Why couldn’t all of this conference stuff happened in June and July when I was scraping for content? I just cannot get over how much this stuff is dominating all week, after week, after week. Do you realize the Big East Media Day for basketball is in less than 2 weeks?
Time to clear some tabs just to make the room for the final push before the Rutgers game. A bit of emphasis on the ACC.
A little history from the 2003 ACC raid on the Big East. How close Syracuse was to going, but for the lawsuit that gave VT time to get the lobbying effort in full swing.
According to ACC bylaws, seven of nine schools needed to vote yes to admit another school. Duke and North Carolina were traditionally opposed to any expansion. Virginia and [UVa President] Casteen, in essence, were that seventh swing vote. But one thing is clear: The suit had some effect.
It gave [Virginia Governor Mark] Warner time.
“I do remember that we thought we were out (of luck) a number of times,” Leighty said. “But there was additional time, and I guess the lawsuit was why that happened.”
Eight times, Leighty recalls, he and Warner thought it was over. Eight times, the prospects of Syracuse joining the ACC would have been better had they given up.
ACC officials had visited the Syracuse campus on June 4, and the deal was all but official. Then the Connecticut Attorney General filed the lawsuit, ultimately joined by other Big East schools. That put things in flux and was the time that Virginia politicians and the University of Virginia’s president needed to get VT into the ACC. If you want to know why I don’t believe the Hokies would go to the ACC, just read this story to get an idea of how much political capitol, favors and support from UVa was expended to get VT to the ACC. Too many favors are owed by VT to bolt the ACC and UVa now.
Even after that, Syracuse had a shot at the ACC — if they had been willing to try. The sense of betrayal, though, was too strong.
Syracuse history professor David Bennett thought it was obvious SU could still join the ACC even after June 24. This was an obvious second chance as, to Bennett, it was clear the ACC would go to 12 teams to have a lucrative conference championship game.
Bennett, the former chairman of the Athletic Policy Board and the NCAA Faculty Representative from 1975-95, went to Shaw.
“The question I had for (Shaw), it wasn’t a question, it was a strong feeling, and it was that this could not stand,” Bennett said. ” … They were clearly going to add either Boston College or Syracuse. And I thought we should make a full-court press to be that school.”
[Syracuse Chancellor Kenneth] Shaw and [AD Jake] Crouthamel chose not to.
Instead, the two, along with University of Pittsburgh Chancellor Mark Nordenberg and then-University of West Virginia President David Hardesty Jr., worked to rebuild the Big East into the unbalanced yet formidable 16-team basketball superconference it became, Shaw said.
Boston College, though, secretly pursued the path Bennett suggested for Syracuse and ultimately joined the ACC in October 2003.
“At the time we had no intent of leaving, at the time we were obsessed with putting the conference back together,” Shaw said.
Pitt and Syracuse did what they could then to save the Big East. The did. The Big East in this form lasted longer than most thought (including me). So when someone like ex-Big East Commissioner Mike Tranghese tries to lay some of the blame for the demise of Big East football on Pitt and Syracuse not doing enough on the field, he is choosing to ignore how easily they could have killed it 8 years earlier.
It’s curious that the lack of success by Syracuse and Pitt, in Tranghese’s estimation, is a big part of why the league became vulnerable. Pitt was only 38-25 over the past five seasons, eventually dismissing alumnus Dave Wannstedt as coach. Syracuse went 21-40 during the same period; the 8-5 record in 2010 was its first on the plus side of .500 since 2001.
“Ironically, one of the reasons Big East football wasn’t big enough to sustain it was the people who are leaving, along with some the ones staying, didn’t win enough games,” Tranghese said.
That is a lie and rationalization. Even if both programs had been on top, the Big East would have still been as vulnerable — if not moreso. Pitt and Cuse would have been even more attractive for expansiopocolypse. Tranghese knows that the inherent instability of the Big East — conflict of football and basketball schools — was the reason for things falling apart. In fact, he bailed because he knew it was coming — even if he keeps claiming the problem remains with the football schools just not winning.
“I would have worked another four or five years,” he told Sporting News recently. “I knew all this stuff was coming. I knew it wasn’t ending. I knew the football structure of the Big East was fragile. It’s a hard way to operate. The problem with Big East football is they didn’t win enough games.”
To be clear, that means Mike Tranghese quit the Big East. Claimed it was because he was tired and his fear of flying was getting too strong. Then lets the disaster fall upon his friend, and Number 2 in the Big East, and then says he knew all along what was going to happen. Nice.
Meanwhile our friends at Panther Rants have a wonderful analysis of how each member of the ACC is viewed. Just read all of it and enjoy. And if you feel that the take on BC was a bit much, this douchey piece from a BC student should quickly change your mind.
For football, the ACC adds two mediocre teams, which may prove to be competitive for BC but does nothing to improve the prestige of the conference. The truth is that the Pitt Panthers and Syracuse Orange have minimal history in football and the BC football program, though struggling right now, arguably holds a higher standing in people’s minds due to its recent success.
Basketball is the opposite: adding a program like Syracuse is a great addition to the likes of UNC and Duke in terms of prestige and history. However, both Pitt and Syracuse are top programs right now, and BC is coming off a mediocre year. Last year, the Eagles finished 9-7 in the ACC and failed to make the NCAA tournament for the third time in the last four years. It will be extremely hard for the Eagles to win a game against either of these teams when they join, which could cause them to struggle mightily in ACC play.
Factual issues with the “minimal history in football” aside, it’s amusing logic. BC will face competition, but the conference is harmed in football. At the same time the conference is aided in basketball, while BC will be maimed. There’s more, but it isn’t worth the time.
As for other possibilities for the ACC, there continues to be noise about Notre Dame. This bit seems too speculative to be anything but wishful thinking from Notre Dame.
The Irish will not be keen on staying in the Big East if the conference’s football side dissolves. Notre Dame has not entered discussions with the Atlantic Coast Conference or the Big Ten. But as the future of Big East football dims, the possibility of those conferences as landing places increases considerably.
The best possibility for Notre Dame is finding a partial landing spot in the A.C.C. That could mean Notre Dame’s basketball and non-revenue sports teams would become full-fledged A.C.C. members. In football, Notre Dame could set up a scheduling agreement with the A.C.C. in which it would play a certain number of the conference teams each season yet keep its football independence. Television executives believe that each Notre Dame game could be worth about $3 million for the league.
I don’t see it (arguably, I also do not want to see it). There is no incentive for the ACC. The Big East arguably had a need with Notre Dame to help goose the bowl tie-ins. Plus the backing of the Catholic basketball schools. This is the ACC bowls line-up:
Champs Sports Bowl
Music City Bowl
After the auto-BCS bid, the top two Big East bowl tie-ins are Champs and Belk Bowls. Those are the Number 3 and 5 bowl tie-ins for the ACC. Tell me again how much help ND would provide? And how well do you think the other ACC schools would take to ND being picked for one of those bowls over them, while not being a full member?
No, Notre Dame’s only choice will be to join a conference all the way, or be part of a very weakened Big East. No other conference has to play nice with ND.
Chris Dokish speculates on how ND and Penn State could join the ACC. It’s a nice thought experiment, but I just don’t see it. One of the big things about the Big 10 — besides the money — is how entangled the conference is with the schools in education and research. For Penn State to leave the Big 10, the costs would be absurd. The unwinding of so many other entanglements would take years.