Crazy Talk: The ACC Should Focus Expansion on Basketball, Not Football

Posted by rtmsf on May 25th, 2010

Gerry Floyd is a longtime ACC fan and guest poster who feels strongly that the conference needs to get back to its roots in the next wave of expansion mania. 

With the seemingly constant banter about the Big 10’s imminent conference expansion, Atlantic Coast Conference commissioner John Swofford has said that he will not be `the aggressor’ during a summer in which potential moves will forever change the landscape of college athletics.  This is a big mistake.  Swofford needs to step up and take expansion by the horns.  With the potential of conference realignment looming from coast to coast, it only makes sense for the ACC to be proactive with these changes.  But instead of letting football dollars guide the decision-making, Swofford has a golden opportunity to come at the inevitable from a different perspective and instead alter the college basketball landscape for the better.

Commissioner Swofford Should Be Proactive Here

It is understandable that the driving force behind every conference expansion is football, and rightfully so.  College football brings in huge amounts of revenue that are not only used for athletic purposes but also for academic research opportunities at those universities.  This is very important for every ACC member institution and it makes sense that they should try to harness as much revenue as they can so their institutions can flourish.  But instead of focusing on expanding (or not expanding) for college football why not take a different approach to the usual football expansion?  To do this, the ACC must step back and take a look at the ACC’s overall product.  The conference’s primary business advantage over every other conference in America is its rich basketball tradition that includes a high level of competitiveness, passionate basketball fanbases and a strong presence in the national media regarding the sport.  Ask anyone in California or Michigan the first thing they think of when hearing “ACC,” and the immediate response will be “basketball.”   Therefore, instead of scouring for leftover football revenue in an oversaturated football market, the ACC should stay true to its roots and take a stranglehold on the college basketball market.

Every conference wants to be considered foremost a ‘football conference’ because of the amount of money that the sport brings in, and the expansion of the ACC in 2003 to include Boston College, Virginia Tech and Miami (FL) was a brilliant maneuver that brought the ACC a football conference championship and all the revenue that goes with it.  But the truth is the ACC is in its best year the fourth or fifth strongest BCS football conference in America and expansion isn’t likely to change that fact (the Big Ten, SEC and Big 12/Pac-10 hybrids would likely get stronger).  Since 2003, the league has only won one of its BCS bowls (Virginia Tech over Cincinnati in 2008), and the last four BCS bowls with the lowest television ratings all featured an ACC team.   On the other hand, in the seven years since expansion the ACC has had three national basketball championships and six Final Four appearances.  Business as usual on the hardwood.

The ACC has long represented the essence of college basketball; it is the conference filled with thoroughbred athletes and teams that every other league still measures itself by annually.  But since the latest football expansion the league has lost some of that advantage.  The ACC Tournament was once the “hottest ticket” in the country, but now the tournament is just another ticket before the NCAA Tournament begins a week later.  This could be due to Duke’s tournament dominance over the past decade, or (more likely) the front office in Greensboro turning its back on the one sport that makes the ACC marketable.  The goal of the ACC should not be to pressure football into a basketball-rich conference but to expand on its quality attributes in college basketball.  Any expansion should be done to enhance the ACC’s overall television market, seeking to improve its college basketball image and competitiveness without losing any revenue or market share in college football.

See, There's a Divison Right There

Please understand that the next proposal is not suggesting that the ACC should expand before the Big 10, but the league should be open to expansion ideas and proactive in considering conference realignments.  By sitting back and waiting, the ACC as we know it runs the risk of either become irrelevant or extinct.  Assuming the Big Ten doesn’t, the ACC should therefore extend invitations to West Virginia, Syracuse, Connecticut and Pittsburgh (Louisville would also be another viable candidate).  By adding these four teams the ACC will finally gain much of the New England television market that Boston College was unsuccessful in delivering.  With a sixteen-team league that stretches up and down the entire eastern seaboard (and the tens of millions of people living in that footprint), an opportunity would arise for the ACC to pursue a television network much like the Big Ten Network.  Most importantly from a brand perspective, this type of expansion would provide growth in the level of basketball competition while suffering little to no decline in football competition.

After expansion the sixteen institutions should be separated into two divisions (North & South) and four subdivisions (for example:  North Atlantic, North Coastal, South Atlantic, and South Coastal):

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Morning Five: 12.16.09 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on December 16th, 2009


  1. Will Brandon Knight become the next Derrick Rose Tyreke Evans John Wall for John Calipari at Memphis Kentucky?  One of the top players in the Class of 2010 has, according to Zagsblog, listed his final four schools:  Kansas, Kentucky, UConn and Florida.  He’ll sign in the spring, but you have to believe that with Wall leaving Lexington in April, the Wildcats would be very well situated for another one-and-done point guard prospect to enter the school.
  2. Arkansas can’t seem to get anything right lately.  It’s a small violation, but the Hawgs self-reported a violation involving photo images of players in a magazine.
  3. This was rumored last week, but it became official yesterday.  The Big Ten will formally explore the option of adding a twelfth team to its mix, ostensibly to have a football championship game.  We hope to have an analysis up later on this, but how will it affect basketball?  John Gasaway thinks it will come down to Pittsburgh or Missouri.
  4. Do you know anything — anything at all — about the Western Carolina Catamounts and their star player Jake RobinsonEducate yourself.
  5. Roy Williams explained himself further on his radio show Monday night.  Let’s just say that he didn’t apologize for overreacting, instead choosing to contextualize his thinking of the incident to excuse his behavior.   Here’s the relevant excerpt, but we suggest you read the entire thing here.

Saturday night, all of a sudden, some guy stands up and starts yelling at Deon and it came from behind our bench. And you know how when some things happen, you instantly think of something? My first thought was, ‘Now our parents are having to listen to somebody else, and it’s in our own building.’ And so I turned around and I said, ‘Who said that?’ And about 40-50-60-70-80 people started pointing up at this guy. The guy gets up and starts gyrating with his arms and everything like, ‘Yeah, it was me,’ and that kind of thing. And it really did tick me off. I turned and said something to the ushers behind the bench and they started up through there, and I turned around and coached the game. I have no idea what happened. I never turned around to the guy again. But my feeling was immediately that our parents who sit right behind our bench have to put up with that stuff again in our own building. So that was it. And after the game, they told me that they had escorted the young man out. Supposedly what had happened was they had asked him for his ticket and he didn’t have a ticket or wasn’t supposed to be sitting in that seat. Supposedly, and I want to emphasis the word supposedly, he didn’t cooperate as much as they wanted, and they chose to take him out.

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