ACC Expansion: Conference Should Add Syracuse, Pittsburgh Without Hesitation
The wheel of conference expansion and realignment is officially spinning out of control.
Texas A&M's move to the SEC, which has been heavily rumored for the better part of a month, has set off a frenzy for the 14th spot in the conference.
Then there was the news that the Pac 12 was considering adding four Big 12 schools, most notably Oklahoma and Texas.
The most recent rumor now is actually more than just a rumor at this point. Syracuse and Pittsburgh have submitted applications to join the ACC.
Heather Dinich of ESPN.com had the news early Saturday morning:
“We have been contacted by at least 10 schools in this fluid landscape,” the source said. “We have received letters of application from Pitt and Syracuse.”
That quote was from an unnamed high-ranking official within the conference.
The conference shouldn't spend all that much time poring over their application. They should accept them both without even giving it a second thought.
The biggest reason is simply perception. Right or wrong, the ACC has been tagged as something of a little brother in the grand scheme of things. Showing that they are going to take action in conference expansion rather than just reacting to the moves shows that they are serious about being major players in college athletics.
Football rules the day in decisions like these, but it would also help the ACC's basketball profile. As a 16-team super conference in basketball, the Big East had taken the title of best basketball conference away from the ACC.
If the ACC were to take two of their top programs, that pendulum may very well swing back to the ACC.
Football-wise, this move will hopefully pay off down the road for the conference. They aren't going to gain a whole lot in adding these two in football. Pittsburgh is a solid bowl program, but the ACC already has those, and Syracuse has been a doormat for quite some time.
The bigger football payoff will be when other conferences, namely the Big 12, implode. You can't argue that the ACC isn't a more attractive conference to possible new members with Syracuse and Pittsburgh.
The big fish, of course, is Texas. If other possible conferences balk at the Longhorns, and more specifically, their use of the Longhorn Network, maybe the ACC will be able to lure them in by rolling out the red carpet for them.
There is also the issue of conference footprint. This move would go a long way toward establishing the ACC, not the Big East, as the premier conference in the northeast. Pittsburgh and upstate New York are two of the bigger markets in the region.
This move would set off another set of dominoes in conference realignment. The Big East is a smaller conference in football. They would likely have to add some teams after losing the pair.
I feel like a broken record with how often I have said it, but conference expansion and realignment is far from over. We've only seen the beginning. It's almost impossible to imagine what major college football will look like even just 12 months for now.
When all those changes come about, it's key that a conference comes off as action-oriented rather than reactionary. The ACC can take steps in the right direction by accepting both Syracuse and Pittsburgh into their ranks.
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