ACC Expansion: The Good and the Bad of ACC Expansion
News broke today that the Syracuse Orange and Pittsburgh Panthers are leaving the Big East for the ACC. This is a major coup for the ACC as they press towards the future with the addition of these two programs.
There are good and bad issues about the continuing college conference re-alignment. Many institutions are scrambling to save what remains of the once powerful Big 12, and now, the Big East. Some of the same institutions are trying to determine their own futures as well.
Many just look at one sport, but this is a great move on a couple fronts. While the move is good for football, this also is a great move in college basketball, as two major basketball programs are joining an already stellar lineup in the ACC.
The Good: New Television Markets and Television Network
With the addition of Syracuse and Pittsburgh, the ACC adds western Pennsylvania and New York to its already stellar markets. Both schools have great presence in the northeast, so this is a big win for the ACC. Adding the two markets to the Washington, DC, Atlanta, Miami, Tri-City area of North Carolina and Boston stretches the ACC market over a good portion of the east coast.
This could also lead to a possible ACC Network like what the Big 10 currently has. A growing fanbase having their own network would be great for the ACC.
I for one would love the ACC opening up its own network. Being an ACC guy and Virginia Tech grad, I only get to watch them when the ACC is broadcasted on national television.
The Bad: The Road to the 16-Team Power Conference
Conference expansion has its benefits, but I do not believe that expanding past the current 12-team alignments in most of the conferences is necessary. The 16-team superconferences is just the same scenerio that was present for much of college sports with eight-team conferences; literally, that is what the 16 team conferences are. It's a small conference under a bigger one.
Most schools will play within the division, but rarely play the schools outside the division unless conference schedules are adjusted as well. This will in turn lead towards the downfall of non-conference games if the same schedule length of only 12 games is left in place.
The trend towards the power conference also means a lack of geographic control. While originally the move to the Big East for Texas Christian looks good for them, they do not really fit with the rest of the schools geographically. In a time where money is tight for most institutions, one would think that keeping travel costs low would be a necessity, but with big conferences over big portions of the nation, those costs will skyrocket.
The Good: Former Big East Schools Regain Rivalries
Miami, Virginia Tech and Boston College benefit the most from adding two more schools from the Big East. All three have former conference rivalries with Syracuse and Pittsburgh.
Even better is that Virginia Tech already had Pittsburgh scheduled as a non-conference opponent the next two seasons. This opens up a slot for adding another non-conference game. Tech also has good rivalries with both Syracuse and Pittsburgh in football.
Boston College truly benefits, as they are out on an island within the ACC being so far away from the rest of the conference. Prior to the proposed additions, the closest conference foe was Maryland.
The Bad: The Beginning of the Demise of the Big East
The Big East takes a major hit with the loss of these two institutions. Syracuse is a founding member of the Big East, and Pittsburgh joined the conference in 1982. While they add Texas Christian in 2012, the conference has lost five of its best programs to the ACC within the past seven years.
While the conference is reeling, it can still survive this blow if they start working on away to keep the rest of the conference from leaving for other conferences. While the Big East is a small conference in football, it is the big guy in men's basketball. A few of their basketball schools play football in FCS, including Villanova and Georgetown. The football side of things may want to start talking to these institution about making the jump to FBS as an option to saving the conference.
The Good: ACC Conference Protects Its Future
ACC has made sure it will not be a conference that falls by the wayside. With the rumors of expansion in the SEC with the addition of Texas A&M, many ACC schools were potential targets for the number 14. Clemson, Florida State, Miami and Virginia Tech were rumored targets for the SEC.
Before the applications by Pittsburgh and Syracuse were even thought of, ACC school presidents made the commitment to the conference by upping the buy-out for member schools to leave from $10-$15million to $20million.
The Bad: West Virginia and Texas Christian Sent into Limbo
With the Big East teetering on the brink of collapse, both the West Virginia Mountaineers and the Texas Christian Horned Frogs are scrambling to determine their futures within the Big East.
The West Virginia Mountaineers will loose their second major rival to the ACC in seven years. While West Virginia can still gain from the departures of Pittsburgh and Syracuse, they remain the only major football powerhouse left in the Big East.
Texas Christian is probably wondering if moving out of the Mountain West Conference is a good thing for them. With the possible break-up of the Big 12 Conference, the Mountain West could gain footing to join the elite conferences if they can grab some of the remnants of the Big 12. TCU really does not fit in the Big East, but because they are an automatic qualifier in the BCS, TCU was taking a big chance by joining the conference.
The Good: ACC Gains in Two Sports
While the addition of Syracuse and Pittsburgh is a good for the ACC football wise, it is even better for college basketball. Both Syracuse and Pittsburgh are powerhouses in college basketball and would be welcome additions to the Dukes and North Carolinas of the ACC.
The Big East in basketball needed to be brought back a peg because they literally ended up with half the conference in the NCAA tournament just based on numbers alone.