Who's at Fault for Bungling Expansion? Who Isn't?

StateFans Columnist Matt Lail Gives his Take on who is at fault for the recent troubles regarding ACC Expansion.

Regardless of what happens to the Atlantic Coast Conference -- whether it expands by one, two, three, four or none -- the façade of the league has been damaged. The league that has prided itself for eons as being "collegial" (are you tired of that word yet?) has shown its darker, edgier side as this whole expansion joy ride has been bungled.

And there are many at fault for bringing out the ACC's nasty side. The list of guilty parties reads like a bizarre "six degrees of separation" of John Swofford.

Florida State enters the league in the early '90s, and almost immediately the rumors fly that the Seminoles would like for the ACC to expand even more, looking, perhaps, south towards Miami. ...

After years of sending out feelers and approximately two years of talks, ACC Commissioner John Swofford officially gets the ball rolling, targeting -- primarily -- the University of Miami...

Miami then gets big-headed and decides it will be the one running the show. The Hurricanes insist that both Boston College and Syracuse must come along for the ride, or apparently no dice...

Unfortunately, BC doesn't have the courage or heart of Doug Flutie, and Syracuse doesn't have the, er, oranges, to stand up on their own and say, "You know what, Miami? We're good, thanks. We can make our own decisions." Instead, the two schools tag along for what appears -- momentarily -- to be a short process of switching conferences...

UNC and Duke aren't crazy about expansion, and after expressing early concerns, the two old rivals decide that maybe this idea of making more money and creating more scholarships and more opportunities for its students isn't really for them after all...

Virginia, feeling pressure from the governor and the legislature, then pulls a BC/Syracuse and concedes to higher powers instead of doing what would be best for UVa in the long run...

Virginia Tech collaborates with four of its other Big East cronies to sue the ACC - for allegedly attempting to destroy the Big East...

Then, just a short time later, the Hokies are considered a choice for the ACC, meaning the league may look at possibly four schools - instead of three - becoming members.

Depending on who and what you believe, this whole

expansion business -- one way or the other - would

have been completed much sooner if:

  • ACC administrators hadn't acted like it was a home run from the get-go; or
  • Miami hadn't insisted on bringing along their Northeastern buddies; or
  • BC and the 'Cuse had stood on their own merits; or
  • UNC and Duke had been straightforward from the beginning and not used stall tactics in the 11th hour;or
  • Virginia realized that what is best for it is to be in a super-conference -- sans VPI.

Unfortunately, none of those things happened, so we're stuck with an embarrassing escapade that has left the entire ACC and the Big East -- not just the schools listed above -- with black eyes. And despite this month-long debacle, it appears now that the ACC will in fact expand, but by just two schools - Miami and Virginia Tech - meaning the league will continue to have an odd-number of teams: 11. A compromise? Maybe. A debacle? You betcha!

Way early thoughts on Rivers

Wolfpack Capital Sports Network personality Tony Haynes is a gem to have calling State games. Anyone who listened to the Pack's baseball games this year learned just how versatile Haynes is on the mic.

But even with all of his radio duties, Haynes still finds time to contribute to NC State's website. And while you're never going to find anything critical (or, for that matter, truly objective) on that site, you can still find some good tidbits every now and then.

Case in point: on Monday, Haynes wrote a short summer piece about the impact NCSU QB Philip Rivers has had on both the State and ACC record books, and the damage Rivers could continue to do this year, his senior season. In his piece, Haynes noted that: "Oddly enough, despite his remarkable numbers, Rivers has never been named first team All-ACC, nor has he won player of the year honors."

Last year, Virginia quarterback Matt Schaub was named Player of the Year in the ACC -- and rightfully so. Schaub led the league in passing touchdowns with 28, completions and completion percentage, and he compiled a 4-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio. Conversely, Rivers passed for over 3,300 yards with 20 touchdowns. He even rushed for 10 scores -- the most ever by a Pack signal-caller. But in head-to-head match-ups, Schaub's Cavaliers beat Rivers' Wolfpack, 14-9, with Schaub tossing two TD passes. Nonetheless, I have this sneaky feeling that 10, 15 or 20 years down the road folks will look back and assume that Rivers was a player of the year in the league, and not remember who it was that beat him out. (Along those same lines, if you ask many people who was ACC basketball's player of the year in 1991, many non-NCSU fans would assume Duke's Christian Laettner won when in fact State's Rodney Monroe took home the honors. Laettner won the award a year later; perhaps that bodes well for Philip Rivers in '03.)

As for Rivers, he has put together a remarkable run at State. In three years, Rivers has passed for almost 9,000 yards, 61 touchdowns (good for third all-time in the ACC) and led State to 26 wins. He's been not just a tremendous asset on the field, but a terrific ambassador off. And no one realizes that more than his coach, Chuck Amato.

"I can't put into words how much Philip Rivers means to this team, this program and this university," Amato said earlier this year.

For as much fanfare as Rivers is getting these days - he's considered by many to be one of the frontrunners for the Heisman Trophy -- he wasn't exactly a household name coming out of high school. In fact, his home state schools, Alabama and Auburn, showed little interest in him. I must give credit to the one person who, seemingly before anyone else, noticed something in River's ability.

The first time I heard the name Philip Rivers was when he was a junior in high school, and I was working for The Wolfpacker. One of my fellow writers, Marc Rabb (a lifelong UNC fan, by the way), was an avid recruiting junkie and spoke weekly -- sometimes twice a week, it seemed -- with Rivers and his father, Steve. Marc raved about this kid from Alabama with the thick Southern accent and funky throwing motion.

"This guy's the real deal," Marc would say incessantly. Marc virtually became a State fan primarily on the anticipation of watching Rivers at QB. Marc, who would go on to become the sports information director at Gardner-Webb University, was on the money. Rivers may never win ACC Player of the Year (he's got one last shot at it), but he's already established himself as the real deal. And what a steal he's been for NC State.


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