Expansion. Up until last Thursday afternoon (6/3/10) it's been nine parts speculation and one part vague. The lone fact was dropped back in December when Big Ten Baron Jim Delany announced his conference would be studying expansion over a 12-18 month period. At first, most pundits thought Big Ten expansion was just a play at Notre Dame and a lucrative championship game, but soon realized the Big Ten could swell to 14 or 16 teams. When asked, the other conference commissioners confidently said they would be ready to respond, but there were no official details. Then the game changed. Chip Brown of OrangeBloods.com broke the news that the Pac-10 would offer Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Colorado membership. In the four days since: the Pac-10 has placed their expansion plans on the table, Baylor ousted Colorado from Pac-10 consideration, the Big 12 has given Nebraska and Mizzou an ultimatum, the Big Ten has pushed up its timetable, Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott says he's been given authority to "advance" [the] expansion process and the SEC will formally discuss expansion. It's all but inevitable now, it's just a matter of how hard the dominoes fall.
Let's concentrate on the last item, SEC expansion, as I believe it will most directly effect Virginia Tech and the ACC if it happens. Florida State, Georgia Tech, Clemson and Miami are most identified as likely ACC targets for the SEC. Popular opinion is because they're the most SEC-like schools, with historic ties to the conference, are tradition rich and are committed to winning football games above all else.
With that said, the ACC has two options.
- Be proactive, preserve the current 12 teams, and offer conference membership to some combination of Uconn, Syracuse, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, etc...
- Do nothing and fill the holes of the (potentially) departing teams with some combination of Uconn, Syracuse, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, etc...
If I had to bet my life one of the above, it would surely be on choice two.
F4H put it perfectly, John Swofford is spineless and the Tobacco Road power brokers are old, short-sighted and stupid. I'll also add, they want to do all they can to keep the ACC from further branching away from its basketball and academic roots. The ACC brass' complacency with the status quo and lack of aggression worries me.
If the second scenario happens the ACC would be watered down, we're talking dollar cocktail weak. In the land of 16 team super conferences the ACC would be the new Big East. None of the potential replacements come close to supplanting the departing teams.
What about Virginia Tech?
Unlike the majority of ACC and Virginia Tech scribes and fans, I believe if the SEC does look to expand VT will be a target, and their potential candidacy goes beyond being the best football team in the ACC. What separates VT from the four ACC schools mentioned above is the Hokies can deliver a new television market, Washington DC's 2,335,040 households as well as the rest of Virginia to the SEC. The DC Metro Area is home to the largest Virginia Tech alumni base, and in May VT extended its media presence and reach by inking a deal with 106.7 The Fan, the premier sports radio station in the area.
Furthermore, Chris Low noted the following from the SEC meetings that would support my opinion:
Two of the possibilities that popped up the most during casual conversation with coaches, athletic directors and other league officials were Texas and Virginia Tech. Both are tailor-made for the SEC in football, and it would be two brand new markets you’d be adding to the league.
Most of you will be quick to point out that Virginia would have to accompany VT to the SEC because in 2003 then Governor Mark Warner forced UVa to support the Hokies membership to the ACC. I disagree. VT/UVa will not have to be a package deal, because Virginia Tech won't feel political pressure to include them. Why? Because it's obvious life would continue on normally for UVa in a post apocalypse ACC, a conference they helped found. The Hoos ultimate goal of winning championships in all sports (read those that don't matter) and competing for a Directors' Cup will remain intact and unchanged. They also value their history with the Tobacco Road schools. Furthermore, against weaker competition, they may actually win a couple of more football games a year. Bonus.
Being a member of the SEC, the premier college football conference, would provide more national and regional television exposure (CBS, ESPN, ABC broadcasts), increased recruiting clout and revenue (dump trucks full of money). Critics will argue that our 10 wins in the ACC equate to 7 wins in the SEC. Sure, an ACC school winning 10 games against a SEC schedule is daunting, but I think it's obtainable once we're on an even playing field. As a member of the SEC we'd commit ourselves to a higher level of excellence under a greater pressure to succeed. To be the man, you gotta beat the man (Woo!).
Adoring classic Ric Flair footage is what being in the SEC is all about.
If it's not obvious by now the let me state that in a heartbeat I'd prefer to go to the SEC over a gutted and rebuilt ACC. Now that you know what I think, what do you think... If VT was offered membership to the ACC would you accept?