ACC Expansion: You'll Take It & Like It

Go ahead and get over it: Expansion is going to happen, and the Big 4 – Wake Forest, Duke, UNC and NC State – <i>will</i> be split up into separate divisions.

Go ahead and get over it: Expansion is going to happen, and the Big 4 – Wake Forest, Duke, UNC and NC State – will be split up into separate divisions.

Additionally, we won't be in the same division as UNC or Duke. Most likely, we will be in the same division as Wake Forest. Like it or not, that's how it's going to be, and there's nothing you or I can say or do to stop it. When it comes down to it, the ACC would rather preserve the entirety of the UNC-Duke rivalry (even though there isn't much of a rivalry between the schools in some athletic contests) before the UNC-NC State or Duke-NC State rivalry. Because the entire issue of expansion is about money, this shouldn't come as a surprise. It's to be expected; UNC-Duke creates more money. It has for the past 15 years, and it will until NC State gives everyone a reason to think otherwise.

To some end, the ACC has told us that tradition is nothing but an anchor, holding us back from the inevitable forward progress that will be made by adding the University of Miami, Boston College and Syracuse.

The fact is, the ACC is right. The advantages of adding Syracuse, Boston College and Miami far outweigh the disadvantages of what happens if we add the schools.

By adding the schools the biggest disruption is the tangling of a tradition that, in some places, is as thick as thieves. Gone will be the days of playing UNC twice each year in basketball and once in football. Gone will be the days of playing Duke twice each year in basketball and football. Gone will be the days of everyone in the conference faced with the exact same conference schedule as the other teams. Some teams will play Syracuse and Boston College while others may play Georgia Tech and Clemson. Obviously, this will be affected by the division alignments that will be decided upon after expansion. Because dividing the ACC geographically makes the most sense, it should go one of two ways:

ACC North

ACC South

 

 

OR

ACC North

ACC South

Boston College

Clemson

Boston College

Clemson

Duke

Florida State

Maryland

Duke

Maryland

Georgia Tech

NC State

Florida State

North Carolina

Miami

Syracuse

Georgia Tech

Syracuse

NC State

Virginia

Miami

Virginia

Wake Forest

Wake Forest

North Carolina

Another common complaint has been the increased travel costs, especially for non-revenue sports like wrestling or swimming & diving. Will it cost more for teams from the Deep South to travel to Boston and Syracuse each year? Of course it will. But it's not going to be an every-year occurrence for every sport. Remember, the scheduling problems will not just be a basketball and football issue. It will claim all the sports. And while the expenses for non-revenue sports will increase, they won't be so bad that athletic departments won't be able to make up for.

Because of the scheduling to places like BC and Syracuse, some have mentioned that athletes will not be able to attend class as much as before. This is an especially valid complaint for BC and Syracuse, who will be playing in a conference that features only one school north of Washington, DC. It's understandable that BC and Syracuse administrators/fans/coaches/etc. would be peeved about the situation. But it's not really understandable that Syracuse men's basketball coach Jim Boeheim would be so hard-headed about it all. Here's a sampling of some Boeheim quotes from the past few days:


"I don't see how this is going to help our football program. If we are stuck in a division with Florida State, Clemson and Georgia Tech, I don't think we are going to be playing in the BCS very much."

Is that right, Jim? How often are you playing in the BCS now? I guess playing in a division with Miami and Virginia Tech was making it pretty easy for the Orangemen to play in the BCS. I know Miami and VT probably laid down for the stunning Orangemen football program on numerous occasions, allowing for your total of 1 BCS births. Now that Miami is in the ACC, I'm sure they'll play better, giving you less than your normal 4% chance of making the BCS. Further analysis (and thinking on your part Jimmy B) would probably lead most to believe the division alignments mean Syracuse's division would be stacked with perennial football powers BC, Maryland, Virginia and Duke and UNC, or Wake Forest and NC State. I know that is an imposing roster of football programs, but being the division winner of these teams wouldn't be that daunting a task. Then, you could worry about facing the other division winner. This is why Jimmy coaches basketball and isn't your local university physics teacher.

"I don't think a move would kill basketball, but it would be very difficult to sustain our success. The ACC Tournament would never leave Tobacco Road. It never would be played in the Carrier Dome, and you'd have an extremely difficult travel schedule in the regular season as well. You're talking some very long road trips on a regular basis."

It will be difficult to sustain your success? Because the Big East has a bunch of pushovers – like UConn, Pittsburgh, Boston College, Notre Dame, Providence, Seton Hall and Georgetown – or because the ACC would be too tough? Please, Jim. You may not be a physics teacher, but you're a damn fine basketball coach and Syracuse is going to be a solid program as long as you're there, regardless of the conference affiliation. The ACC Tournament wouldn't leave Tobacco Road? I guess ACC Tournaments in Washington, DC (2005), Tampa (2007) and Atlanta (2009) are now being counted as Tobacco Road tourneys. And I'd bet my house that the ACC will schedule either the 2011 or 2012 tournament at Madison Square Garden, the FleetCenter, or somewhere in the northeast, where BC and Syracuse would have a distinct fan advantage. Of course it won't be played in the Carrier Dome. It won't be played at the Dean Dome, or the RBC Center, or Cameron Indoor either. And now you're worried about road trips for your young athletes? Since when did anyone begin worrying about the academics involved here? I thought we were all under the just make the grades so you can play silent agreement these days. Now you want to get sanctimonious on us? Save it. And since when did you start complaining about Miami's road trips and scheduling problems being in the Big East? Oh, that's right; you don't give a rat's ass.

