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ACC Fans Choice: Notre Dame or West Virginia

The current ACC is 15 schools, one of which is Notre Dame.  Notre Dame participates fully in all sports, with the exception of football.  As we all know, the Fighting Irish are committed to play 5 schools a season in football.  West Virginia is a full member of the Big XII.  The Mountaineers athletic relevance has decreased substantially since making the geographically-unfriendly move.  The question for ACC fans–if West Virginia were to make overtures about joining the ACC… would you rather have West Virginia full-time (allowing an addition of UConn to get to 16 teams) or Notre Dame (in its current form)?

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Sad Emoticon for UConn

The Confidential, candidly, is disturbed by this whole conference realignment thing.  There are many schools–think Wake Forest and Iowa State–that are extremely vulnerable if the 5 major conferences turn into 4.  There is something inherently “wrong” in dispatching a “have” team into the “have not” category.  Even worse, there are schools that have already been relegated to this status.  Think of the University of Connecticut Huskies.

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Pitt is eliminated after controversial call

English: Logo for the athletics teams at the U...

English: Logo for the athletics teams at the University of Pittsburgh (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Pitt Panthers came up short in their attempt to win the BE baseball tourney on Saturday after a 10 inning 3-2 loss to Notre Dame. With an RPI of 65 the loss leaves Pitt on the bubble for the NCAA tournament. They will now have to wait until Monday for the field to be announced to learn their fait. I believe that a second place finish in the BE should be enough to get them in.

Pitts two losses of the tourney came against Notre Dame with errors at critical moments of the game. A pair of crucial errors help to lead them to a 5-3 defeat in their earlier meeting and Pitt committed 5 errors in Saturdays game.

Pitt looked poised to take the lead in the top of the 9th when they had base-runners on first and second but a controversial call stalled their rally. Notre Dame pitcher Nick McCarty threw the ball to first in an attempt to pick off the runner but the throw went into the first base stands. Both runners took two bases on the error which scored the runner from second and gave Pitt the lead but the umpires told the runners to back up a base, putting runners at second and third instead and taking the run off of the board. Pitt coach Joe Jordano protested but after a meeting from the umpires the call was upheld. The ruling made was that the pitcher threw over to first base while still in contact with the rubber which limited both runners to one base. If he had left the rubber then the runners would have been given two bases each. The first base umpire ruled that the pitcher did disengage the rubber but was over ruled by the third and home plate umpires. Still Pitt was in scoring position with one out but the next batter popped out to third and the following batter struck out to retire the side.

The bottom of the 10th started horribly for Pitt as Evan Oswald booted a ground ball from ND Charlie Markson. This was followed by Dylan Wolsonovich error on a grounder by Frank DeSico which gave ND two base runners with no outs. ND bunted the runners up to second and third and Pitt intentionally walked the next batter to load the bases and to set up a double play possibility. Instead Ryan Bull hit a sharp single to center to score the winning run.

The sixth seeded Notre Dame will take on eighth seeded Connecticut for the championship on Sunday.


Pitt is only 99 days away from their ACC and season opener on Labor Day against Florida State at Heinz Field. This will probably be one of their biggest season openers in recent memory.

If the ACC were to end the football season with a rivalry game, who would best fit that role for Pitt? Virginia Tech? Miami? Boston College? Penn St? Some other team? What are your thoughts?

Conference Realignment–What if the ACC, Big 10, SEC, and Big XII Worked Together?

So far, conference realignment has been about taking… usually in the form of a happy conference (stealing a school), a happy school (happy to be stolen) and–cue the sad trombone–a sad conference (losing a school).  So far, the unhappy conference has usually been the Big East, but the Big XII has lost Missouri, Texas A&M, Colorado, and Nebraska, while the ACC has lost Maryland.  Only the Pac-12, SEC, and Big 10 have been exclusively happy.  In the meantime, there are rumors upon rumors of the ACC being carved up, with fewer (but existing) rumors regarding the Big 10 eying more Big XII schools.  But what if the ACC, Big 10, SEC, and Big XII sat down and worked on a plan that would keep each of these conferences roughly happy, while allowing each conference to arguably expand its market base?

Consider that the Big 10 has eyes on the Southeast market, but is leery of alienating its midwestern base/roots.  While some people talk about expanding to 18 or 20, these additions always involve Michigan and/or Ohio State moving to the eastern side.  On the other hand, the Big XII has a grant of rights that makes it more difficult to pry away a school.  But what if everyone sat down and came up with a plan that would kind of/sort of make everyone happier.

