Get Your Apps in Now: The ACC Bus Is Filling Up

Posted by rtmsf on September 19th, 2011

John Swofford must feel like the prettiest girl in school on this glorious Monday.  Not only did he receive a huge heap of slobbering attention from two of the more attractive gents in his class over the weekend (Mr. Pittsburgh and Mr. Syracuse), but like any good future Junior Leaguer, he’s letting everyone in the hallways know that he has numerous other options.  On Sunday during the announcement of two more Big East schools joining the ACC, Swofford alluded to the fact that a “double-digit” number of universities had already submitted applications to the ACC.  It’s a widely known secret that one of those applications hails from Storrs, Connecticut, but news released today begins to unravel who those other schools might be.  Would you be surprised if one of them doesn’t even have a major football program?  You shouldn’t:

Villanova is Confirmed as Another ACC Applicant (A. Lyons/Getty)

ACC Commissioner John Swofford said during a teleconference Sunday the league received more than 10 applications from schools hoping to join the league. Orlando Sentinel sources confirmed multiple Big East members applied to join the league, including Villanova.

That’s right.  The rats are all fleeing the sinking ship known as the Big East Conference, and even schools with no FBS (I-A) football programs are taking their shots.  VU, coming off a national semifinalist season in 2010,  has an excellent FCS (I-AA) football program, but it would seem a major leap of faith on the part of any BCS-level conference to pull a burgeoning program out of its hat when there are so many others already established.  Still, it clearly shows that schools are scrambling for anything right now, fearful of being relegated to the also-ran conferences that will weigh down the entire school’s reputation and cachet throughout the collegiate sporting landscape.

So who else might have sent its application into 4512 Weybridge Lane in Greensboro over the last 72 hours?  Let’s play speculation theater:


  • Pittsburgh (accepted)
  • Syracuse (accepted)
  • Villanova – an unlikely choice when compared with other more established football programs.  If Villanova were already FBS-eligible, maybe, but it’s still a smaller school more like Wake Forest and Duke than it is like Pittsburgh and Syracuse (or UConn and Rutgers, see below), and the latter are the kinds of institutions most valuable in this environment.  A move to the ACC is quite unlikely unless multiple scenarios for the ACC fall through (and even then, the league is more likely to stick at 14).


  • Connecticut – unofficial but the writing is on the wall for both an application to have been submitted, and probable ACC acceptance if Swofford’s home runs (Texas/Notre Dame) do not work out.  It ties up the northeastern/NYC market so that the ACC dominates the college sports landscape from Boston to Miami.  Also, Jim Calhoun likes it.
  • Rutgers – few ACC fans like this idea, but again, it’s highly likely that the application has been submitted and RU is likely next in line to be accepted as in the case with UConn.  Even though they’re not a great program in much of anything, it shores up the NYC area by claiming the biggest schools on all three sides of the metropolis.
  • Louisville – at the end of all of this commotion, Louisville along with Kansas might be the two most storied sports schools left out.  The Cards would kill themselves to get an invitation to the Big Ten or SEC, but that’s rather unlikely in both cases.  Would UL have pre-emptively reached out to the ACC in the hopes of keeping their dreams alive?  Possibly, although from an ACC perspective, accepting the Cards doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense with its other options on the table.
  • Cincinnati – probably destined to join the revamped Big 12 or a scaled-down Big East — much like Louisville, but in an arguably worse position.
  • West Virginia – this one is not a very good cultural or academic fit with the ACC, and it’s widely speculated that the SEC will have its eyes on the Mountaineers anyway.  Therefore, we think it’s unlikely that WVU has submitted an application (yet).  Certainly if the SEC cools, though, we’d expect to see WVU camping on Swofford’s doorstep with its trademark rifle in tow.
  • South Florida – the ACC isn’t big on commuter schools, and it already has two more decorated programs in talent-rich Florida.  We’d only see this as a serious consideration if Florida State were poached by the SEC (and good luck to Mike Slive with that new $20M ACC exit fee).
  • Georgetown – twenty-five years ago, the ACC would have taken Georgetown in a heartbeat, but the collegiate landscape has changed and the Hoyas are in an even worse spot from a football perspective than Villanova (their current coach is 8-45 in five seasons in the Patriot League).  There’s a decent chance they applied, but virtually no chance of acceptance.
  • Texas – the Longhorns are of course the biggest prize in all conference realignment, and last week it sounded as if the ACC had a legitimate shot at landing the school.  No longer, as it appears that both UT and its traditional rival, Oklahoma, are in serious talks with the Pac-12 (again).  If this falls through (again), though, expect John Swofford to offer UT the moon as an incentive to come east, perhaps in a package deal with…
  • Notre Dame – …the only other national school willing and able to write its own ticket, potentially offering some kind of hybrid deal where the UT and ND football teams are only “associate” members who will not play full schedules so that they can keep their television deals intact and their football programs independent.  From an ACC perspective, even this hybrid approach would be a major coup — both schools have the coveted academic and athletic commitment to all sports that the ACC wants in its schools, and it would position the league as a major voice within college sports for decades to come.

Of course, all of this is probably going to be outdated within minutes of its publication.  That’s the reality we’re facing with this stuff right now.  Would anything really shock anyone at this point?

rtmsf (3998 Posts)

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3 responses to “Get Your Apps in Now: The ACC Bus Is Filling Up”

  1. Matt B says:

    Making Villanova even more unlikely is that their stadium only holds 12,500 and has no room to expand. To even be eligible, they would have to expand and play in PPL park, which is a half hour away, in a bad neighborhood, and could only expand to 30,000, still smaller than any ACC stadium. The Linc is out as it’s exclusively (for college) occupied by Temple. If the Big East, as desperate as they are, couldn’t make a Villanova upgrade happen, it won’t happen in time to get an ACC lifeboat.

  2. rtmsf says:

    Agreed, it’s a desperate measure for desperate times. VU should have done what UConn did a decade ago; then they could deliver the Philly market and arguably be a better ACC expansion candidate than Connecticut. Arguably.

  3. […] According to Swofford, at least ten other schools have submitted applications to the ACC and it looks like the conference can pick and choose the choicest of those. The most commonly heard rumor has UConn and Rutgers winding up in the conference, giving the ACC a […]

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