And then he says this regarding the University of Miami:

"As a conference, we've helped them become the No. 1 football program in the country and they've improved their basketball program by being in our league. I think they need to remember that."

That's right Jim, you sorry pushovers in the northeast are what has helped Miami become the top dog. It's not like they accomplished anything before they became a member of the Big East in 1992. The national titles they won before that were flukes, and the ones they earned afterwards were the result of perennial powerhouse-football programs like Syracuse and Rutgers. At least you're consistent on your feelings about your own school's football program. Does your boy Paul Pasqualoni know that you think his program is this awful? And you've improved Miami's basketball program how? By playing better teams, attracting more fans and selling more tickets? I think I understand now. Earlier you said Syracuse football wouldn't fare well against better programs like Clemson, GT and FSU, but it's helped the Miami basketball program to play against better opponents on a more frequent basis? Is talking out of both sides of your mouth always this big of an issue to you?

Among the advantages, and the one thing that the ACC has in its eyes, is the increase in conference revenue. For starters, an ACC Football Championship Game will emerge, possibly bringing in $10M per year. Additionally, it should be expected that the conference will place more schools in the NCAA Tournament each year than what it is now. With two divisions, there's no reason the ACC can't get six spots every single year. It would probably be an anomaly when the conference doesn't get six teams in the field. Perennial tournament teams Duke, UNC, Maryland, and Syracuse will probably be there every year anyway. Getting two more teams in really shouldn't be that difficult, especially if NC State and Wake Forest are playing in the ACC South against Clemson, GT, Miami and Florida State every year. More teams, along with two divisions, also means more bowl game revenues, quite possibly a second BCS team, handing the conference another $11M. The chances for a second BCS team could increase after 2006 when the Big East is dropped as a BCS member. The range of revenue here is astounding and could be somewhere around an extra $15M dollars for the conference. But the most money will come in the form of increased TV rights contracts for football and basketball.

Presently, the ACC sells the TV rights for football to Raycom Sports for $25M per year. Adding the TV markets of New York City (#1 in the country), Boston (#6), Miami (#17) and Orlando (#20) could increase the television contract by as much as $25M, although that sounds a little far-fetched to me. Adding the same markets to the $32M basketball contract has been projected to add as much as $12M to the contract. But it makes more sense to me that the basketball contract could be worth more than that. Adding high-quality programming to high-basketball-demand areas like the northeast would seem to be more valuable than the $12M projection. The contracts alone could add enough money to the conference that each team gains money by expanding from nine to twelve. Throwing in the football championship, bowl revenue and NCAA Tournament revenue, and every school is able to pay off their budget much easier. Even Syracuse, Boston College and Miami struggle to profit anything from their athletic department:

Revenues & Expenses During 2001-02 Academic Year

School

Revenues

Expenses

Profit / Loss

Boston College

$32,137,495

$32,931,498

-$794,003

Miami

$22,697,731

$24,109,259

-$1,411,528

Syracuse

$38,458,514

$38,344,825

$113,689

Clemson

$35,162,039

$32,324,285

$2,837,754

Duke

$16,073,590

$20,661,405

-$4,587,815

Florida State

$32,529,988

$28,168,004

$4,361,984

Georgia Tech

$30,567,357

$31,392,170

-$824,813

North Carolina

$30,793,235

$21,223,716

$9,569,519

NC State

$19,066,332

$10,752,476

$8,313,856

Maryland

$34,650,662

$34,650,662

$0

Virginia

$35,067,418

$34,437,275

$630,143

Wake Forest

$23,967,121

$23,648,812

$318,309

Financially, expansion makes sense. Every school benefits, but it has to be something that behooves the desired universities. Because of the Big East's many structural problems, it is more than desirable for these schools to want to be part of the ACC. Do they lose the traditions they worked so hard to create? Yes, especially in the case of Syracuse and Boston College. Both worked hard to create the prowess of the Big East, making it attractive for a school like Miami – but not as attractive as the revenue-sharing structure of the ACC.

Nothing beats the administrative heart like the bottom line.

Another point to consider is that all of the expansion griping could get louder if the division alignments go as some "insiders" have speculated:

ACC Division I

ACC Division II

Boston College

Clemson

Maryland

Duke

Miami

Florida State

NC State

Georgia Tech

Syracuse

North Carolina

Virginia

Wake Forest


If this happens, there may be a few heart attacks in the Raleigh area, and the ignorant cries of "Yankee" from those who have somehow forgotten the Civil War ended in 1865. Either way, we will be separated from our most intense rivalries. However, that doesn't mean it isn't the best decision for the ACC.

Sometimes what's best for the individual isn't what's best for the whole. Whether or not this is a good thing for NC State as a university is unimportant compared to what's good for the ACC as a conference, and that's what we have to remember ... or something like that.


Pack Pride Top Stories