Neil, thanks for the long & detailed reply to my post. I greatly appreciate the fact that you gave so much thought to it. I truly enjoy the exchange of ideas. Again, much appreciated. :)
You're welcome. ;)
I agree with your comment about North Carolina & Virginia. You can throw in some of the other non-ACC public Ivies who fit this same description. However, I don't think that makes them the same as BC, Syracuse, & Miami. They are still the "brand name" for their states & as such are in a much better position to pick up casual fans who are not alums but who are taxpayers supporting these public schools than are private schools.
Agreed. But ultimately, it isn't the ADs, nor the conference commissioner that decides memberships in conferences. It is the presidents of the institutions. And as a result, certain presidents had an affinity for BC and to a lesser extent Syracuse than they had for the other fine academic institutions in the Big East. Of course, it didn't hurt that they were also the two Miami wanted to take with them to the ACC and it also didn't hurt that (what I firmly believe was) the overall vision (which is probably a better term than plan) for where the presidents and ADs thought they had a chance to take the league as per comments made by Maryland AD Yow, NC State AD Fowler, GT President Clough, FSU President Wetherell, and then NC State President Fox.
Despite their bad football programs, they nonetheless consistently draw considerably higher attendance to their football games than do the privates mentioned here - except for Miami in good years, which is not consistent.
Agreed now in terms of hindsight. But not true then. Without ACC $$$, Syracuse had outdrawn either UNC or Virginia in at least 2 of the 4 years prior to the decision being made. And in the years prior to 1998, Syracuse did outdraw both more often than not.
And during the time period when SU was good, Virginia wasn't bad. In fact, it basically had almost the same record during that time period.
Still, the overall point of both UNC and Virginia having the potential to draw more fans statewide is correct.
However, if that were a premiere consideration, one would have to wonder why VT and West Virginia weren't the initial targets along with Miami?
My basic premise in this post is that state flagships have inherent advantages over privates in terms of connecting with a wider fan base in their states, in terms of visibility, & in terms of funding. IMO, the ACC ignored this to their own detriment.
Again, I understand what the point is, I'm just not convinced it is an all-consuming, nothing else matters kind of point. It is only one factor among many - such as, academics, markets, sports history, current sports facilities (which I think at that time hurt SU), TV perception, etc.
Although I agree with the first part of this statement, I'm not sure that going to 14 or that PSU or Pitt were ever part of their thinking. I doubt they'd admit it even if that were the case. If you're right, then this was more poor planning by the commissioner & delusional thinking. PSU is now a Big Ten school & is not going anywhere - ACC or otherwise. ND's rejection of the ACC in the fall of 2003 demonstrated how delusional the ACC was on this point as well.
You're thinking again with the advantage of hindsight. The vision for expanding the ACC began in the late 90s at a point in time when ND was seriously considering Big 10 membership. As a matter of fact, the Big 10 and the media thought it was a done deal, and so did ND faculty. Only at the last minute did they decide not to join.
Why didn't they join? It wasn't the money, which was a wash. It wasn't the quality of the academic institutions. A case can be made that the Big 10 is the premiere BCS academic conference. So what was it? It's because other than Northwestern, there were no other institutions like ND in the Big 10.
Fortune seemed to favor ND's decision not to join because in 2000, ND played in a BCS Bowl for the first time receiving a full conference share. However, they were blown out by Oregon State.
In 2002, they thought they deserved to be in a BCS Bowl but were amazingly frozen out, though they had finished #9 in the BCS rankings. It was also this year that they were renegotiating ND's take with the BCS cartel should they make a bowl game. Father Molloy and Kevin White were starting to acquiesce to suggestions of ND just receiving an at-large share of 4.5 million and 1 million in years they did not appear in a BCS Bowl.
The signs of weakness were there. ND might, within a decade or so, consider conference affiliation for all sports.
Now, you are the ACC and you are considering expansion to increase your prominence. Your conference is bordered on the southern end by the SEC. As a matter of fact, in your three most southern states, Florida, Georgia and South Carolina your schools are not the flagship schools and fall far behind in terms of fan support in those states to the SEC. The most important of these states is Florida. How do you make yourself the equal (or near-equal) of the SEC in at least the state of Florida and increase your prominence as a football conference. You get Miami on board with expansion and hope having both Miami and FSU tips the balance in favor of the ACC in Florida.
