By adding Louisville, the ACC shows that it’s getting antsy

A good basketball conference gets even better, but is that enough? (AP photo)

A good basketball conference just got even better. In a football world, will that be enough? (AP photo)

Back in those distant days of September, the ACC believed it had fortified itself against all assaults. It had added Notre Dame, albeit with an asterisk, and by imposing a $50 million exit fee it had surely given any any member institution with wandering eyes cause for pause. But here it’s not yet December and the same proactive conference is having to scramble to play catch-up ball.

Last week Maryland, thumbing its nose at 60 years of tradition and that $50 million penalty, bolted for the Big Ten. If Maryland, which isn’t much good at football and has become ordinary in basketball, could be lured by the promise of bigger money elsewhere, what happens when some other league pitches serious woo at Florida State and/or Clemson?

By raiding the Big East for Syracuse and Pittsburgh, the ACC enhanced its already-exalted hoops profile, but basketball doesn’t pay the bills the way football does.  Television money for ACC football pales alongside the packages of most of the other big leagues. (If it didn’t, Maryland wouldn’t have leaped.) This only underscores the ironclad law of supply and demand: ACC football has been pretty putrid — the league went 0-for-4 against SEC opposition last weekend, and the conference’s Orange Bowl representative could be 7-6 Georgia Tech — and nobody is clamoring to air more installments of Boston College-Wake Forest.

Losing Maryland was such a shock to the ACC system that the league had to respond just to prove it could. On Tuesday it filed a lawsuit in the effort to make Maryland pay every penny of that $50 million.  On Wednesday it moved to add Louisville, which is great at basketball and good at football, and who cares if the only coast the Cardinals occupy is that of the Ohio River? Louisville was the best athletic program available, but U of L doesn’t quite fit the ACC’s high-falutin’ academic image. (Full disclosure: My dad was a graduate of Louisville’s dental school, and I was accepted by its law school.) Which tells us that the ACC is getting antsy.

It’s unclear who’ll be left when the Cardinals arrive in 2014. Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher railed against the inequities of the BCS, saying it was ludicrous that his once-beaten Seminoles were ranked only 10th last week, below five SEC schools. That was yet another warning flare that Florida State might not be long for the ACC. (On cue, FSU then lost at home to Florida. Memo to Jimbo: Beat somebody good before you pop off.)

And if FSU (or Clemson) goes, what will become of ACC football? Notre Dame has agreed to play five games a year against conference opponents while remaining an independent. If the ACC can persuade the Irish to join the league in football, too, its problems would be solved, or at least lessened. But Notre Dame is about to play for the BCS title, rendering that case exponentially harder to make.

ESPN
reports that the ACC considered both UConn and Cincinnati, two more schools desperate to bail out of the capsized Big East, but decided to go with Louisville first because, writes Brett McMurphy, “there is a sense among league presidents that the ACC can add more schools at a later date if (it) lost any other schools.” Not three months after enfranchising Notre Dame (with that major asterisk), the conference is already working on Plans B and C.

But Louisville won’t, and UConn and Cincinnati wouldn’t, do what the ACC needs most. None of those programs would bolster football in the way it needs bolstering, which brings us to the greater point:  There’s no football power apt to leave its current home — not Texas, not Oklahoma — for the prospects of making less money to play in a lesser conference. With the Big East in tatters, the Big Six of BCS leagues has been reduced to five. Unless/until the ACC convinces Notre Dame to come fully aboard, it can never hope to be more than the fifth-best conference in the the sport that matters most, and a distant fifth at that.

By Mark Bradley

116 comments Add your comment

GTT

November 28th, 2012
12:06 pm

If my Ga. Southern Eagles are really moving up, maybe it’ll be to the ACC where we can win the title every year.

GTT

November 28th, 2012
12:08 pm

Oh, and firsties again.

Buddy

November 28th, 2012
12:08 pm

They need to add the university of South Florida

Mark Bradley

November 28th, 2012
12:11 pm

Kudos again, GTT.

KD

November 28th, 2012
12:16 pm

GT to the Big 10.

