October 7, 2011

Some ACC Loose Ends

Filed under: ACC,Conference — Chas @ 10:37 am

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:

Orange Bowl

Chick-fil-A Bowl
Champs Sports Bowl
Sun Bowl
Belk Bowl
Music City Bowl
Independence Bowl
Military 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.

It should be so darn obvious that the structure of the BE is just so darned compromised to ever work in the long run whether it is (A) an 8 or 9 team FB league and 16 or 17 BB league, (B) has a team that doesn’t participate in FB, or (C) was bringing in a team from over 1500 miles away from many of ist team with a completely different culture than the makeup of the other schools.

As far as BC, I see that both their FB and BB programs has sunk to new depths. You may remeber that both Al Skinner and their former FB coach were fired for considering other jobs and the AD had to new coaches …. hey BC AD, how’s that working out for you???

Comment by wbb 10.07.11 @ 11:12 am

Awesome post!

Comment by JAM 05 PITT 10.07.11 @ 11:36 am

Don’t see State Penn ever admitting they made a mistake by leaving the B1G for the ACC.
And to follow PITT into the ACC, no way would Paterno go for that. Now maybe after he retires or ceases to exist, whatever, the likelihood goes up a little, but not much.
And the way State Penn plays football, like it’s 1968, they really belong in the B1G, as does their horrid basketball team. Can you imagine them getting pummeled every night in the ACC, man that would be fun to watch.

Dokish’s article makes sense, but Diaper Joe isn’t sensible anymore, if he ever was.

Comment by EMel 10.07.11 @ 12:15 pm

Penn State will never leave the Big Ten … period … end of story! As for Notre Dame, they keep on stringing out people with the ACC now being enamored by them. Notre Dame is just blowing smoke to keep their lap dog, the Big East, together by stopping the ACC from taking both UConn and Rutgers. I whole heartedly agree with Chas that the ACC should only accept Notre Dame if they go “all in”.

As Chas pointed out in a previous post, TCU leaving hurts Pitt’s chances of leaving early from the Big East. Our only hope is the SEC takes Missouri causing the Big 12 to take WVU and Louisville. I do not see the benefit of them taking Cincinnati. If I was them, I would take USF just to get back at the SEC. It would give them a tiny toe hold in the Florida market.

Comment by John In South Carolina 10.07.11 @ 12:33 pm

Could be wrong, but I seem to recall back around the time Mia, BC, and VT left the BE and it was thought to be on the way out then, ND approached the ACC about the hybrid membership discussed in this post. The answer was a flat out “No thanks”. It should stay that way!

Comment by HbgFrank 10.07.11 @ 12:38 pm

Everyone should take 15-20 minutes and read the full Panther Rants’ post, including all the comments. There is some seriously funny stuff in there, lighthearted, with random alum sticking up for their schools and agreeing with a few assessments.

Comment by Rieur1114 10.07.11 @ 12:45 pm

I wonder how the ACC fans of each of the schools think of Pitt. My analogy is a decent looking girl that is smart but not overly geekly with a self confidence problem but is fun to be with once you get to know her particularly after a few drinks. Definately a girl you could bring home to mother but wouldn’t necessarily impress your friends with her looks…very good personality though.

To me the ACC school perceptions are: Clemson seems like a very fun tailgate with good natured fans. Ga Tech appears to be the Pitt of the South. Dook and UNC seem to be pricks or douches; I look forward to Pitt giving those schools an AZZ whoop in B-ball. NC State as having an inferiority complex since it’s little brother to UNC (reminds me of Pitt’s complex with State Penn). Wake an afterthought but harmless if not fun to be around. Va Tech as rednecks…a Hoopie equivalent but with better academics. Virginia as blah and a bit pompous. Maryland would be a close road trip but that’s it. Florida State good for the chicks and weather. Miami…thug U and crime ridden city. And to our old frenemies BC, F-off. You give the great city of Boston a bad name.

Comment by TX Panther 10.07.11 @ 1:02 pm

Rieur. agree that the Panther Rants’ post is a good read .. the original post is really funny as are many of the responses. Also was impressed by the number of responses from ACC fans … all of them better than anything I ever read from any Rutgers’ poster.

Comment by wbb 10.07.11 @ 3:00 pm

You know what is funny the big east is going to have the same schools join. after as the ones who would join now.

Point being why wait it will be UCF Temple East Carolina SMU or Houston.

Navy and army wont join this mess now so why wait bring in who you can and be done with it.

No big time team is comeing the list wont change so take the 4 you want out of 5 or 6 like teams and be done .

Comment by FRANKCAN 10.07.11 @ 3:44 pm

Just a thought BB means a lot to big east and they are loseing PITT and Syracuse. may be they ask Memphis to join in football to help replace us in BB.

It has a big BB footprint and would help make up for our leaveing.

Comment by FRANKCAN 10.07.11 @ 4:18 pm

That Panther Rants piece was hilarious! It was refreshing to see some of the ACC fans come on and be playful and inviting…aside from the BC fans who were clearly cheesed over the content in the BC part.

Comment by BCPITT 10.07.11 @ 4:32 pm

To be exact, Dokish said Notre Dame could end up in the ACC, but that Penn Stat, while they should seriously think about it, would probably never do it.

Comment by Mike 10.07.11 @ 6:37 pm

GUYS please stick up for Pitt women,
that is all.

Comment by Rieur1114 10.08.11 @ 9:09 am

Hey Losers – Wake up! The Big East would not have fallen apart if Pitt and Syracuse hadn’t left! Face the facts – we are part of the reason for all this instability in college sports. We will regret the move to the ACC big time with respect to the sport teams’ success but the hierarchy won’t care one bit because they’ll be raking in the money, and that’s obviously what matters. Enjoy the mediocrity now because it’s only going to get worse when ACC play begins! You guys like to rip on the Hoopies and keep coming back to 13-9. Let it go. Fact is, they own us and have a better program than us. For as vaunted as our basketball program is, WVU has even had more success than us in the NCAAs over the years. Maybe that’s why we’re leaving the Big East – because we can’t overtake WVU and UCONN. Keep drinking the kool-aid that SP and Nordy are serving – keep paying all the money for the same crap year after year………….

Comment by Larry Moserton 10.08.11 @ 2:58 pm

With every thing which seems to be developing throughout this subject matter, many of your opinions are generally fairly stimulating. Even so, I beg your pardon, but I can not subscribe to your whole strategy, all be it stimulating none the less. It appears to everyone that your opinions are generally not completely justified and in simple fact you are yourself not even totally convinced of your assertion. In any event I did appreciate examining it.

Comment by neck piercing 10.10.11 @ 3:26 pm

If it wasn’t Pitt & Syracuse, it would have been two other schools. The Big East had eight years to right the ship, but the only invite was TCU with Nova as a possible tenth team. The Big East was similar to a clearance rack…decent football schools, ready for a willing buyer.

Comment by magadog 10.12.11 @ 1:26 am

[…] lord. Welcome back to revisionism. Suddenly all appeared peachy. Let’s flashback about seven months: “I would have worked another four or five years,” he told Sporting News recently. “I knew […]

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