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?