GT Insider

November 28th, 2012
12:17 pm

Mark,

GT will be next to the B1G that was referred to in the statement by the ACC in your article above. That’s what they meant by if (when) other schools leave.

When the B1G took Maryland and Rutgers they sent a direct message that Delaney is not interested in football greatness. Delaney is interested in markets and money and people to spend money on the B1G network.

Now, turn to GT. Let’s run down the list of why’s the B1G will come after GT:

1. GT is in the AAU which is the fundamental requriement to become a member of the B1G. Only school in the South.

2. The Atlanta market. Probably the biggest reason the B1G will come after GT. Delaney wants the Southern market so bad he can’t stand it. He wants to be in the same market as the SEC whom he sees as his biggest threat. Plus the amount of B1G fans in Atlanta who will spend money on the B1G should they have a representative in the region.

3. Bud Petersen comes from Texas AM. He’s been brought up under Big 12 football and he likes and respects that B1G and Big 12. So should the offer come around from the B1G, no doubt that Petersen would sign off. Not to mention some of the recruiting GT has to deal with would dwindle and more money would be provided for athletics also a plus for GT.

Those are the two biggest reasons why soon after the ACC championship game is played you will hear that GT is next to the B1G.

You don’t hear much now because it wouldn’t be right for GT talk to the B1G with the ACC championship game looming. But you will soon.

Your thoughts, Mark?

JAWS

November 28th, 2012
12:17 pm

“Pitching Woo…” I like it!! Here’s hoping FSU comes over to the SEC so maybe us south GA boys will have a shorter drive to Tallahassee to see a game every few years.

JAWS

November 28th, 2012
12:18 pm

To see the Dawgs, I should add

Hankie Aron

November 28th, 2012
12:19 pm

GTT and Buddy- Um ….yeah.

Mark Bradley's Lost Moustache

November 28th, 2012
12:20 pm

Why not boot Miss, Miss St. from the SEC?

GTBob

November 28th, 2012
12:24 pm

The ACC’s problem isn’t that it has been poor at football. It’s problem is that no one in the conference is a significant money draw. It doesn’t have a Texas, or Alabama, or Michigan to fall back on and the lower level ACC teams draw almost no money at all. Even if the ACC became a football powerhouse all of the sudden, it would not have nearly the same amount of money drawing power that the SEC, Big 10, Big 12, or Pac 12 have. Adding Louisville doesn’t really change that but Louisville was probably the best option the ACC had to replace Maryland.

FSU JOE

November 28th, 2012
12:26 pm

as a long time FSU fan i along with the seminole nation have came to the quick realization that jimbo fisher aint no bobby bowden, and last i saw on stubhub ACC championship tix 6 bucks apiece, not much to validate ACC football

Hankie Aron

November 28th, 2012
12:28 pm

Mark- Maybe it’s just me but wouldn’t things be a lot better for the ACC if they could have some teams that are good. Doesn’t winning football games eventually bring the money in like they want and keep teams from exiting stage right? As you duly noted, the 2 best ACC teams (Clemson and FSU) were both beaten at home by better teams from the SEC (South Carolina and Florida) and neither of those teams play in the SEC Champ game Saturday. They just need to a better job of recruiting and then the other dominoes would eventually fall their way.

Bark Madley

November 28th, 2012
12:29 pm

BM,
You failed to mention that Maryland HAD to leave the ACC…..they had essentially went bankrupt thank to their poor decisions. Their only options were to stop all sports programs OR leave the ACC and look for more money! Obviously they were going to choose the latter.

Louisville is a substantial upgrade over Maryland…..in sports. Which is really the only place conference affiliation is even worth talking about.

GTBob

November 28th, 2012
12:35 pm

Doesn’t winning football games eventually bring the money in like they want and keep teams from exiting stage right?

The Big 10 makes more money than anyone and they haven’t done anything in football in a while.

you can't fix stupid or Democrats or bulldogs

November 28th, 2012
12:36 pm

Clemson would not help the Big 12 in South. The Atlanta market is what the Big 10 or Big 12 will be after.

