New ACC Starts Tuesday

Rick Pitino and the Louisville Cardinals are happy to be in the ACC - Andy Lyons

It's hard to imagine missing Maryland very much though.

One more day until the ACC is done with Maryland, or, as we might as well call it, Upgrade Tuesday.

Maryland departs with a bit of a media hit, of course, but not much else. No one else in the conference, with the exception of South Carolina under Frank McGuire, ever managed such a level of bile, jealousy and ugliness.

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Over the years, there have been some great competitions with Maryland and the other ACC schools, notably with Duke, Carolina and State. The 1973 and '74 matchups with State are legendary, and there were some great matchups with UNC, not least of all the Len Bias game in Chapel Hill, when Bias had back-to-back dunks.

For Maryland, Coach K arrived and ascended just as Maryland basketball collapsed after the death of Bias and the forced departure of Lefty Driesell.

For most Duke fans, though, the hatred Maryland developed for Duke during that time dawned rather slowly.

For many of us, Maryland, UNC and State were the traditional powers and Duke's rise under Coach K was startling.

But the heated pennies, the riots, the water bottle which gave Carlos Boozer's mom a concussion, not to mention the riots, win or lose - who needs it?

There's not much to miss and let's face it, Louisville, in every sense other than tradition and travel time, is a significant upgrade. We'll leave football alone for now, other than to say Maryland isn't much in the sport. Louisville is vastly superior.

Basketball is our main concern obviously, and there, Louisville is a tremendous upgrade.

Maryland has two Final Fours, one national title and three ACC titles - 1958, 1984 and 2004. Toss in five regular season titles and that's it. Not a lot to show for 57 years really, and that doesn't even begin to get into the legacy of near misses and abject failures.

Louisville by contrast, despite competing in lesser conferences until fairly recently (the Cards have been in the Metro, Conference USA, the Big East, the AAC and now the ACC).

Louisville won the Metro Tournament 11 times, C-USA twice, the Big East three times and the AAC once in one year.

Oh wait, we missed the Missouri Valley Conference - seven championships there.

Louisville has three national titles and ten Final Fours - a more  worthy rival for Duke and UNC than Maryland, frankly (Duke has 19 ACC championships, four national titles, has appeared in ten title games and 15 Final Fours. UNC has won 17 ACC championships, been to 18 Final Fours, won five national titles and competed for nine.

Louisville has won consistently since World War II, with only a handful of sub .500 seasons. The Cardinals aren't going anywhere.

What the ACC loses is tradition and media.

Travel wise for Miami, the southernmost ACC team, it's a wash, a difference of about 20 miles.

From Durham, College Park is about 275 miles and Louisville about 520. It's a bit more for State, a bit less for UNC and almost a hundred less for Winston-Salem.

Not that it's that big of a deal when you factor in what a trip to Maryland involves. Duke fans learned long ago that it wasn't safe to wear Duke togs to a Maryland road game. During one game when Josh Howard could have won it for Wake Forest on the foul line, Wake fans were advised by ushers to hide under their seats if Maryland lost.

And then there were the riots.

Really, who needs it? What did Maryland offer the ACC other than boorish behavior and an occasional upset of UNC? It's been a festering collection of resentment, insecurities and entitlements for decades. Maryland fans are basically Kentucky fans without the arrogance of actual accomplishment.

The travel issue is not a big deal when you put it against the violence and punk behavior which is accepted and occasionally encouraged as a "home court advantage" in College Park.

The media issue is a bigger concern, but given John Swofford's notable ability to pull a rabbit out of his hat, we expect he'll figure something out here as well.

Certainly the conference has a lot to offer and the media landscape is changing nearly as fast as that of college sports.

Who knows where either will be in 10 years?

As we learned this past week, Aero's model didn't go over with the Supreme Court, but that doesn't change the fact that people are sick of sky-high TV bills and are looking for alternatives.

Mohu, based in Raleigh incidentally, manufactures a nice flat antenna for digital over-the-air channels. The company plans to launch Mohu Channels, which will combine over-the-air channels and other offerings like Netflix. At that point, all you're really missing is ESPN, and if enough people leave, ESPN will follow.

A company called FilmOn thinks the recent Supreme Court ruling means that online video companies can "compel broadcasters to license their TV signals under the retransmission consent rules outlined in the 1976 Copyright Act."

And Dish Network is looking into a smaller package for 20-30 dollars with just a few basic offerings. Most likely not included: The Big Ten Network.

All of this is in flux and no one but the most far-sighted savant knows where it will end, with one notable exception: people are not going to indefinitely pay more for stuff they watch less, and certainly not if competing services offer reasonable deals for less.

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