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According to Jim Williams, the Pac-12, or the pack of 4, will talk with the ACC about a merger, the ACC legal team feeling the additions of Stanford, California, Oregon State and Washington State could open the door for a better TV deal with ESPN.
Hey, if the Big Ten can have 18 schools, if the Big 12 can have 16 and the Pac-12 can have four, the Atlantic Coast Conference can have schools from the Pacific Coast, okay? That’s where we are with this.
Actually, nobody knows where we are with any of this because any future realignment (when, not if) is going to come on the whim of a television executive, because they’re the ones who are pulling the strings on all of this.
Williams also tweeted (X’d?) that any merger between the ACC and the Pac-12 would be a very long shot, as he also said the following schools, among others, have already filed paperwork for potential membership to the Pac-12: Colorado State, San Diego State, SMU, UNLV, Tulane, South Florida, Memphis, Boise State, Fresno State, Tulsa and Rice.
The truth is, Stanford and Cal are very attractive schools and any conference should be happy to have them. Washington State and Oregon State, of course, have long been the little brothers in their own states, yet both have had their own moments and have fine histories, with Oregon State poised to have a big football season, having been ranked No. 18 in the preseason coaches’ poll that came out on Monday.
And, really, if Phil Knight had decided to attend Oregon State instead of Oregon, who knows? Maybe it would have been Oregon State that jumped to the Big Ten.
On top of that, Stanford plays its annual rivalry game with Notre Dame each season. Of course, the ACC already has a Notre Dame presence in their conference, given the Irish’s membership of convenience. The constant travel, though, from both coasts to the other one, would certainly make this hypothetical a very, very long shot; but, again, never underestimate the power of greed.
Still, you have to believe the ACC is feeling antsy through this current climate, particularly given the rumblings coming from the Florida State and Clemson administrations.
The ACC was actually born of realignment and has existed on it throughout its history, as in 1953, Clemson, Duke, Maryland, North Carolina, NC State, South Carolina and, a few months later, Virginia told the Southern Conference to stick its bowl ban and became the charter members of the conference.
In 1971, South Carolina really let its big feelings get in the way by leaving the ACC to become an independent. The Gamecocks essentially went missing for the next 20 years until they joined the SEC in 1991. In 1978, the ACC finally added an eighth school when Georgia Tech left the Metro Conference to join.
Then in 1991, Florida State’s decision to also leave the Metro to join the ACC might have been the most important transaction in ACC history, as the Seminoles dominated in football for the first decade and won two national titles, finally giving the ACC a national player in the money machine of college football.
The ACC liked the football flavor because it pays, so it added Miami and Virginia Tech in 2004, then Boston College the next year, then raided the Big East once more by swiping Syracuse and Pittsburgh in 2011.
I believe it was at this point that then-Maryland basketball coach Gary Williams said the ACC had “sold our basketball soul for football.”
The following year, charter member Maryland became the first school to leave the ACC in the modern realignment era, and was quickly replaced by Louisville, with Notre Dame added to do that thing that Notre Dame does, which, of course, is to generate money.
The ACC was far more charming and certainly a more interesting conference when it was mainly known for its basketball. The ACC Tournament was annually one of the premier events in the nation.
ACC football wasn’t great overall on a national level, but it was good football, usually with Maryland, Clemson (national champs in ’81), North Carolina and NC State leading the way until Florida State arrived (and George Welsh arrived at Virginia); but with the advent of cable television, most notably ESPN, it was football that paid the biggest bills. Of course, football always has. It’s why the ACC was born in the first place.
So, the ACC sold out, just as Maryland would when it left for the Big Ten out of necessity due to previous financial mismanagement.
The same can be said of the old Big East, as that basketball conference in the day and the Big East Tournament, equaled, then surpassed the ACC as the best basketball conference and tournament in the nation. Yet, as soon as it sold out to football as well, Big East basketball as the country had come to know it collapsed and, in turn, the conference collapsed until its rebirth in its current form as a basketball conference.
It’s impossible to say what’s going to happen next with the ACC, but it is most certainly the Power Five conference that finds itself on the clock, even if not by its own design or doing. Something is bound to happen involving the ACC, be it adding schools or losing schools.
The only thing we do know is it will have nothing to do with basketball.
Mike Burke writes about sports and other stuff for Allegany Communications. He began covering sports for the Prince George’s Sentinel in 1981 and joined the Cumberland Times-News sports staff in 1984, serving as sports editor for over 30 years. Contact him at [email protected] and [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @MikeBurkeMDT