October 05, 2002

Coastal Expansion: Should the Atlantic Coast Conference expand to 12 teams?

With the Southeastern and Big 12 conferences holding football championship games every year, the question that should be asked of the powers that be at the Atlantic Coast Conference is whether or not to bring in three new colleges into the league. While it is largely considered a non-issue, let us take a look at who would be the best candidates to enter the ACC. If you wanted to go big, the best suggestion wouid be to raid the Big East and take Miami (Fla), West Virginia, and Virginia Tech. West Virginia, Virginia Tech, Maryland, Virginia, and two of the North Carolina colleges (probably North Carolina and NC State) would be in a northern division, while Wake Forest, Duke, Clemson, Georgia Tech, Florida State, and Miami would be in the southern division. This alignment would boost the ACC's college football power overnight, and the possible venues for the ACC title game range from FedEx Field in Washington to Pro Player Field in Miami. The argument against this is that Miami, West Virginia, and Virginia Tech's best interest would be to stay in the Big East. Being in a "super ACC" would mean smaller bowl payouts for these colleges over the years. Plus, with a stronger rep, colleges like UNC, NC State, and others would be able to recruit better football players, and perhaps steal some players out of Florida. The most likely arrangement would be for Marshall out of the Mid-American, East Carolina out of the Conference USA, and Central Florida to enter the ACC, with Marshall and East Carolina joining Virgnina, Maryland, NC State and North Carolina in the ACC North, while Central Florida would be matched up with Duke, Wake Forest, Clemson, Georgia Tech, and Florida State. Its a leap of faith to bring in East Carolina and Central Florida into the ACC, but Marshall is more than ready to bring a competitive program to face the likes of Florida State. However, the only way that the ACC would expand would be for the NCAA to allow ten team conferences to split into two divisions, and only bringing in Marshall. Even this is iffy, since Marshall is a power in the MAC and would hurt their bowl chances by joining the ACC. A third but very unlikely option would be to bring up Division 1-AA teams like Appalachian State and/or Furman, but those schools are not likely to agree. UNC Charlotte has considered developing a football program, but it would be years before it could legitimately compete on any level in the ACC. In the final anaysis, it is unlikely that the ACC will expand anytime soon. There has been no recent discussion on this outside of speculation, and probably will not be unless schools mentioned in the first option were to jump from the Big East to the ACC. The ACC is a decent football conference, but its heart and soul lies in basketball, and probably will always remain that way even if the Hokies, Mountaineers, and Hurricanes were to join the Seminoles, Tar Heels, and Terrapins in the conference.

posted by jasonbondshow to commentary at 07:02 PM - 0 comments

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