AJ's Monday Musings

To expand or not to expand. What will the Atlantic Coast Conference do?

Better yet, what would you do?

Seemingly every newspaper from New England to the Florida Keys has covered the possibility of the ACC adding one to three schools – all from the Big East – in an effort to bolster its strength in football and perhaps hold a title game. The scenario(s) appear to only be financially motivated and with little regard to the many traditions that have given the ACC a charm the other five power conferences struggle matching.

Not only would ACC basketball be altered as we know it, especially its 50-year practice of playing a double-round robin schedule. If the league grows to 12 schools and splits into two divisions, three conference mates would be missing from each football schedule every fall.

Furthermore, with the likelihood that Wake Forest wouldn't join its three in-state brethren in the same division (sources say there is no stipulation Wake would be paired with the other Big Four in exchange for a pro-vote on expansion as some have suggested), Demon Deacon fans can forget about yearly visits from North Carolina, Duke and N.C. State. Based on a rotating schedule for football, State and UNC might not travel to Winston-Salem but once every four years or so.

Yet, expanding could also mean a major financial windfall for the league. By adding Miami the ACC will gain one of the top five programs in the nation and get on television in southern Florida more often. The Hurricanes will significantly enhance the value of the conference's next TV contract – current one expires after the 2005 campaign - and mostly guarantee the schools not located in Florida will get either Florida State or Miami on campus every year. Adding Syracuse and Boston College would add depth and put the league in television markets in the northeast.

Not expanding could also be a problem. There is a sentiment at several schools and among some observers that staying put could frustrate FSU to where it considers another home, which might trigger a defection by Georgia Tech, which entered the ACC in 1979, and Clemson, a charter member 50 years ago. There is no need to articulate how disastrous that would be.

It's obvious there are plenty of positives and negatives to expansion, and most of you have read in-depth coverage regarding both sides. Personally, I have come to accept the need for a 10th school, but not three more, especially if located in Boston and New York.

If the ACC made the case adding three teams is essential for survival I would tolerate adding Miami and Virginia Tech for starters, and then try to pry away South Carolina from the Southeastern Conference or another school preferably in the southeast and below the Mason-Dixon line. USC wouldn't likely be admitted or want to come, and there simply doesn't appear to be a viable 12th school that meets my requirements. As it stands, I don't want the league to grow to 12.

I could care less about an ACC championship game for football. I don't believe it will bring in the kind of cash that has been reported. A Miami-Virginia title game in 35-degree Charlotte might draw 38,000 fans and probably get a lousy TV time on ABC or ESPN (like 11 a.m. on championship day). Empty seats would further damage the league's reputation, one I feel is wrongly perpetuated too much by the league's own fans and media.

FSU and Miami would draw well, especially in Orlando or Tampa, but as members of the same division they won't meet for the title because the TV networks will want to guarantee a Miami-FSU game every year as part of the deal. And, if the Big XII only brought in $6 million with last year's title game, it's hard to imagine the ACC doing better.

Plus, if the ACC goes to 12 schools the Big Ten will likely add a 12th member and have a title game as will whatever becomes of the remaining Big East schools and their probable merger with Conference-USA. Where will the money come from to support three new title games?

I think adding Miami will benefit the league more. The ACC will dominate the television markets from Baltimore to Miami, will work out a generous new TV contract for football, and if the league gets two BCS bids it will be shared in slices of 10 rather than 12. And, a double round-robin basketball schedule could still be played.

Now, many of you have recently posted your feelings on IC's message boards, so this week's question won't ask your thoughts on expansion. Instead, I will ask you to offer in short detail the future of the ACC in 2007 if it does NOT expand. I will select one or more e-mails to print in next week's Musings. Please send e-mails to: totlsprts@aol.com.


I received more than 60 responses to last week's question: Should there be a line drawn between what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior for coaches? And if so, where should that line be. If not, why?

Most of you made excellent points, and while I wish I could post 25 or 30 of those e-mails, I instead chose three. So here they go:

From Robert Schneider, class of ‘96

There are three things that should come into play when a decision has to be made regarding hiring or firing a coach. Were college students involved, did the university pay for any of the questionable activities, and is this a pattern?

From what I heard about Price, he went to a strip club and a woman ran up $1,000 on his hotel bill. If he did not take students to the strip club and he did not use a university expense account to pay for these charges, then I don't necessarily think this one incident should cause him to get fired.

Larry Eustachy is a different story. His actions did involve college students. Incoming freshmen basketball players at Iowa State are going to have a lot of social experiences where some good judgment is needed.

If your coach gets hammered and is kissing co-eds at a frat party, then he obviously cannot be relied upon to help his student-athletes make wise decisions. His later admission that he is an alcoholic and is trying to get help indicates that this could become a pattern.

With respect to Phil Ford, arguably the best and smartest point guard to play in the ACC, the one area that is concerning is the DWI on a recruiting trip. He acted irresponsibly while acting on behalf of the university.

My job involves travel. If I were to get a DWI, I can say that I would be more likely to get fired if the DWI occurred on a business trip. The tough part is how long to hold that against him. I certainly would not hire Phil Ford at this time as a head coach, because of his DWIs, but I do think he deserves a shot at being an assistant coach.

Roy Williams could gradually increase Phil Ford's interaction with the athletes and his overall responsibilities as he proves that he can be a positive role model. Gaining complete trust from Roy Williams might even provide an opportunity for Phil Ford to become a head coach and build his own program.

From Richard Archer, Jr. of Rockwell, N.C.

On the subject of coaches responsibility to represent the school they work for...the bar should be set high because they are working with college students and approaching high school students as young as 15 years old. They should be able to say that they will not ask a student to behave in a way that they themselves would not do. Anything less than that should be totally unacceptable.

From Wayne Killian of Wilmington, N.C.

I definitely think a line should be drawn between what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior for coaches. But I'm not smart enough to figure out where the line should be drawn.

For example, I don't think if I were sitting down to draw up some kind of list to demonstrate "acceptable" vs "unacceptable" behavior, it would have ever entered my feeble mind to say it's unacceptable for a head coach to allow his team to quit and not play the last two regular season games simply because I would never have thought it was even a remote possibility that any head coach in the world would ever do that. But, I would have been wrong.

I know, as a life long Tar Heel fan, I want UNC coaches to be held to a standard that is well above what appears to be the standard in many places. For example, I'm delighted that we never had (at least in my recollection) characters like Jerry Tarkanian, Bobby Knight, Jan Van Breda Kolff, Jim Harrick or even Jim Valvano as H.C. in Chapel Hill.

Although I hate to lose, and want to win every game, I would rather go 0-28 (or 0-12 in football) rather than have someone who is going to be an embarrassment to the University of North Carolina.

Senior writer Andrew Jones is in his seventh year with Inside Carolina. He also covers the ACC for the Wilmington Star-News/Morning Star and can be reached via e-mail at: totlsprts@aol.com.

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