The Conference Realignment & Expansion Chronicles
-by Matt Peloquin, CollegeSportsInfo.com
Over the past few weeks every major publication has included their predictions as to how the recent conference expansion rumors will play out. For the past 3 years, we’ve all participated on the Conference Realignment and Expansion Forum, making it the most popular and regularly visited sites for such a subject. We share opinions, news leaks and other related information that has helped shape our opinions.
Since all the so-called expert sports writers have been taking their stabs at the general topic of Re-Alignment, I thought it would be best if there real professionals give it a try. This site was formed three years ago, because Expansion and Re-alignment were topics of much interest for me. Judging by the regular traffic and posters who visit, many of you share a similar passion for this topic (and yes, many of the most interested site members are fans from some of the “fringe” schools like Louisville, Marshall, UCF, etc). What I’ve learned for myself and what I’ve learned from all of you have all gone into what you are about to read.
The recent Miami to the ACC rumblings have brought extra attention to our community. Everyone has their own opinions as to how the various scenarios are going to play out. This is one of those opinions. Enjoy.
Part 1: The ACC Power Holders
There have been rumors floating around the internet realm for some time now regarding Miami and the ACC. After years of speculation, it is as close to reality as it has ever been. We've heard about the "7 votes" issue. Duke and UNC will vote against expansion. NC State, Maryland and UVA are all said to be wavering, but closer to yes votes than no votes. There are subplots, like UVA wanting VA Tech rather than Boston College. As is life, nobody is completely happy. But one thing is for sure....if Miami wants in, they will be in...and here’s why.
Mike Tranghese has refused all interview requests since the Miami flirtation has become public. As it appeared publicly that Miami was leaning towards leaving the Big East, we learned about the "backup" plan by the Big East schools. With this scenario, all the football playing members of the Big East would essentially oust the non-football schools. They have the voting advantage and could do so. There might be certain bylaws to protect such an action, but none have been reported publicly yet. It's doubtful that the non-football playing members would want to give up any automatic NCAA berths just because the football schools forced them out. In today’s "sue first" society, the non-football schools would certainly fight this out to the end.
This is why the most likely scenario for a proactive Big East football would be to simply leave and form a new conference. the money they would make by having a football and basketball television contract would be enough to put aside any loss of an automatic birth. So the league would consist of these members: Miami, Syracuse, Boston College, Rutgers, Pittsburgh, UConn (2005), WVU and VA Tech.
8 schools, All sports.
But we all know WHY conferences such as the ACC are considering expansion: to get to 12 teams and to reap the benefits (10 million of them) of a conference championship game. This is where it could get real interesting. During all the recent expansion talk, there is one point that hasn’t made its’ way to the surface yet: Florida State, Georgia Tech and Clemson hold all the cards.
Florida State, Clemson and Georgia Tech have been the most vocal regarding expansion over the past decade. ACC commissioner John Swofford sees the advantages and is pushing hard for ACC expansion.
So if the ACC schools, other than Miami, Clemson and Georgia Tech vote against expansion, what is to stop these 3 football-first schools from leaving the ACC?
One could argue that combining these 3 schools with the football playing members of the Big East could result in an all-sports conference that would be superior to either the current Big East or ACC.
And where would that leave the ACC? Helpless.
Football would fall to near Sunbelt status and the league would lose any chance at a lucrative television contract after 2005, when the existing one expires. The optimist might mention potential replacements like Louisville, Vanderbilt, and even Kentucky. While Kentucky and even Louisville would help basketball, it wouldn’t help football. Basketball is king and always will be in the ACC, but the conference can’t afford to let football die out altogether. And there are no combinations of CUSA, MAC or Sunbelt teams that the conference would be able to bring in that would help football enough to retain BCS status AND keep basketball at the desired level.
Just look at the candidates and ask yourself this: If the ACC voted against Miami, Syracuse and Boston College, where the only negative would be losing home and home series with all the teams (2 – 6 team divisions would be formed), do you see the ACC bringing in any non-Big East schools? Could Memphis, Louisville, ECU, Marshall, Tulane, USF: A) get the votes, B) be worth bringing in the first place?
So you see where the Miami situation has taken us. It’s that simple: Swofford, FSU, Clemson and Georgia Tech control the future of college football as we know it
. Even a quick glance should show the potential “No voters” at UNC, Duke, Wake, NC State, Maryland and UVA that there is only 1 choice. Bring in the 3 Big East schools or face a diminished future.
All that has to be done to make this happen is A) Miami agrees to the move and B) Florida State, Clemson and Georgia Tech threaten to walk if the 3 schools aren’t added. Its plain and simple.
And what makes this all the more humorous is that the supposed leaks out of the Big East offices about a proactive split between football and basketball schools, even if Miami stays, could make it even easier for the ACC to get it’s 7 votes. If there were no fallback option setup, that would be favorable for FSU, GT and Clemson, chances are the ACC would vote “no”, and the 2 conferences would remain as they were. But with the Big East football members considering a split from St. Johns, Seton Hall, Providence, Georgetown, Villanova, and Notre Dame, they are further opening the eyes of the ACC presidents as to what the future could hold. Rather than watch their football cash-cow Florida State leave, as well as its large market Georgia Tech program in Atlanta, and Clemson, they will see the light and vote YES to the proposed 3 team expansion. Revenue will increase by many millions, exposure will stretch over the entire east coast and the only negative will be the loss of annual home-and-home series in basketball.
This is the reality. This is the ACC cycle. Those who oppose expansion within the ACC are going to have to put that aside and allow the change to take place. The remaining members can enjoy their annual home and home series at the expense of millions of dollars and the loss of 3 of its teams.
Part 1: The ACC Power Holders
Part 2: The Ripple Effect in 1A Football Conferences - ACC->Big East->CUSA->WAC
Part 3: The First Move, Proactive & Reactive Conferences, Small But Stable
Part 4: Hoops Galore: A10, CAA, AE, Sunbelt, Missouri Valley conferences react
AND DON'T MISS THE
Grid Of Realignment Possibilities
Today, May 13th, the ACC has vote "YES" to expand to 12. The only hold up right now is convincing everyone that in addition to Miami, Syracuse AND Boston College should be included, rather than VA Tech.
Congrats to the ACc powers-that-be for stating their case and convincing the majorit ythat this is the right decision.
Now we play the waiting game...