First, the Big XII would give up its GOR rights for Kansas, allowing them to slide to the Big 10.  In exchange, the ACC would give up Pitt, who would slide to the Big XII.  The SEC would give up Missouri.  In exchange for Missouri, the ACC would give up North Carolina State.  Missouri would go to the Big 10.  The Big 10 would be at 16, the SEC at 14.  At 10 members, the Big XII would have the option of taking Cincinnati and USF to move into further new markets (Ohio and Florida), while also adding a conference game.  The ACC could take UConn–adding a new market to replace the NC State “market” lost.  The ACC could also take Temple, adding a private school in the Pennsylvania market.

This would result in:

SEC East: Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, NC State, Vanderbilt, Tennessee, Kentucky

SEC West: Alabama, Auburn, LSU, Arkansas, Mississippi, Miss State, and Texas A&M.

Big 10 West: Nebraska, Missouri, Kansas, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, Northwestern, Iowa

Big 10 East: Ohio State, Penn State, Maryland, Michigan, Rutgers, Purdue, Indiana, Michigan State

Big XII South: Texas, Texas Tech, Baylor, TCU, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State

Big XII North: West Virginia, Pitt, Cincy, USF, Iowa State, Kansas State

ACC Atlantic: UConn, BC, Temple, Louisville, Clemson, Georgia Tech, Florida State, (ND)

ACC Coastal: Syracuse, Duke, Wake Forest, Virginia, North Carolina, Virginia Tech, Miami, (Navy–same deal as ND, only less money?)


Big XII loses Kansas–a major basketball power.  However, Kansas is also terrible at football.  The Big XII stays strong in football at the top by adding Cincy and USF–two beatable teams in great markets for recruiting.  Cincy and USF are on the upswing in hoops too.  Pitt is very established in hoops.  A nice home-and-home pod with Pitt and Cincy for West Virginia.

SEC loses Missouri, but picks up NC State.  A market for market swap that probably hurts the SEC somewhat.  But the SEC adds a school that gives inroads into North Carolina, while further fitting in better on the Eastern side.  If, in 10 years, the SEC and Big 10 decide to carve up the ACC–the SEC has a lure for North Carolina–State is already there.  Meanwhile, NC State is more of an SEC school in terms of football zeal by the fans.  The basketball program could thrive freed from the shadow of Duke and UNC too.

The Big 10 gets a stronger Western flank with Missouri and Kansas.  With both schools freed of games against the powers of the SEC and Big XII, they could thrive.  The divisions finally start to make geographic sense, allowing for a 9 game schedule–7 games inter-division, plus two games against other division.

The ACC loses NC State and Pitt–two decent football programs.  UConn and Temple are a downgrade… but this staves off a loss of the major football powers and the major markets/leaders.


Of course, in a perfect world, the existing conferences could sit down and make complete geographic sense.  But that cannot happen.  In the interim, however, the conferences could work to share markets to allow all TV deals to slide upwards.  Although it is will get the most criticism, the Big XII would really be the big winner here.  The adds of Pitt, Cincy, and USF would open up three major recruiting markets, without exactly taking on terrible metro markets (Pitt, Cincy, Tampa).

What do you think?  Even if impossible, does it make sense?



ACC Poll Day–If Notre Dame Went All-In with the ACC, Who Do You Like For Team #16

Today is a good day for a poll.  Query–if Notre Dame was to shock the world by going “all-in” for the ACC, giving it 15 teams, who would you like for team #16?  Let’s assume that schools from the SEC, Big XII, and Big 10 are out of the mix because…. they are.  Nobody is taking a pay cut to join the ACC.  It is what it is.

The candidates:

  • Connecticut.  Pros–outstanding hoops (mens and womens) & competent football, with at least one BCS appearance.  Rivalries with Syracuse and Pitt, and a huge rivalry potential with Boston College.  Even Duke-UConn womens hoops would be huge.  Cons–only competent football, not outstanding football.  Geographical overlap with Boston College.  Not a pedigreed football name.
  • Cincinnati.  Pros–new market (southern Ohio), good football recently, and some decent hoops.  Close to Pittsburgh & Louisville for potential rivalries.  Cons–small market, as Ohio is dominated by Ohio State, while neighboring Kentucky is  swallowed by Louisville and Kentucky.
  • Navy.  Pros–national name and a partner for Notre Dame.  Back into the Maryland/DC market.  Cons–terrible hoops in the post-David Robinson era.  Football would not exactly be an upgrade–although it is hard to say that Navy is demonstrably worse than UConn or Cincinnati in the big picture.
  • South Florida.  Pros–outstanding location for football recruiting and potential.  Cons–ACC already has the Florida market in check with Miami and FSU.  Hoops team has not done much, and the football team has underachieved of late.  Not a national name by any stretch.
  • Temple.  Pros–Philly market, good hoops history, and potential for football.  Cons–football has been more bad than good in the modern era, especially in the absence of a certain Mr. Golden.
  • Hybrid craziness.  Let’s say #16 gets to be UConn for hoops, Navy for football, and Johns Hopkins for lacrosse–take it or leave it, folks.  Or some other combination, like VCU for hoops subbing in for a UConn not being happy with a partial membership.

