clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

What A Long, Strange Trip

Here we go, off into the brave world of expansion and big-time
football. Donna Shalala called the whole process "goofy," which
it was, and with a 12th team likely to be considered, what has - or should - the
ACC have learned?

We think the conference did a pretty thorough job getting ready for
this. The research was careful and deliberate, the reasons were thoughtful
and not trivial. You might disagree with the reasoning, but it's still not
illogical. The ACC lost control of the process, though, and after the Big
East had a fairly successful PR campaign, which portrayed the ACC as a big, bad
bully (never mind that the Big East has raided other conferences and has even
expelled an under-performing Temple football program). It's pretty
clearly understood that Miami, B.C., and Syracuse were all interested. It wasn't
like the ACC made them do it. It was mutual.

The second place where things got out of control was when the governor of
Virginia decided to play hardball on behalf of Virginia Tech. They're in
now as a result, and most everyone will be ok with them as they are good
neighbors and all, but their teams will be taunted for years over how they got

When the governor got involved, John Swofford, being no fool, already had the
votes. Virginia felt forced to change theirs, and so it was back to square
1 and endless teleconferences.

The third place where things went wrong was with the Big East's
lawsuit. A number of people have described it as frivolous. One
sports attorney said it's hard to understand how you could sue someone for doing
something they said they could do, namely leave the conference. We
wouldn't be surprised to see a loss by the ACC in a Connecticut court, which
would have a good chance at being reversed at a higher court.

The fourth place where things went seriously wrong was with the
Presidents. Nan Keohane and UNC's Moeser were at least consistent, but
UVa's Casteen was co-opted, Marye Ann Fox of NCSU shot down the whole idea of
going up the East Coast and nearly blew the whole process up, and Florida
State's president sniped publicly at his colleagues.

To put it politely, presidential leadership in the ACC is at an all-time
low. They got spooked by the lawsuit and bad publicity, and by the time it
was over, they brought in Virginia Tech, a fine university with a fine football
team but which has the 167th TV market in the United States. No one wanted
this. Then Miami understandably stepped back, and the situation was very
nearly ruinous.

There should be a requirement for these people to meet face to face whenever
a serious issue comes up. Actually, they should be forced to meet on a regular
basis anyway. A lot of what they do requires that they trust one

Fundamentally, we think that John Swofford put the conference in position to
do what it set out to do and had the votes to do it, but things got so bizarre
so fast that it was impossible to predict anything. It's a shame
that things happened the way they did, and the conference is very lucky it
didn't just blow up entirely.

Here are some more links for your reading pleasure.