June 24, 2003
The ACC and the WAC
If you've been following the ACC/Big East brouhaha (ably covered by Eric McErlain), the one thing that you can hang your hat on is that if and when the ACC raids the Big East for one or more teams, the Big East will look to invite schools from other conferences, most notably Conference USA. C-USA will then do the same, and in the end a whole lot of conferences will look very different, with one or more possibly in mortal danger.
As a Rice fan, I know what it's like to be abandoned by a conference. I know the WAC has been about as stable as Texas' congressional district boundaries lately. What I don't know is what to do about it.
Fortunately, someone else has been thinking about this. Check out The Yoda Plan, put together by WAC fan Bill "Yoda" Tanner, who is a regular poster on the WAC Fan Forum. It covers pretty well the issues that the old WAC-16 faced, how to work around them, and how to ensure stability for the future. He's gotten some mainstream media coverage of his plan (there are at least two other competing plans out there), and from where I sit he's pinned the sentiments of the Eastern WAC schools. Good job, Yoda.
Posted by Charles Kuffner on June 24, 2003 to Other sports
If I wanted a conference restructuring plan, Mr. Tanner, I'll talk to my children thank you very much.
Not to toot my own horn, but I've got a college basketball weblog that has been covering the ACC/Big East fiasco reasonably closely (until the last few days, at least). It's linked to my name. Links welcome!
The great irony in the Big East / ACC situation is that Notre Dame is in the Big East for bsketball, yet remains independent in football. Of course, that has nothing to do with $$$money$$$ :)
Please note that the four schools being considered for an ACC invitation are football schools: Boston College, Syracuse, Miami, and Virginia Tech. Only Syracuse has a year-in and year-out competitive basketball program, although each of the other schools has had some prominence in the Big East for that sport as well.
As far as C-USA is concerned, only Louisville might make sense for the Big East, since they have a half-decent football and basketball program. If only Miami leaves, Louisville could jump right in. I can't see Army being offered a shot at the Big East since the military academies are limited as to what athletes they can get (David Robinson was 6 foot 7 inches when he first went to Navy, the maximum height allowed.)
Since one of my associates at work is a Syracuse graduate, I asked him for his opinion. He doesn't like the idea of having to travel to Florida at least once a year for a football game, and there are no natural rivals other than Miami. On the other hand, they also lose two easy wins in Rutgers and Temple every year. As for basketball, the ACC is already the toughest conference in the country, and Syracuse will make things even more difficult. The other three schools could not compete there.
Latest reports have only Miami and Virginia Tech getting the call from the ACC. After much wailing and gnashing of teeth, Syracuse and Boston College may not be going anywhere.
Those two selections demonstrate quite clearly that while the ACC may have been a basketball conference, they know the real money is in football and selected the two best football programs from the Big East.
This will be the death knell for the Big East and frankly it's long overdue. The Big East's set up which included different teams for different sports didn't allow it to grow real rivalries.
The height of the Big East was in basketball in the mid 80's. Miami had some football success but I don't really think people associated them fully with the Big East. I always thought of them as an odd southern football appendage. They never really belonged and I think Miami finally realized that.
But the odd thing about this choice is that it leaves the ACC with 11 teams. NCAA rules state you have to have at least 12 teams to split into divisions which was why they were looking at 3 teams in the first place. Unless they pick up another school somewhere along the way (East Carolina?), they are going to be stuck with a Big 10/11 type schedule. Last year that schedule kept the best two teams Iowa and OSU from playing each other.
I don't understand the just-Miami-and-VaTech plan at all, for the reasons cited: it leaves them with 11 teams, which means no playoff and awkward scheduling. At least Miami and VaTech make geographic sense for the entirely-below-the-Mason-Dixon-Line ACC. If they don't find a 12th school to invite (if not ECU, then maybe USF, or how about raiding Pitt out of the Big East?), then this move just doesn't add up.
Once again, the school that's really getting screwed here is UConn, which only just started playing Div 1-A football. If the basketball schools (Georgetown, St. John's, Villanova, Providence, maybe BC) go off and form their own basketball-only Catholic schools league (as Eric McErlain has suggested they will), then UConn will have spent the money to upgrade to 1-A for nothing. Hey, maybe the Big Ten will take them...
This does leave some interesting possibilities. SUNY-Buffalo recently jumped to I-A by joining the MAC, which features Marhsall University. UConn could go that way, which at least gives them a more competitive situation for football then they had in playing Yale every year.
The ACC could extend their invitation to Louisville, which gives them 12 teams. Meanwhile, the "Catholic Basketball Conference" (also known as the Holy Hoops Conference) could keep Georgetown, St. John's, Villanova, Providence, BC and Notre Dame while extending invitations to St. Joseph's (Philadelphia), Fordham and possibly Manhattan or LaSalle. It would form a competitive conference that would probably be welcome at MSG for their tournament.