Will the ACC be calling on Louisville?

With the conference realignment train rolling once again, there are plenty of questions surrounding the University of Louisville athletic program and its future. U of L football coach Charlie Strong and men's basketball coach Rick Pitino both met with the media on Monday and were asked about realignment.

Maryland has left the Atlantic Coast Conference and is headed to the Big 10, while it appears Big East member Rutgers is right behind them.

So, the conference realignment chatter has heated up again.

But what's the next move? The ACC is expected to act swiftly to replace Maryland but what school the conference will turn to is uncertain.

Several national media outlets, including ESPN and CBSSports have mentioned both Connecticut and Louisville. According to Jon Wilner of the San Jose (Calif.) Mercury News, UConn could be headed to the ACC as soon as tomorrow.

"What source do you believe?" one insider said. "At this point, I'm not even sure. It's happening so fast and there's not many people who know the next step."

ESPN's Brett McMurphy reported that an ACC source told him that "the ACC hasn't approached anyone about replacing Maryland," as of Monday morning.

It appears the leader in the clubhouse for the spot in the ACC is UConn, which has the Hartford-New Haven market that ranks No. 30 with nearly 1 million TV households. The Huskies have perhaps the best women's basketball program in the country and have won three men's national titles, although UConn is ineligible for this year's men's NCAA Tournament because of its Academic Progress Rate scores.

One perceived sticking point is academics and UConn is ranked No. 63 in the US News & World Report rankings of best colleges in the U.S., which would rank the Huskies behind eight current ACC schools. Maryland is No. 58.

Louisville, which won 10 Big East titles last school year, is ranked No. 2 in men's basketball, No. 7 in women's basketball and No. 18 in football. The Cardinals also have ranked teams in men's soccer and volleyball and will in baseball.

But Louisville only ranks No. 48 among TV markets with 670,680 households and the school ranks No. 160 on the US News & World Report list. There is no current ACC school lower than No. 106 on the list.

At this point, there's nothing certain about Louisville's future.

U of L athletic director Tom Jurich isn't talking to reports and mainly because right now there's nothing to talk about.

But on Monday afternoon, the two highest profile coaches at U of L did speak on the subject Both were asked at their weekly news conferences and each had some interesting points, with Rick Pitino's being more noteworthy and lengthy.

U of L football coach Charlie Strong, whose team will go to a BCS bowl with two more wins this season, said he tries "not to get caught up in all of that."

"I know this, our AD (athletic director) and our president are going to put us in the best position," Strong said.

Strong said he feels like no matter what teams go where that U of L has a "complete" program of sports and can compete in any league.

"We are so successful at some point somebody is going to turn around and look at Louisville and say, ‘Look at what they're doing,' " Strong said. "Or maybe they are afraid to let us in for what we're doing, who knows?

"I guess you have to look at what are they looking for — and I have no idea what they're looking for — but we have a lot to offer."

Pitino said the latest round of expansion, "caught me off guard" and when asked what it meant for Louisville he said, "I really don't know. I would be guessing."

While saying several times that "I want to coach basketball in the Big East," Pitino said he knows U of L has plenty to offer other conferences.

"I haven't ever seen a school with so much to offer with so little interest from people," Pitino said. "The SEC should be after us now, the ACC, the Big Ten. (Louisville) is the greatest jewel in all of college athletics.

"I haven't ever seen a school with so much to offer with so little interest from people."

When asked specifically about the ACC, Pitino said U of L should be the first school that league thinks about when it makes a call.

"I can figure it out from a TV market standpoint," Pitino said. "But you gotta understand, (in Louisville) every TV is on (college sports.)"

When asked if the Big East can remain viable in the conference landscape, Pitino said "I don't know."

"I don't think we have much of a choice, so it better be viable," Pitino said. "Some of us don't have choices. . . . The danger of it all is the Catholic schools don't get fed up with all of this and form their own basketball league.

". . . Life has changed in a hurry for all of us."

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