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Stanford, California and SMU are trying to join the Atlantic Coast Conference, with Stanford reportedly willing to join at no cost for the first several years. The ACC has taken multiple votes on the matter over the past week but no progress has been made toward flipping the one vote the three schools need to become members.
The four schools voting against the inclusion are Clemson, Florida State, North Carolina and NC State. The ACC seems to be interested, though, as it keeps conducting votes given the majority of the schools in the conference are voting in favor of the expansion. This week would seem to be critical in any kind of resolution as the college football season is about to begin, though, clearly, the expansion would not take place this year.
As for Stanford being willing to join the ACC on the cheap, understand that if any school in the country can afford to do so it’s Stanford, the second wealthiest university in the country, according to the Wall Street Journal, behind only Harvard. It is also helpful to understand that the Stanford endowment is at least $38 billion.
Cal and SMU would also be happy to join the ACC at a discount as both are filthy-wealthy universities as well, with the SMU athletic boosters being notoriously wealthy and just as notoriously eager to spend it on Mustang athletics, as we remember from the infamous Pony Express days that led to SMU football receiving the NCAA death penalty. Yet West Virginia was not up to the ACC standards …
Geographically, of course, none of this makes sense, but anymore, what conference does, geographically or numbers-wise? As we asked two weeks ago, if the Big Ten can have 18 schools and the Big 12 can have 16 schools, why shouldn’t the Atlantic Coast Conference have teams from the Pacific Coast?
The ACC is struggling right now; it’s on the brink for a number of reasons, the most notable one being the expansions of the SEC and the Big Ten. The ACC is a high-minor league now; it’s no longer in the upper echelon of conferences. It’s in the bottom two with the Big 12, because the Big Ten and the SEC are the two superpowers. Yet the Big 12 is in far better standing than the ACC is.
Of course, most of this has been of the ACC’s doing, so cry not for the lords of Tobacco Road. Their greed and their holier-than-thou existence for decades, their utter disdain for those they deem to be inferior, including charter schools of their own conference, has helped put them in this situation, And, oh, yes, it was the ACC in all of its megalomania that pretty much destroyed the Big East Conference, and for what? Not very good football and a remarkably stupid and weak television contract with ESPN because of the lack of quality of ACC football.
The beauty of it all for those of us who are delighted to have washed our hands of the ACC, is that most programs in the conference are not happy at all with the ACC media deal that lasts for another 10 years. And the most un-delighted members of the conference are the two legitimate football schools in the conference, Clemson and Florida State, whose presidents have spoken openly about how far behind in the money chase their schools are, and how the possibility of leaving the ACC for another conference is genuine.
One way for the ACC to try to appease Clemson and Florida State would be to convince one of them to vote to allow Stanford, Cal and, possibly, SMU in, so when they join for a discount, it will enable the ACC to increase revenue for both Clemson and FSU because of the increased revenue that will be coming from ESPN.
Hard to say if it would do any good, though, because Florida State, in particular, just seems to want out; and Clemson likely isn’t far behind in that thinking.
As for Stanford, it has some of its most famous alumni (Condoleezza Rice, Tiger Woods to name two) lobbying both the ACC and Big Ten because it is imperative for Stanford to remain in a power conference to help its recruiting, which is as top-notch as the school itself, a chance to be a player again in football and for its Olympic sports, which Stanford prides itself on athletically as much as anything.
Stanford’s preference is actually said to be the Big Ten, but with Southern Cal, UCLA and now Oregon and Washington in the fold, the West Coast footprint for the conference could be set. The Big Ten would like to get into the South with its next expansion, but it would also love to have Notre Dame.
One way or the other, bet Florida State will leave for another conference; Clemson, which is a charter member of the ACC (the way Maryland was), seems pretty antsy to get out as well.
The feeling here is Stanford is using the ACC for leverage, because the ACC is on very choppy waters.
Stanford is going to benefit from all of this in the end, because that’s what Stanford does. It just appears the ACC is in way over its head at this point, and sometimes, that’s just the sublime beauty of karma.
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