by Mike Potter
This whole realignment/expansion mess really has its roots back 20 years ago, when Arkansas left the old Southwest Conference to join the SEC along with South Carolina, which left behind any ideas of rejoining the ACC.
That prompted the ACC to grab Florida State, for the big Texas schools in the Southwest to join the old Big Eight and become a Big XII, leading to the eventual creation of Conference USA and prompting everyone to throw both geography and math out the window in the naming of Division I conferences.
But the Texas A&M move, which is going to result in some other unnamed school to also leave behind its old conference for the SEC, is probably going to start an avalanche of 10 or more schools switching leagues before things calm down again.
Some out there say the ACC is in trouble. I think it is not, as long as it quickly becomes proactive in expansion.
The three ACC teams which would seem to best fit the SEC are Florida State, Georgia Tech and Clemson. Any would be a big loss, but there is talk out there that the Universities of Florida, Georgia and South Carolina have taken a blood oath not to let any of them in. And so the speculation moves to Virginia Tech, which was so excited the day the Hokies were admitted to the ACC there was a campus celebration akin to what happens in the Triangle when somebody wins a national championship.
Maryland to the Big Ten? Ridiculous. And the most far-fetched “proposals” out there in the media have Duke or UNC or both leaving the conference they founded together for ostensibly greener pastures.
Not going to happen.
But to make sure it doesn’t, the ACC should expand soon and here is a sensible way to do it:
Invite Pittsburgh and West Virginia to join the conference as full members, and Army and Navy to join for football only, something the Midshipmen had allegedly asked about a few years back.
Not only would the moves add the “Backyard Brawl” to the ACC’s array of football classics, but would also bring in arguably the best football rivalry in the country. And it would restore big games that should always be played, like Navy-Maryland and West Virginia-Virginia Tech.
Put Navy and Pittsburgh in the Atlantic Division and Army and West Virginia in the Coastal, keeping their biggest rivals as obvious permanent rivals.
In come the Pittsburgh and New York media markets as well as the entire state of West Virginia.
And it would all make for 14-team basketball tournaments instead of 16, feats which could still be accomplished in four days if you ask our friends from the CIAA.
Some things are just too easy.