With the Oklahoma Sooners and Texas Longhorns getting most of the attention in conference expansion, Syracuse and Pittsburgh joining the ACC comes as a big surprise.
Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas have been linked to the Pac-12 since last summer during Larry Scott's first attempt at creating the Pac-16. New rumors have resurfaced in recent weeks about those schools leaving the Big 12, but any potential move has been far from imminent.
Syracuse and Pittsburgh joined the ACC less than 48 hours after the New York Times reported that both schools were in talks to join the conference. There has been speculation that the Big East could lose multiple schools to the Big Ten and/or ACC, but there wasn't an indication about any school leaving the conference so soon.
And now UConn may not be far behind in joining the ACC.
Unlike the Big 12, It would be premature to say that the Big East is on the brink. Despite losing two of its marquee members, the conference is still the best hoops power in the nation.
The Big East's future as a football conference may be in doubt, but there are still a lot of great basketball programs that could help keep it in business.
However, the losses for the conference are unlikely to stop at Syracuse and Pittsburgh, especially if the Big Ten starts getting proactive. Jim Delaney would likely go after the remaining schools in the post-Oklahoma and Texas Big 12 and some in the Big East.
The ACC has 14 members for now and is looking to go to 16 (Mike Krzyzewski and Roy Williams are all for it). Texas and Kansas (or UConn) could be the ones that bring them to that amount. That process could require more than two schools if the SEC is able to get a combination of Florida State, Virginia Tech or Clemson.
The conference recently raised their exit fee to $20 million, but that should do little to stop Mike Slive and the SEC from going after the Seminoles and Hokies. Slive could also look to the Big East for new members by going after Louisville and/or West Virginia.
If the ACC loses members in Tallahassee and elsewhere, John Swofford could go further north by getting UConn and/or Rutgers, if the Big Ten doesn't beat them to the challenge.
Maybe Notre Dame looks to finally join a conference or at least switch their affiliation for other sports.
There's countless possibilities that can happen and a lot of questions could be answered when the Oklahoma and Texas Board of Regents meet separately on September 19th. If the SEC, ACC and Big Ten all expand to 14 teams or beyond, the Big East could lose more than six current members by that point.
The losses could be made up by taking some of the remaining Big 12 members, but the additions of Baylor and Iowa State will do little to help the Big East remain relevant or even worthy of a BCS berth. Big East football is already bashed enough and may soon be even less relevant if that's possible.
What will become of TCU in the Big East? The Horned Frogs are set to join the conference next fall and could be on their way out before they get there. The conference they left for better opportunities, the Mountain West, seems to have better football prospects in the near future.
Even if Big East football does go down the same path of the Big 12 and Southwest Conference, TCU should have little trouble finding a new home. Maybe Larry Scott will come calling if the Longhorns do join the ACC.
An even bigger question is what will become of the non-football members of the Big East, The conference currently has enough depth to sustain as a basketball conference, but it's future as hoops power will take an even further hit once more schools inevitably leave.
That same level of dominance can't be salvaged by going after Big 12 leftovers and Conference USA members.
St. Johns, Georgetown, Villanova and other non-football members have to be worried about what will become of Big East Basketball. The conference would once again become just a basketball conference as it was in the 1980's, but it would not have the same reputation and prestige.
St. Johns, Georgetown and Villanova could save their basketball programs from playing in a lesser conference by pursuing the ACC as basketball-only members.
With Syracuse and Pittsburgh already on board and UConn seemingly on the way, the future of the Big East is in question and the ACC is benefiting from it.
John Swofford could continue to take advantage of the chaos and uncertainty by extending membership to other Big East basketball schools. The ACC has always been a basketball conference and would once again become the most dominant in the nation by extending invitations to St. Johns, Villanova and Georgetown.
The ACC would need to go after another basketball program in order to have an even total of 20. That could be done be going after Providence and Seton Hall. Marquette is a better program than both of them, but even Wisconsin may be just a little bit out of the range for ACC basketball.
Providence and Seton Hall haven't been dominate lately, but each program has had bright spots in their history and is a logical candidate, geographically, for expansion. The conference would probably go for Temple, but their unlikely to get the Owls without taking their football program as well.
A new 20-team ACC would instantly become the best basketball conference in the land. This conference could send a dozen teams to the tournament every year with national title contenders in Duke, North Carolina, Syracuse, UConn and Pittsburgh.
This would be in addition to other schools that have had Final Four winners or contenders in the past such as Wake Forest, Georgia Tech, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina State, St. Johns, Villanova and Providence or Seton Hall.
If UConn does become the ACC's 15th football member, the conference will still need one more school to reach 16. That void could be filled by Texas or Kansas.
The ACC/Big East hybrid could crown it's own national champion with the addition of the Kansas Jayhawks.
A 16-team basketball conference once seemed excessive. Twenty basketball members in the "superconference" era seems to make more sense than the geographically based conference names.
St. Johns, Georgetown and Villanova could stay in the Big East and become the dominant trio in a new look basketball-only conference. Or they could pursue membership in what will become the best hoops conference in the nation.
If they do so,
Tobacco Road will lead to Madison Square Garden for a
national conference championship game.
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