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August 17, 2011

Should the SEC poach the ACC?

Is there opportunity here?
Yesterday, I wrote about SEC Expansion and Virginia Tech.  I'll admit it, there are some good reasons for the SEC to look at FSU or Clemson.  Both are well within the current footprint of the conference.  Both have regularly scheduled match ups with current members, plus longstanding rivalries with other members.  Both have strong athletic programs.  Academics?  Well, Clemson is very strong....

However, Slive would have to fight a very tough battle with Georgia and Florida on FSU, Georgia and South Carolina on Clemson.   I'd be unhappy with either.

Then there is Tech. There could be some good reasons for the conference to think about Georgia Tech, but the only one I can come up with is academics.  Georgia has a strong hold on the Atlanta TV market, as does UF, Auburn, Alabama, and Tennessee, for that matter.  They don't bring anything new to the table for athletics, other than a cute offense in football (before you flame me, I know they are a pretty good athletic department, and Mossad could learn a thing or two from them about information control).  I guess if you were choosing between South Florida and Tech, Tech is an easy choice, but I'd consider Tech about even with NC State, if NC State were the only choice.

But North Carolina State isn't.

Could the SEC make a move for UNC, Duke and NC State?  It gets them into a two growing large markets.  It brings decent football from two schools.  It bring two top flight academic institutions and when you add the four with Texas A&M, it is a huge academic boost.  It would put the SEC even with the Big East in the national basketball discussion, meaning a renegotiation of the TV package (for comparison sake, the ACC just signed a 12 year, 1.86 billion deal with ESPN, comparable to the SEC's per year deal).  It would cripple the conference of the in-state rivals of three members. 

Imagine at least 5-7 more basketball games and all conference tourney games on national TV. Before you start on UNC would never leave the ACC, did you think Nebraska would leave the Big 12?  Given a choice between being a possible non-BCS school (especially with the shenanigans at Miami) or moving to a better long term option with the three schools they are most closely tied to, and getting the money that comes with a move to the SEC?  Not a stretch.  NC State would move in a heart beat, too.

Strangely enough, the sticking point might be Duke's faculty living with a move to the unwashed academic masses of the SEC. Currently, the median USNews ranking in the ACC is 34.5, with FSU's 111 taking up the rear. The SEC's median is in the high 90s, with unranked Ole Miss and Mississippi State bringing up the rear.  That isn't an insubstantial consideration for Duke's faculty and academic reputation.

Hey, I grant North Carolina has their own issues with the NCAA, something that would be the source of multiple jokes if they come to the SEC.  I also grant this isn't the football marriage some might be dreaming of.  But again, if the option is TAMU plus FSU/VaTech/Clemson or TAMU plus Duke/UNC/NCState, I am pretty sure I know which one Slive will have the public and private consensus for.

I'd also consider Louisville a nice backup contender if the conference only goes to 14 schools.  Their basketball would help.  The football isn't good again, but they could help push the brand into the Midwest some.  Plus, Kentucky doesn't seem too upset over building a deeper rivalry with someone they can be a bit more competitive with.  However, I think Louisville is one of those ask before we ask Directional Florida to balance the conference deals.

As a final point, I will say that there are significant psychological downsides to taking in three ACC schools.  But if Slive can't convince Texas and the Oklahoma schools to join, these three make the most sense to me to get to 16 members. If it is Va Tech and Louisville, you just about have to get a Texas or Oklahoma with TAMU (which I just don't think will happen without Okie State) to build out to 16.

What if TAMU decides to stay? Can the SEC move on VaTech and the three North Carolina schools and make it work? I don't know.

I guess the real question is will the SEC be the first to make a move to 16 teams.


Anonymous said...

VT won't leave the ACC. The state of VA basically forced UVA to bring them in to the ACC, so VT would be forced to stay for similar reasons.

Anonymous said...

Neither UNC, NCSU, Duke, or WF would ever leave the ACC unless it were a 4-team package deal. I grew up in North Carolina, and it's 365-days-a-year ACC BASKETBALL talk and the basis of those schools' and alumni bases' identity. (Also, there'd be a ton of state legislature resistance.) In fact, many of the founding ACC members actually WANT to get rid of the newer additions, so they can get back to the original 8 (really 7 (8 minus GT) schools. The ACC is a basketball-first conference and football concerns wouldn't drive conference realignment. (They halfway tried that with FSU, VT, and Miami, and they've learned their lesson.)

Anonymous said...

If you want into the North Carolina market, I've got an easy solution - ECU. They arguably have a better football program than UNC, NC State, or Duke. They obviously aren't even in the conversation when it comes to basketball, but it's football driving expansion. And they obviously don't have the academic reputation of those three (nor do any SEC schools when compared to Duke and UNC, and only a handful would be considered better than NC State). 27K student population. Inroads to the Raleigh TV market and to some extent Charlotte. 50K stadium already approved to a 60K expansion. 2nd highest football attendance among non-AQ conference schools. They even released a web site today making their case for inclusion in conference expansion.

Ruteger said...

I've got to echo what was said above about UNC, Duke, etc. never leaving their basketball conference. Take UNC for example, who averages 17,700 or so in attendance per basketball game. Their football draw is only like 56,000 per game. Over a 7 game football schedule and a 17-18 basketball schedule, those attendance numbers are about on par with one another. If you contrast that to us, I'd bet we barely cover one football game with our entire basketball season (unfortunately). The point being, we're looking at conference expansion from a football perspective, and they'd do the opposite.

Dawgaholic said...

UVA and VaTech if you're going east. Then take NC State, Missouri, or Baylor. Baylor will make the TX ties even deeper and does not make the conference too difficult for the rest of us. They would be the Vandy of the west.

Pl0we said...

I do not care what the SEC. Whatever they do, I just hope it negatively impacts the nerds.

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