Oh, lord the expansiopocolypse just keeps rolling. Let’s start with the latest and work backwards to Tulane.
There was a sense of inevitability that the ACC was going to take another team after Maryland decided to depart. In theory, the ACC could have stayed at 13 for football and 14 everywhere else with ND. But, that just isn’t how expansiopocolypse works.
It seemed that UConn would be the obvious choice. Actually on the East Coast. With BC’s obstinate AD Gene DiFillipo retired, that barrier was done. Including Hartford, Connecticut actually gives UConn a bigger TV market than Louisville. Better academic ranking. All the things that go into present-day conference realignment.
Plus, when you put UConn in there with Syracuse and BC, there’s a strong argument that the ACC would have some real market penetration in both NYC and Boston — at least insofar as there is interest in college sports in those markets. Cable outlets like SNY might be much more inclined to align with ACC interests with both Cuse and UConn part of the package — especially since they will have to worry about YES becoming aligned with Rutgers and the Big Ten.
Louisville is simply the stronger athletic program. The grumblings from Clemson and FSU (and VT as well) have been quite loud about the need to improve the football in the conference. Louisville offers that along with a great basketball tradition. Additionally, there is a clear and very firm commitment to the athletics.
Plus, and this is important, Louisville may not have been there when the ACC would have needed them if they waited.
A source with knowledge of the ACC’s discussions said a big reason that the ACC moved so quickly to add Louisville was that the Big 12 was interested as well.
“This is a unique reset moment,” said a person with direct knowledge of the move. “Schools that weren’t in the mix may come into the mix. Some schools on the sidelines now seem more relevant, especially if we going to start about 16.”
The ACC has also been also contacted by UConn, USF, Cincinnati and Navy. None of those schools are being sought after by other leagues, meaning that if the ACC moves to 16 schools there’s no rush to add one of them now.
That wasn’t the case with Louisville.
Last year when the ACC invited Pitt and Cuse, the Big 12 (or at least the Texas mouthpiece) was making a bit of noise about being interested in Pitt. If the ACC had grabbed Cuse and UConn (or even Rutgers as an example), there is no doubt that Pitt would have had no choice but to go to the Big 12. That played a role. The ACC couldn’t count on Pitt being there in the next round of expansiopocolypse the same way they could with UConn. Maybe not the deciding factor, but another check on the Pitt side of things over UConn.
That was a definite factor once more. And once more UConn got left behind.
UConn is relatively isolated geographically in terms of other conferences. Given the shifts it is conceivable that they could still end up in the Big 12, but unlikely. The ACC or Big East are their only destinations. UConn could wait last year. And when the ACC decided it wanted to replace Maryland, it quickly realized it could still wait on UConn.
Now this should be one more chance for the ACC to fix the divisions alignment. Virginia Tech will object but the chance to geographically fix the divisions.
North: Pitt, Syracuse, BC, VT, UVa, Louisville, Wake Forest
South: FSU, Clemson, GT, Miami, Duke, UNC, NC St.
Assuming the “protected rivalries” are kept for a 6-1-1 schedule, VT could still get Miami which could placate them a bit.
Of course there was greater urgency from UConn, Louisville and Cinci to somehow get out of the Big East. After yesterday’s news of adding Tulane in all sports and East Carolina in football only.
A move that not only smacked of desperation all around, but further drove home the point that the Big East simply lacks other options to bring to their conference.
Villanova fans are bemoaning all the “what ifs” dating back to when the Big East tried to get them to move to 1-A football at the same time UConn did so.
USF fans are wondering what the hell their AD and president are doing.
Cinci fans are out there somewhere.
The basketball schools are doing the math and grimly reaching the same conclusion that was there last year. That they still need even the crappy football-side if they want to make any money. That going off on their own is still not financially viable