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Expansion Rumblings

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When conference expansion comes up lately, in this case with the SEC, there is a certain level of hysteria that's all too easy to get caught up in.

School Location Type Enrollment Football
Cincinnati Cincinnati Public 31,523 Yes
Connecticut Storrs Public 20,846 Yes
Rutgers New Brunswick Public 28,031 Yes
Louisville Louisville Public 15,125 Yes
South Florida Tampa Public 36,358 Yes
Syracuse Syracuse Private 13,504 Yes
West Virginia Morgantown Public 22,303 Yes
Pittsburgh Pittsburgh Public 17,427 Yes
DePaul Chicago Catholic 16,199 No
Georgetown  D.C. Catholic 7,092 No
Marquette Milwaukee Catholic 8,012 No
Providence College Providence Catholic 3,850 No
St. John's Queens Catholic 14,983 No
Seton Hall South Orange Catholic 5,245 No
Villanova Philadelphia Catholic 6,335 No
Notre Dame South Bend Catholic 8,371 No
TV Markets, Current ACC Markets, Loosely Defined, In Bold
1 New York
4 Philadelphia
7 Boston
8 Atlanta
9 Washington, DC
13 Tampa-St. Petersburg
16 Miami-Ft.Lauderdale
19 Orlando-Daytona Beach-Melbourne
23 Pittsburgh
24 Charlotte, NC
26 Baltimore
27 Raleigh-Durham
29 Nashville
30 Hartford-New Haven
34 Cincinnati
36 Greenville-Spartanburg-Asheville-Anderson
38 West Palm Beach-Ft. Pierce
41 Harrisburg-Lancaster-Lebanon-York
43 Norfolk-Portsmouth-Newport News
46 Greensboro-High Point-Winston-Salem
47 Jacksonville, FL
50 Louisville
54 Wilkes Barre-Scranton
57 Albany-Schenectady-Troy
58 Richmond-Petersburg
62 Ft. Myers-Naples
64 Dayton
67 Roanoke-Lynchburg
73 Toledo
79 Columbia, SC
80 Rochester, NY
81 Syracuse
92 Tri-Cities, TN-NC-VA
93 Burlington-Plattsburgh
99 Charleston, SC

Speculation has gone from Virginia Tech, where there seems to be very little interest, to Florida State, where interest has been if not denied at least discreetly tapped down, to Clemson.

One writer points out that it would be tough to invite Florida State or Georgia because the SEC schools in those states (Florida and Georgia) would throw a fit.  That doesn't apply to South Carolina, apparently.

For what it's worth, Debbie Yow has said that State isn't interested, that as a founding member of the ACC, they're committed to the conference.  Good for her.

Ken Tysiac makes an intriguing point in all of this: with the current hullabaloo over academics, moving from the ACC, which has historically been pretty good on academics, to the SEC, which has been anything but, might not be as appealing as people think: "Chancellors like to be aligned with other schools that possess highly regarded academic reputations. The big dollars of the SEC are enticing, but having an association with Duke, Wake Forest, Boston College, North Carolina, Georgia Tech and Virginia is not to be underestimated when evaluating chancellors' motivations."

If someone does bolt, though, the ACC would also make a move.  Commissioner John Swofford said this: "As I've said previously, we'll continue to be mindful of the collegiate landscape and what's best for the ACC and its member institutions. With that said, I've received no indication from any of our 12 Presidents that they have any intention of being affiliated with any conference other than the ACC."

Translation: As far as my sources have told me, no one is looking, but if they are, I'm not stupid enough to discuss it with you people.  But if they do leave, we have options.

So where would they likely turn?

Just as the Big 12 could potentially collapse, the Big East is vulnerable too.  And with the vast media markets they have, the ACC's media value would go up.

The Big East, as we've said before, is essentially two conferences in one.  One conference is essentially Catholic schools with a basketball tradition and the rest are essentially state schools with football and basketball schools of varying levels of success (Notre Dame is the obvious exception, but they've never been willing to join any conference in football).

Rutgers is the tempting target because of the New York/New Jersey market, but they've always been an afterthought behind St. John's and others in basketball and football has only recently been tolerable.  For all the fuss about the Boston market, the same is true of Boston College. They're an afterthought in a pro town.

If the ACC expands, in our opinion, it should stick to the Atlantic part of the name, not that anyone is going to listen to us.

That said, the Big East presents some tempting targets.  UConn has come up often but the poor academic performance and the frequent problems the basketball program has had could be issues.

Pitt has always been solid in football and Jamie Dixon has made them a powerhouse in basketball.  And Pitt is also very highly regarded academically. It's worth pointing out as well that they have a large alum association.

Demographically, South Florida is attractive, but they would add nothing in basketball and likely hurt.  This is all about football, but hurting basketball at this point would be just stupid.

West Virginia makes no sense.  You can probably cull the list down to UConn, Rutgers,  Syracuse (not interested last time but things change) and Pitt.

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