Anyone else out there?  This seems to be the list.

Who do you like and why?

Proposed ACC Divisions

With the recent addition of Louisville to replace Maryland, the word is that Louisville will just slot into Maryland’s position in the divisions.  What are those divisions?  Who knows?  The non-geographical distribution makes them impossible to remember.  In any event, the Confidential recommends the following divisions:

Atlantic (Coastal rival)

Boston College (NC State)

Wake Forest (Duke)

Syracuse (North Carolina)

Virginia Tech (Virginia)

Louisville (Clemson)

Pittsburgh (Georgia Tech)

Miami (Florida State)

In other words, this would be geographical, except that Wake Forest and Miami slide north and Virginia stays with the South.

The real loser here is Wake Forest, who loses games with its North Carolina-based rivals.  But this is just reality here–Wake Forest is in the worst negotiating position of all teams in the NCAA.  Even Iowa State has its own network now.  You can make arguments for every ACC school to be in some other conference.  But not Wake Forest.  So, with apologies to the Demon Deacons, they just need to suck it up.  Life isn’t fair.  Besides, they also get to be in a division with two private schools.

Virginia gets to be in the South, playing North Carolina and Virginia Tech every year.

Miami gets to play Syracuse and Boston College–Northern exposure every year for those schools.  Florida State gets to be with all Southern-based schools.  Rare trips up north.  Miami and Florida State will play every year.

Were UConn and Cincinnati to ever join… this could be tweaked as follows:

Atlantic (Coastal rival)

Boston College (Wake Forest)

Cincinnati (NC State)

Syracuse (Duke)

UConn (North Carolina)

Virginia Tech (Virginia)

Louisville (Clemson)

Pittsburgh (Georgia Tech)

Miami (Florida State)

Under this scenario, private schools are matched up again.  The basketball is slanted heavily towards the Atlantic.  But any division with Duke and North Carolina is always going to be tough.

In the Confidential’s view, doing whatever one it can to make the divisions logical and easy to remember behooves its short-term and long-term interests.  No matter how hard you try to make divisions competitively balanced, it will not work out perfectly.  So at least use logic and common sense.

What do you think?  Do you prefer the current set-up?  Different idea?

Louisville to ACC, According to Sources

As an update to yesterday’s report, ESPN is now reporting that the ACC voted to add Louisville.  If true, this is a great move for many reasons, such as:

  • It likely makes Florida State happy and shows a break away from the North Carolina/Virginia monopoly on decisions (whether real or perceived).
  • Louisville has strong (pun intended) football and basketball programs.  Rick Pitino joins Coach K, Roy Williams, and Jim Boeheim in the ACC.  Heck, maybe Jim Boeheim will even say that he likes this move?
  • Louisville is improving academically.  Probably.  Hopefully.  Maybe.  Doubtfully.  Who cares?  This is not just about academics anymore.
  • It likely makes Florida State happy.
  • Importantly, Louisville was desired by the Big XII, whereas UConn was not.  There is more urgency to add a team needed by the Big XII.  UConn should be there if/when the ACC needs to expand again.
  • All the other reasons mentioned in the ESPN article.  Indeed, that article almost looks like the ACC wrote it, doesn’t it?  ESPN cares about its investment in the ACC.
  • It likely makes Florida State happy.

West Virginia fans will not be couch burning mad over this, but they certainly will not be couch burning happy.  Perhaps will see some ottomans lit on fire due to the hypocrisy of rejecting WVU because of academics, but then taking Louisville.

The Confidential feels sorry for Cincinnati, UConn, USF, and to a lesser extent Navy.  These schools submitted applications to the ACC, but were not accepted.  Yet.  Again, conference realignment is far from over.  So these schools should avoid despair.