Jacket Fan

November 28th, 2012
12:40 pm

Agree with what you said, Mark, but an ACC tournament final four of UNC, Duke, Syracuse and Louisville would be pretty neat.

scott

November 28th, 2012
12:40 pm

mark,you mean you were accepted into lawschool and you wasted your life on something as trivial and unimportant as sports,what a shame

George Stein

November 28th, 2012
12:51 pm

Several factors conspired to hurt the ACC. First, the conference had the best media rights deal in 90’s, which was set to expire around 2008, if I recall correctly. In advance of that, they added three programs that had been great (the U), very good (VT), and consistent (BC). Unfortunately, only one of those programs held up their end of the bargain, and at the same time FSU also began to decline. When the media rights deal went into negotiations, the economy plunged. None of those issues were really within the league’s control.

The way to solve the issue isn’t with a $50MM exit fee. Rather, it is with the grant of rights.

Mark Bradley

November 28th, 2012
12:54 pm

Mark Blaudschun, formerly of the Boston Globe, wrote last week that the Big Ten considered Georgia Tech and Maryland but Jim Delany preferred the latter. Delany considers — this according to Blaudschun — Atlanta an SEC market.

GIVE ME A BREAK

November 28th, 2012
12:54 pm

Mark, how can you say with a straight face that Maryland leaving was a shock to the ACC? C’mon, man.

GIVE ME A BREAK

November 28th, 2012
12:54 pm

Mark, how can you say with a straight face that Maryland leaving was a shock to the ACC? C’mon, man.

GIVE ME A BREAK

November 28th, 2012
12:57 pm

Slow computer, please accept my apology.

Mark Dorkley

November 28th, 2012
12:58 pm

Mark,

Why doesn’t UGA win something..Tell Mark Richt that. 1982 was a longgggg time ago.

West is not Best

November 28th, 2012
1:00 pm

FSU & Clemson to Big 12, GT to Big 10 and ACC becomes the Big East of a few years ago…basketball conference.

GT Insider

November 28th, 2012
1:01 pm

I don’t buy that Mark. Don’t buy that not one bit.

JoeFan

November 28th, 2012
1:01 pm

Lots of rumors swirling that GT will announce a move to the Big10 soon after the completion of the ACCCG. Don’t believe that GTInsi der is off the “Mark” with his comments

GT Insider

November 28th, 2012
1:05 pm

If I were you, Mark, I’d go ahead and have a draft article ready for GT to the B1G. Tons of smoke around this to those privy to GT athletics.

IronJacket

November 28th, 2012
1:10 pm

I’m going to agree with GT Insider on this one… After the ACCCG, GT will be the next B1G target. Whether we pull the trigger…?

JoeFan

November 28th, 2012
1:13 pm

Atlanta is full of transplants many of whom are from B10 markets and could care less what SEC teams do. Its even more evident when you attend professional sporting events in the city. That’s an invitation to the the B10 not a deterrent. The guy from the Boston Globe is just hoping the B10 will rescue BC.

Mark Bradley

November 28th, 2012
1:26 pm

I don’t believe Tech is bound for the Big Ten. Someone who would absolutely know just told me there’s nothing to this latest rumor, which apparently bubbled up yesterday to the extent that Bud Peterson even heard it.

Dr. Warren

November 28th, 2012
1:28 pm

Would love to see Michigan and Ohio State making regular trips to Grant Field.

Twilb Dawg

November 28th, 2012
1:29 pm

“The ACC’s problem isn’t that it has been poor at football. It’s problem is that no one in the conference is a significant money draw. It doesn’t have a Texas, or Alabama, or Michigan to fall back on and the lower level ACC teams draw almost no money at all.”

Bob, I would argue that these are both problems for the ACC.

IronJacket

November 28th, 2012
1:39 pm

how many times have ya heard, “there’s nothing to this”….

George Stein

November 28th, 2012
1:42 pm

The ACC’s problem isn’t that it doesn’t have money programs. The issue is that the brand names have sucked for ten years now. FSU, Miami, Clemson, VT, and UNC are all programs that should be able to compete with anyone. Hell, even NCSU is a program with enough fan support that they should be pretty good. There’s enough room for a program like UVA or my beloved Jackets to rise up every now and then, too.

