Too much ($$$) at stake to bypass ACC

It‘s as predictable as rainfall in South Florida in May: Beyond all reasons the University of Miami sees a future filled with a lot of $$$ and more $$$ as the main incentive in jumping from the Big East and landing in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

A Hurricanes' move, along with Syracuse and Boston College, to the ACC would likely be the final piece in developing a two-division, 12-team league with a conference championship game at the end of the season. That alone would add another $9-10 million of revenue to a conference that already generates about $25 million, in football, from television alone.

Add to that the possibility of the ACC, which pockets in the neighborhood of $13.5 million for placing one of their teams in a Bowl Championship Series game, making another $4-4.5 million if they nail down a second BCS bid, a likely scenario with UM and FSU potentially in the same conference.

Plain and simple: Miami, especially in football, generates lots of dollars and a switch to the ACC would fill the Canes' pockets even more. The ACC would also rid themselves of any concerns about losing money in the next television football deal they sign (the current one runs out after the 2005 season). Just imagine what a bargaining chip they would have on their side.

A UM football team that is one of most popular in the country, and a big draw almost anywhere they play, except maybe the Orange Bowl if Florida State isn't in town, and Boston College and Syracuse, who would give the ACC exposure in perhaps the biggest television markets in the nation (New York and Boston). Something the ACC hasn't had in the past and would benefit tremendously from. As if they weren't tough already, the recruiting wars in men's basketball between Syracuse, Duke, Boston College, North Carolina and others would become legendary. And spicy to say the least.

Miami shouldn't take all the tears being shed by Big East commissioner Mike Tranghese into account either. The Hurricanes don't owe anybody anything, especially the Big East. Miami was responsible for putting the Big East on the map in football, college sport's biggest source of income by the way, and two national championships later (1991, 2001 in the league) is still the life of the conference. Miami has dominated the Big East with a 63-10 conference record, not including six league championships, since coming on board in 1991 and has been the only consistent winner besides Virginia Tech in the league.

And for all the credit the Hokies and Frank Beamer get they have no national championship banners hanging anywhere. The same goes for Syracuse who tailed off in the mid-90's and has never won anything of significance. Pittsburgh has shown promise in football the last few seasons with Walt Harris in charge but the Panthers are still years away from becoming a perennial force. Boston College is always good but never great. And West Virginia is annually closer to the bottom than the top. Temple? Rutgers? Do those football programs even deserve recognition?

The Hurricanes bring in most of the money so you would think the Big East would accommodate them a little better and not shove the Owls and Scarlet Knights down their throats. Undoubtedly, UM is the football life-support of the Big East. Do they really think a football conference of Pittsburgh, Virginia Tech, West Virginia, Temple and Rutgers, should Miami leave, would survive? Please. The Big East would be left searching for replacements but no matter whom they came up, save Notre Dame, with losing UM would just be too much to overcome.

And just in case nobody has been paying attention Atlantic Coast Conference football is on the upswing with Maryland and North Carolina State just a few of the programs that appear ready to throw themselves into the national title picture on an annual basis. Now, throw in Miami, Florida State, Virginia and Clemson and you have the potential of a more balanced football conference than say the Big East. Big East football, aside from Miami of course, has built a history as of late of posting meaningless bowl victories, while Florida State and Georgia Tech have won national titles in the last 12 years.

And those wanting to make the argument that Miami gains nothing in basketball by moving to the ACC are obviously not looking at the entire picture. Granted Syracuse just won a national championship in men's basketball with Connecticut, Boston College and Pittsburgh also competing deep into the NCAA Tournament more often than not. But has anybody sat and wondered what UM joining the ACC would mean in terms of basketball.

The basketball tradition in the ACC was up and running even before the Big East was born. And with the Hurricanes calling Miami home (a big-event town if there ever was one) I would be willing to bet that the likes of Duke, North Carolina and Maryland would be better draws at the gate than Pitt, Syracuse and Connecticut have been in the past. And again Miami would also end up with a bigger slice of the pie thanks to a basketball TV deal that brings over $30 million into the ACC every year.

The Hurricanes basketball teams, especially the men, would instantly become more attractive with the Tar Heels, Blue Devils, Terrapins, Yellow Jackets, and Demon Deacons on the schedule at least once and possibly even twice. And that of course would leave less more for the Lehighs, Tennessee-Chattanoogas and Harvards of the world. That scenario probably won't please Perry Clark but the Hurricanes would be better in the long run from it.

Others would benefit as well.

Jim Morris' baseball team would be joining the best conference in the nation with FSU, Georgia Tech and Clemson, while women's sports like volleyball and soccer would also start getting more attention.

Supposedly Miami's athletic department has endured financial losses and struggled to make end's meet recently, including a reported lost of $1.72 million in 2001-02 even after winning the school's fifth national championship in football. Jumping to the ACC would alleviate that problem. And then some.

They've got my vote.

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