Possible ACC Expansion Vote on Wednesday

David Glenn of the ACC Sports Journal is reporting that the ACC will hold an expansion vote tomorrow.  As most are aware, an expansion vote requires 75% approval.  According to the report, five schools have expressed an interest: Louisville, UConn, Cincinnati, Navy, and South Florida.  Of these, Louisville has the best chance of being accepted, according to Glenn.

This does not mean that Louisville will get voted in.  Mark Blaudschun has tweeted that Louisville is currently one vote short.  The speculation is that North Carolina, Virginia, Duke, and/or Wake Forest are opposed to the move.  This means, of course, that the schools that care about football–Virginia Tech, Florida State, Clemson, Georgia Tech, North Carolina State, and Miami–are in favor of the move.  One would think Boston College would be in favor of the move too, as it would prevent neighboring UConn from immediately joining.

While the Confidential understands that Virginia and North Carolina may be apprehensive about allowing a school of Louisville’s academic pedigree to join, the Confidential thinks that the better course of action is to invest in Louisville to make the adjustments to improve academically.  Associating with the ACC will improve Louisville’s reputation far more than any school’s reputation will be hurt.  And Louisville is an extremely competitive basketball program–picture Duke-Louisville and North Carolina-Louisville conference matchups.  With the ability to take football to the next level, this is really a home run for the ACC.

Some may say that this will cause Virginia to leave.  But if Virginia leaves over this, Virginia was looking for a reason to leave.  This move will stabilize the ACC (as much as that is possible in the current landscape), which should be in the interests of all ACC institutions.  Making Florida State happy is, you know, probably a good idea.

So if the ACC adds Louisville, then this will be a happy day for everyone south of Storrs.  As the musical chairs continues, there is no reason to think that this would be the last move.  UConn will end up somewhere eventually, especially if there are further defections from the ACC.

ACC Expansion Thoughts: 16 teams?

The message boards are heating up over the idea of the ACC adding Louisville, Cincinnati, and UConn to become the first 16-team conference.  Indeed, this was a legitimate enough “rumor” that the well-respected Frank the Tank blog (notwithstanding the Confidential’s recent criticism of some of the comments there), included this quote:

One interesting example of Twitter having fans on edge was a Tweet from Brian Miller, a Tallahassee Democrat reporter that said that the ACC wouldn’t even make a choice between Louisville and UConn, but rather add both of them along with Cincinnati* to create a 16-team conference.  By the time that Tweet spread like wildfire, Miller had removed it from his timeline.  Time will tell whether that was removed because it couldn’t be backed up or the information was too sensitive for the reporter’s source to put it out there for public consumption immediately.  The ACC may very well have the most incentive to grow to 16 first to create a perception of strength in numbers (even if it might not look like the most financially lucrative move).  [Full article here.]

At first glance, the idea of expanding to 16 teams seems counter-intuitive because it would mean 16 teams dividing an already too-small pot for 14 teams.  But there is plenty to discuss about it.  Here are the Confidentials thoughts (albeit with zero predictions).

The recent addition of Maryland to the Big 10 is a benefit to Fox.  While ESPN has a piece of the Big 10, as the Big Ten Network grows, the risk of losing more inventory also grows.  And Fox’s partnership with the Big 10 is one that includes joint ownership of the BTN.  While much is said about ESPN and Fox being cooperative in preventing a third major sports network developing, it cannot be forgotten that ESPN and Fox are not simply dividing the world for mutual benefit.  At some point, they are competitors.  In the same vein, the SEC and Big 10 both covet North Carolina–they may be cooperating to some extent, but they both ultimately have a similar goal.  In any event, if the Big 10 were to take two more ACC schools or if the Big XII were to take a few (or more) ACC schools, then the ACC’s ability to survive would be in jeopardy.  If ESPN profits from the ACC deal, they stand to lose that profit AND suffer the embarrassment of losing ground to Fox.  The Confidential believes that if ESPN wants to have a presence beyond merely the SEC in football and the remnants of the Big East in basketball, it needs to preserve the ACC.  If it wants to do that, it will have to pony up the $$$ to keep the ACC alive.  You know, like it did with the Big XII.

However, ESPN cannot just go around re-negotiating its contracts to pay more money.  It cannot show that little deference to its contracts or otherwise play favorites within the conference scheme.  The loss of Maryland is a one-team change in the conference.  If the ACC were to backfill with UConn or Louisville, ESPN would have to voluntarily renegotiate its contract.  This just cannot happen.