First thing’s first, though. The blue bloods have to start getting better.

Swoopin

November 28th, 2012
1:46 pm

As an AJC reporter you may like to address what this means for Tech. Not one mention except to kick dirt in our face for being the Coastal champ by default.

GT Joe

November 28th, 2012
1:47 pm

UMMM, anyone thought about where we would get the $50 million to bolt for the B1G?

Apparently not.

GT Insider

November 28th, 2012
1:49 pm

GT Joe,

Not hard. The same way MD will. A loan from the B1G from revenue for a few years until paid off. That’s how WVU did it when it left the Big Least and how Maryland it going to do it.

Chief

November 28th, 2012
1:51 pm

Chief say, when smoke – fire. Lot of talk in B1G land about GT.

walton

November 28th, 2012
1:53 pm

This wasn’t a fly by your pants decision. They didn’t just add UL on a whim. They had been considered and already vetted. I’m sure when MD didn’t vote for the new exit fee that the ACC knew they needed to have a backup plan. The fact is that athletic wise and financially, Louisville is an upgrade; it also expands the ACC market. UVA, VT, Duke are all draws in the DC area anyway. Of course, Louisville isn’t much of a market but UL has a lot more of their local market share than MD does. This move is a net positive for the ACC. For course, it doesn’t change the fact that the ACC is behind the SEC and BIG but the only thing that would change that would be pie in the sky changes like ND and Penn State coming on as full partners or something drastic like that.

CFB

November 28th, 2012
1:57 pm

Georgia Tech to the Big 10 is a rumor started by someone at Tech with a wish to escape the ACC. The Big 10 just added two media markets considerably larger than Atlanta — and Atlanta is, unquestionably, an SEC market.

George Stein

November 28th, 2012
1:59 pm

Except that the two markets the B1G added don’t give a flip about college sports, CFB.

Here we go again

November 28th, 2012
2:01 pm

Lets get Clemson and Free Shoes into the SEC East, let Mo join Tx A&M in the west, voila!

GT Insider

November 28th, 2012
2:01 pm

George Stein speaks the truth.

There are way more CFB fans per capita in Atlanta than either DC or NYC.

Prometheus

November 28th, 2012
2:02 pm

I believe L’ville’s move to ACC will hurt Ky BB. Pretty soon all good BB players will want to play in AcC, just like FB players are drawn to SEC. Play Against or for Duke , UNC, L’ville, Cuse, etc.

Bumblers

November 28th, 2012
2:06 pm

The A She She is HISTORY!!

JoeFan

November 28th, 2012
2:18 pm

Take a poll of metro Atlantans, see where they are from and where their allegiences fall. You will be that most hail from other states and cheer for teams not affiliated with the SEC. Also, Mark do you really believe that your inside source would let the proverbial cat out of the bag before he or she is suppose too?

Devil's Advocate

November 28th, 2012
2:20 pm

GT Bob just can’t grasp reality. We all know how much he loves to discredit UGA but now he’s saying the B1G hasn’t done anything lately.

OSU and Wisconsin have been quality programs for the past decade. Granted, Wisconsin is a little down from the Alvarez days of almost always finishing 10+ wins. Michigan State has been solid lately. Penn State was flirting with a return to respectability before the Sandusky thing broke. Michigan is moving back up. Nebraska just joined and has been a winning program.

Don’t forget that OSU was the whipping boy for 2 of the SEC’s 6 BCS championships in a row. The B1G, B12, and PAC-12 are all clawing for #2 behind the SEC with the ACC a distant fifth, but at least they aren’t the Big East!

GTBob

November 28th, 2012
2:21 pm

The problem is the ACC is a terrible product and my Yellow Jackets are just dreadful to watch.

TaterSalad

November 28th, 2012
2:23 pm

Let’s be honest, the ACC will never reach the heights of the SEC in football. But, by adding UConn, Cincinnati, and eventually Notre Dame, it will be respectable. The beauty then lies in that it will be heads above EVERY other conference in basketball. The conference will absorb the Big East’s share of the football market and nearly all of the basketball market (and every other notable college sport).