If the Big Ten expands, every major conference will follow. There’s no choice. To cling to what they have is to be stagnant, and to be stagnant is to cease to be a major conference.
Expansion means more markets, more rights fees, more revenue and more power. It also means – if a conference gets it right – a better product.
The ACC didn’t get it quite right when it added Boston College, Miami and Virginia Tech in 2003. The idea was that the lucrative Boston and south Florida markets would generate money and enhance football.
But Boston College has been an utter waste. The school failed to deliver the Boston market, which was predictable. It also failed to delivera team that fans who aren’t alumni care about. Throw out the record books when Boston College and Wake Forest get together. Or don’t.
Miami was once the premiere program in college football. The Hurricanes are now the overweight bald guy who sits on a bar stool and tells you what a stud he used to be.
Virginia Tech, however, has been invaluable. One of my favorite annual ACC moments is when basketball coach Seth Greenbergflips out when the NCAA tournament rejects his team.
Greenberg aside, I love the Hokies. Along with delivering the coveted Roanoke market, they’veshown the ACC what big-timefootball looks like. It’s not their fault that the rest of the conference has been unable to keep up.
ACC football is overrated, overblown and overshadowed by the SEC. It’s where Among Other Teams Receiving Votes gather. It’s where good things don’t happen, but will.
A friend says, “Butch Davis will get it done at North Carolina.”
This is the motto of ACC football: “We’ll get it done -- eventually.”
Elite conferences get it done now.
Last season Georgia Tech and Clemson played for the ACC football championship. Before they did, the Yellow Jackets and Tigers played the teams they most want to beat. Georgia Tech lost to mediocre by SEC standards Georgia 30-24 and Clemson lost to mediocre by SEC standards South Carolina 34-17.
Apologists will tell you that the Tigers were looking ahead to the ACC championship. In related news, the North Carolina basketball team looks past Duke so it can focus on the ACC tournament.
While waiting for Butch Davis to get it done at North Carolina, here’s what I do if I’m the ACC: I call in reinforcements. I go after West Virginia, Louisville and Cincinnati.
Along with delivering the lucrative Beckley, W. Va., market, the Mountaineers would transform the ACC. Fans of the Mountaineers are a perpetual blitz. They are loyal and they are devoted and they don’t care who knows it.
You imagine Bob Huggins and West Virginia fans at the ACC basketball tournament? Nobody would ever call it a cocktail party again.
Yet the school I would most like to see in the ACC is South Carolina. Steve Spurrier versus Duke, versus North Carolina, versus the world. But that won’t happen.