola’s total of 37. Kyle Turri posted 13 saves between the pipes.
Duke will move on to play Notre Dame in Indianapolis next weekend.
And let’s tall take a moment to laugh at the loss suffered by #6 seeded Maryland. The traitors were not only upset by unseeded Cornell, they were thoroughly demolished–16-8. At home. Given Maryland’s inability to manage an athletic department, it is probably a good thing that they do not need to play any more games. It costs a lot to keep the lights on, etc. Oh well. Those Big 10 partial revenue sharing checks will be coming soon enough.
The 2013 NCAA championship tournament is underway in mens lacrosse and the ACC Champion North Carolina Tar Heels are advancing. The #5 seeded Tar Heels defeated Lehigh impressively at home by a score of 16-7. With the win, North Carolina will move on to face the #4 seeded Denver Pioneers in Indianapolis. Denver defeated Albany in a 19-14 shootout on Saturday.
Although Lehigh jumped out to a 2-1 advantage, it was all North Carolina the rest of the way. The NCAA update included the following summary:
Marcus Holman led Carolina with a goal and four assists while Jimmy Bitter and Chad Tutton each had three goals and an assist. Steve Pontrello added a pair of goals as Carolina piled on the goals against a Lehigh defense which came into the match allowing only 7.44 goals per game, tied for second in the nation. Other goal scorers for UNC were Greg McBride, Walker Chafee, R.G. Keenan, Davey Emala, Ryan Creighton, Spencer Parks and Patrick Kelly. Joey Sankey had a trio of assists for Carolina while Jake Matthai and Greg McBride also had helpers.
A very impressive win for North Carolina.
And there was more for ACC fans to rejoice in, as the #2 seeded Notre Dame Fighting Irish defeated Detroit, 9-7. In the other matchup from Saturday, Yale upset #8 seeded Penn State, 10-7. Keep track of the NCAA tournament here.
We may be at a point where there is a several-year “cease fire” with respect to conference realignment. The leading blog on conference realignment, Frank the Tank, certainly thinks that it plausible. With all conferences other than the SEC signing Grant of Rights agreements, there is solidarity across the major conferences. The cost of adding schools will simply be too great to justify a return on investment. One question that must be posed, however, is whether we will see conference “de-alignment,” that is–a conference parting ways with a parasitic school. It has happened only once in recent years–with the Big East and Temple. Will it happen again? With revenue such a central part of the conference alignment reality, the Confidential thinks it is inevitable. Part I will discuss the conference landscape. Part II will look at the targets for de-alignment.
Part II: The Targets for De-Alignment
The Weakest Schools
Assume that, someday, conferences may have to look inward to increase revenue. In other words, that going from 14 to 12 schools is a better way to increase revenue per school than going from 14 to 16 schools. Who are the schools in each conference that would be most nervous?
Let’s start with our own backyard–the ACC. One has to think Wake Forest is the easy target here. Being the 4th school in a state in one conference may work for the Pac-12 with USC, UCLA, Cal, and Stanford, but Wake Forest is a far cry from any of those schools. The bottom line is that Wake Forest contributes very little to the ACC in terms of finances, away-game attendance, football success, or basketball success. Look at it this way–if the ACC dissolved, where would Wake Forest go?
The next most vulnerable conference is the Big XII. Here, one has to look to Iowa State. While they add the Iowa “market,” that market is not particularly lucrative. While Iowa State may be better at football than Kansas, Kansas is a basketball blue blood. There is really no comparison here. Iowa State just has not performed on the field well enough to make anyone think that they do anything other than “take.”
The Pac-12 is a strong conference, but it is not quite as strong as the Big 10 and SEC. Here, Washington State wins going away. When is the last time that Wazzou was relevant academically or athletically?
The SEC gets tougher. Vanderbilt used to be a football punching bag, but they have outstanding academics and good basketball. Kentucky football struggles, but they are a basketball elite. If the SEC had to lose one school, it would probably be Mississippi State–the second school in a low-revenue state.
The B1G is easy. Purdue. See Part I. Purdue basketball is good, but they are second fiddle in Indiana across-the-board.
While it is not tough to come up with the weakest school in most conferences, it gets a lot harder to find a second-weakest school. And given that odd-numbered schools do not work for conferences, next to tradition, that might be the most important thing favoring the status quo.
In our ACC, who else does not carry its own weight? Boston College has been dreadful recently, but adds the Boston market. Moreover, they have been to more conference title game appearances than Miami.
But what about swapping schools? It certainly does get more compelling when discussing an outsider school that increases value. Who has more value to the Big 10–Purdue or Georgia Tech? From 1909 to 2009, the easy answer was Purdue. In the era of conference networks? Not so sure. And if UNLV were to improve its football product and academics, one could see it catching up with and passing Washington State. Adding UNLV alone might not generate increased revenue, but swapping it for Washington State might.
Who has more value to the SEC and an SEC Network—Mississippi State or North Carolina State? Frankly, the SEC doing that–allowing the ACC to then get rid of Wake Forest, could benefit both conferences.
Your response will be… the conferences would never ever do that. Tradition is far too important.
The Confidential’s response is… huh? Tradition did not stop the end of Texas-Texas A&M, Kansas-Missouri, or Pitt-WVU. It did not stop Nebraska from leaving Oklahoma, or Maryland from leaving the ACC. It did not stop founding members of the Big East in Syracuse and Boston College from choosing the ACC. And if this was all orchestrated by ESPN and/or Fox, then the concern about tradition is even more illusory. AND if conference networks start wielding more power, isn’t it more likely that financial issues will become paramount. What if TV revenue starts decreasing someday? These “business decisions” may go from “leaving for greener pastures” to “getting rid of the weeds.”
Frankly, an argument could be made that the Conferences–all armed with networks someday–could benefit by deliberately re-organize the landscape for the mutual benefit of all. Suppose ESPN sat down with the SEC and ACC and said this… we cannot get maximum value for the SEC in North Carolina and Virginia. We cannot create an ACC Network unless there are a few more states. We suggest this… “NC State and Virginia Tech to the SEC (adding two markets) and Vanderbilt and Mississippi State to the ACC (adding two markets to the footprint and being a somewhat offsetting academic arrangement). Doing this will allow us to bundle the SEC and ACC Network across the entire region from Texas to Maine.” And that is with just two conferences working together.
Is this any worse than a system where Iowa State and Wake Forest have no options outside of their current conference? Not saying this is likely, who knows where TV revenue is taking the college sports landscape. Just remember a few things. Princeton has as many football championships as Alabama and Texas, combined. And 50 years ago, the Sweet Sixteen in basketball included NYU, St. Joseph’s, Bowling Green, Loyola of Chicago, Oklahoma City, and San Francisco.