Huge shakeup in progress in big-time college sports; ACC needs to act yesterday or get left behind | Sports

Huge shakeup in progress in big-time college sports; ACC needs to act yesterday or get left behind

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The musical chairs game in big-time college football has begun.

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The Associated Press reports today that Big 12 member Colorado is the newest member of the Pac-10 Conference, while numerous published reports are saying that Nebraska will leave the 14-year-old Big 12 for the Big Ten on Friday.

It’s also out there in numerous places that the Pac-10 also wants Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State to stretch its membership to 16, while the now even more oddly-named Big 10 also wants to go to 16 whether or not Notre Dame is in the package.

As the old expression goes, the Rubicon has been crossed. And it’s time for the Atlantic Coast Conference to move quickly or be left behind as the stage may be set for four 16-team conferences, and four only, to get their champions into a future three-game playoff for a football National Championship.

Orangebloods.com, which covers sports at the University of Texas, has been better than anyone at covering this big picture in recent days. The website had reported earlier that Notre Dame had been given first option to join the Big Ten, with the condition being that the Irish would be the only invite for the time being. But barring some strange goings-on at the University of Nebraska’s Board of Regents meeting on Friday, Notre Dame will no longer have such an option.

Here’s what I think the ACC should do, with the answer due at noon on Monday: invite Notre Dame to join, with the condition that the Irish bring along any three other new members of their choosing for the 2011-12 season as long as those schools have played 10 seasons in the Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly Division I-A).

If the Irish say no, immediately invite Connecticut, Pittsburgh, Syracuse and West Virginia to join the ACC. That grouping, which is probably more likely, adds four new states and renews old rivalries as well. It would facilitate two eight-team divisions in football, with those likely new toll booths along the North Carolina-Virginia line the border.

It would allow for four four-team subdivisions in basketball, with the assurances that the Old North State’s “Big Four” of Duke, UNC, N.C. State and Wake Forest could renew their twice-a-year rivalries in men’s and women’s hoops.

It would make Madison Square Garden an excellent alternate site for the ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament, and it would bring the best women’s basketball program in the country into an already very strong conference.

I can’t think of a sport in which defense is allowed in which time and space are not essential ingredients, and this whole decision is about sports. The ACC has to act now. Right now. There may be 20 or more Division I schools switching conferences by July 4, and the local league can ill afford to hesitate.

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