The Long Haul

The most common reaction I've seen and heard over the past few days to the ACC raid on the Big East is: 'Enough Already!' Everyone from newspapers columnists to our devoted readers seem to be fed up with the whole expansion/conference issue.

In today's fast paced world, everything seems to be based on instant gratification. Fast food, drive throughs, and yep, the good ol' Internet have whetted our appetites for quick resolutions to our problems and desires.

Want some concert tickets? Order 'em online.

Need dinner for the family? Takeout from Bob Evans.

Resolve the current conference affiliations? Hold a vote...whooops!

No matter what our wishes to get this thing resolved, chances are it's going to drag on for many months. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if we're not talking about conference issues like this again next year. And maybe even the year after that.

Look at it this way. If the ACC can't garner enough support to hold a vote before June 30, that doesn't mean that their expansion hopes are dead. There's nothing to stop Miami, Boston College or Syracuse from announcing that they are going to continue to talk with the ACC about jumping to their league, which would neatly remove one of the major points of the lawsuit currently pending - namely, that they acted duplicitously and in secret to explore a conference jump.

Likewise, the Big East conference will also have to look at expansion to either head off future raid attempts or position themselves to maintain their automatic BCS berth and be in the picture when possible BCS changes are discussed after the 2005 season.

(As a side note, look for cries of "hypocrisy" from many columnists and pundits when the Big East begins their expansion efforts. 'How is this any different,' will be their cry, 'from what the ACC tried to do?' The difference, of course, will be that the Big East will not conduct their negotiations in secret, or in bad faith. But I don't expect many writers to be able to grasp that difference. We now return to our originally scheduled column.)

Taking the long view, the current ACC-Big East faceoff is merely round one in what promises to be a much longer war over conference power, BCS positioning, and, of course money. I'm not pretending to know how it will all shake out, although I do expect that the Big East will continue in its split format of football and non-football playing schools.

Even if the ACC can't find enough votes to make expansion a reality this time around, that's not going to bring their efforts to become a 12 team conference to a halt forever. That, plus the Big East's likely maneuvers, will kick off round two of this issue, with several more to follow as the dominoes of conference membership begin to fall.

So, if you're tired of all the talk, and want a resolution, I'd suggest that you order a pizza. Because that's the one thing that you'll likely get delivered quickly.

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