Instead, what needs to happen is that the ACC take on three new teams… such as Louisville, Cincinnati, and UConn.  If that happens, ESPN can renegotiate the TV deal.  It can help narrow the differences with the other conferences, such that the ACC seems less likely to be broken up.  Perhaps it would even be enough to make Florida State happy.  If so, the Big XII would be without effective replacements from the ACC to get to 12 teams.

Now, if the Big XII truly does want 12 teams, suddenly the best options on the table are the Big East schools–with Louisville and Cincinnati perhaps being the best targets, as they would be a nice fit with West Virginia.  Plus, Fox and the Big XII could see taking Louisville and Cincinnati a good measure to block the ACC from getting the revenue increase it needs from ESPN to start evening the balance.  This would make it more likely to eventually land Florida State and Cincinnati.  Indeed, imagine if Cincinnati starts having more TV revenue than Clemson and Florida State.  The pressure on the ACC would be substantial.  It could start to crumble.

On the other hand, the ACC could be pleased to see the Big XII take Louisville and Cincinnati because it would mean less spots available for a future raid of the ACC.  Does the Big XII want Florida State badly enough to go to 14 or 16 teams?  In addition, while Louisville to the ACC makes sense to make Florida State happy, UConn has the location and basketball pedigree to make the hoops schools happy.  In fact, the Big XII does not even need to TAKE Louisville, it just needs to have Louisville sufficiently convinced that the Big XII would take them to defer making a decision.  If Cincinnati is told they are the 16th team, their decision is dependent on both Louisville and UConn accepting.  If UConn accepts first, then it just comes down to whether Louisville is willing to sign on with the ACC or not.  The ACC could end up with UConn, without running the risk of angering Florida State.  After all, the decision was Louisville’s.  It chose the Big XII.

On yet another hand, if you are the Big XII… why care about Louisville and Cincinnati?  The Big XII’s best move would be to take USF with Louisville.  Tampa is a GREAT place for a school.  If the Big 10 can gamble on making Rutgers relevant, why couldn’t the Big XII gamble on USF becoming a clear 4th Florida school?  With Miami down, this is the time to strike.  Of course, USF couldn’t be having a worse year to struggle on the field.  But, from a demographics and recruiting standpoint, this has to be a worthy add.  Or the Big XII could use USF as the partner to try to woo Florida State.  If Clemson is unwilling to abandon the ACC, perhaps USF could do so.  Actually, an argument could be made that the Big XII expanding into Florida by taking BOTH USF and UCF makes some sense.  You get inroads on the Orlando/Tampa markets.  Two HUGE schools.  Again, if the Big 10 is willing to gamble on schools the Big XII.

With more hands than Secretariat, the Confidential has one more.  If the ACC goes to 16 teams, is there room for Notre Dame?  Suddenly, the Fighting Irish are looking at being the 17th school–an unwieldy number.  The ACC may have to move beyond the Fighting Irish at that point.  Maybe drop them down to 4 games per season.  Play each team once every 4 years.  Or this rumor could be a play to get Notre Dame to consider taking Cincinnati’s spot.  Having already sold the alums on the ACC partially, maybe there is a better ability to just bite the bullet and go “all in.”  It’s better than dropping down to the Atlantic-10 or being in the Big XII or Big 10.  For the ACC, if Notre Dame is not going to join now, it is never going to join.  If/when the big money conferences do start poaching the ACC schools, Notre Dame will lose interest.  It’s going to get worse before it gets better.  With ND, perhaps the ACC becomes safe.  Without ND, who knows?

Another hand… if the ACC was smart, it would just negotiate with ESPN to allow Florida State to now keep their Tier III rights.  Allow ND to join the ACC but also keep their Tier III rights.  ND can put theirs on NBC.  Florida State can do whatever it wants with theirs.  Keeping Florida State makes the Southern ACC schools like Clemson and Ga Tech happy.  Getting ND makes everyone happy.  Although ND and FSU would get some extra $$$, is there any doubt that those two schools are, by far, the biggest Kings that the ACC will ever have?  It’s the difference between football relevance and irrelevance.  In 2020’s, the ACC can negotiate something better for Clemson and Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech.  For now, Florida State and Notre Dame can keep those schools in the picture so that their prominence remains stable.

Of course, Occam’s Razor comes into play.  Perhaps the ACC just decided that adding three schools is a good idea.  Or perhaps the rumor is just a rumor.  Who knows anymore?

So, no predictions here… just thoughts.  Feel free to share where you think this is going.

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