You have the mid-Atlantic states of Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina sewn up. But where else are the teams from these states popular, particularly in basketball? In the northeast corridor - the biggest markets in the country, dominated mostly by pro-sports. Just as ND and Penn State dominate the NYC market in terms of football - Duke is the most popular bb team in NYC and UNC is in the Top 5 as well. But if these markets (including the biggest) could be turned somewhat more to college sports and college football in particular, TV would richly reward the conference or conferences that could accomplish that feat.
So the last thing you want, if you are the ACC (or the Big East for that matter), is for the Big 10 to add ND to Penn State (which is why it is ridiculous for Big East fans to call for ND to get fully in or get kicked out - but that is another thread ;) ). If that should happen (ND to the Big 10), it is very likely lights out and the Big 10 becomes the pre-dominant college conference in the northeast.
So, how, if you are the ACC, do you make yourself an attractive enough conference for ND to at least consider? Well, what conference does ND admire the most but cannot possibly join? The Pac-10. What conference does ND play all of its sports in but football? The Big East.
So, if you are the ACC, you make yourself attractive to ND by becoming the Pac-10 version of the Atlantic Coast and you add northeastern schools that are similar to ND. Well, what BCS caliber institution is more like ND than Boston College? And what private institution in the northeast has had more success in the two major sports than Syracuse?
With BC and Syracuse on board, along with Maryland, Virginia, UNC, Duke, and Georgia Tech you now give ND an attractive alternative to the Big 10. Entice ND then you also have the possibility of plucking Penn State from the Big 10. With both on board, the $$$ surpasses anything the Big 10 could get - even with 14 members instead of 10 or 12.
The lack of a NYC "home team" has left this market to the schools you mention. However, there is no reason that it has to be this way.
I don't think you can equate northeastern mentality with southern mentality. In the southern states where college sports, and particularly college football, rule - fans tend to rally around state schools.
However, northeastern pro-sports mentality tends to rally around 'winners' that are somewhat within geographic proximity. And by winners, I'm not talking about 'what have you done for me lately winners.' Sports fans in the northeast tend to know their history and know the greats from the past. Which is why ND and Penn State remained way out in front of all other college football schools even during their 'down' years.
While both Rutgers and UConn have an advantage in terms of proximity, they have a long ways to go in terms of being considered 'winners' in terms of college football. Can they get there? Sure. But it will take time - and there is no guarantee they will get there either.
I'm obviously Monday morning quarterbacking this whole thing, but I think that the ACC would have been better off looking to the future rather than to the past. I have long felt that Rutgers is a sleeping giant. Great high school football players in state to recruit. State flagship with a large enrollment. The only D-I school in one of the 10 largerst states in the country. Right across the river from metro NYC, making them the closest BCS school for NY/LI kids who want to play close to home, which only adds to an enormous recruiting base. Even without the NYC market, NJ is a tremendous TV market in its own right. The lack of a NY home team even gives them the potential to draw casual fans from NY/LI. I stress "potential."
It appears that SChiano is the right guy to put all this together & his rejection of Miami's overtures indicate that he is committed to the state where he grew up. Clearly Rutgers does not own the TV market even in its own state. But that can change. The Notre Dame thing won't last forever - especially as they continue to lose bowl games & have no NCs to show for their efforts. AS the Irish Americans of the WW II generation continue to die off, they will have no more "subway alumni." Same for Penn State. They are big in NY/NJ by default. They also developed a following going back to the days when they were the biggest kid on the block among the Eastern independents, making them the regional leader. They actually played games in the Northeast outside State College, so fans in the NY/NJ area could go to see them live. Well, they've been competing in the Big Ten for almost 15 years now. No more road games in the Northeast. IMO, their hold on NY fans will fade. They'll always be the home team in Philly, but not NYC.
There was something magical aboput the Rutgers' run last year. When Louisville came to town, local sports talk radio broadcast live from Rutgers all afternoon & right up to game time. The Empire State building was bathed in crimson lighting in honor of Rutgers. They dominated the local media. If they build on this success - & there is every reason to believe that with Schiano they will - they will take the city by storm & they will own New Jersey.
In light of this, it's easy to think that the ACC might have made a different decision if they were looking to expand today - or at least they should.
Again, I can understand the viewpoint you express above, I just think it is based way too much on 'potential' and not on actual achievement. Back in 2002 and early 2003, the ACC would have been laughed at for even considering Rutgers as an expansion candidate. Now it is at least not inconcievable, but the Scarlet Knights will have to prove it over the next 5-7 years before I would say any of the above.