Conference Realignment: ACC Favoring UConn or Louisville as Replacement for Maryland

Louisville’s Making its Pitch to the ACC, But Will the League Take the Cardinals, or Opt With UConn?

For the first time in the past decade’s realignment carousel, commissioner John Swofford and the ACC will be making a reactionary move. After Maryland‘s defection over to the Big Ten today, the ACC is faced with replacing one of its founding members, while catering to the differing needs of the conference as a whole, and both new and old members of the league.

If the only goal is to simply replace Maryland with another school, then the clear-cut choice would be Connecticut. Providing another team in the general northeast area, the Huskies already have rivalries with Syracuse and Pittsburgh, plus an easy new one with regional foe Boston College. But there’s so much more to consider as realignment takes a turn. Up until this point the number-one rule of realignment was John Swofford always wins. Now that this has been proven patently false, the league must quickly adjust, not only to add replace the Terps, but to keep the rest of its members in place as well. And that’s no easy task, considering the league’s pipeline for new members has virtually dwindled to four.

According to CBS Sports, the ACC is having conversations about adding a replacement school already, and plan to act quickly. The candidates should not surprise anyone: Connecticut, Louisville, USF and Cincinnati, with the former two being the frontrunners. For UConn, the draws are an easy cultural and academic fit, well-rounded athletics outside of football and a close proximity to ESPN’s Bristol, Conn. campus. Louisville, while lagging behind on the academic front, has made a huge investment in athletics over the past 10 years and has strong football and basketball brands. The Louisville area also appears to be a growing market, and could potentially be an assist when it comes to television negotiations.

And what of the Bearcats and Bulls? Right now, the ACC only needs to replace one team, but what if that number suddenly grows to four or six? (terrifying, by the way) If so, those teams become the ACC’s only options — though neither is a slouch, either. Cincinnati’s football program has developed into a consistent success and already has rivalries in place with Pitt, UConn and Louisville (should the latter two already be added). USF, while struggling this season, managed to build a successful program from scratch in a decade, and has ties to the former Big East schools, as well as Miami and Florida State. You also can’t go wrong with another school in the football recruiting hotbed of Florida. For South Florida and Cincy, the bigger drawback is academics, but again, if forced to replace more members, I think that consideration can be waived.

So while these options could present easy replacements for the ACC, just one (Louisville) really accomplishes the other big goal of their next addition: keeping the “football” schools happy. Mirroring some of the issues the Big East has experienced for years, the ACC’s basketball stature is such that it can take precedence in the minds conference leadership. But since football still drives the freight, it must be the property that takes center stage. So while UConn seems like a great fit that solidifies the ACC as the best basketball conference under the sun, it does nothing for football. It also does nothing for Notre Dame, Florida State and Clemson, who have other, very real options out there for them. Louisville, while by no means a world-beater, has the football and basketball pedigree required to placate all involved parties, even if they fall short on academics. By adding Louisville, the ACC tells its members it’s serious about being a major football conference, while signaling to the Big 12 they’re running out of expansion options themselves. Of course, things can always change, but for now, adding Louisville functions as both a preventative and growth-related measure. UConn will always be there, so why force the scenario where the ACC would actually NEED them more than they need the ACC?

So what do you think? Connecticut or Louisville? Do either keep the ACC together as-is, or is Maryland’s move just the tip of the iceberg?

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98 thoughts on “Conference Realignment: ACC Favoring UConn or Louisville as Replacement for Maryland

  1. The University of Louisville is, in my opinion, a far better (and more competitive) school and athletic program. I fear many conference presidents will merely dismiss a school like Louisville simply because of academic reputation. I think it is entirely unfair to judge a school and its fan base on such generalizations. Their ability to compete should not be overshadowed by the average SAT scores of incoming freshmen, or how thick the ivy is that grows on the side of their buildings. Plus, it should be mentioned that a school such as Louisville could see their academic stature increase by being associated with the other schools in the ACC.

    Second, if it is indeed UConn, then the conference to reconsider its divisional alignment. If UConn merely replaces Maryland in the Atlantic Division, then this would place Clemson and FSU in the same division as three northeastern teams (also including BC and Syracuse). This poses a significant distance that makes it difficult for fans like me to travel. I am sure it places a burden on student athletes and athletic department as well. Making the Virginia/North Carolina boarder the dividing line between the divisions just makes too much sense to ignore. It also helps preserve most traditional rivalries (except for UVa I guess). And you do not need to change the names “Atlantic” and “Coastal” to accomplish this. [NOTE: This should happen regardless of who replaces Maryland, but I digress]

    Finally, I hope the conference takes new measures to prevent future defections. Something similar to the Big 12’s grant of media rights may be appropriate.

    • The grant of rights would be a great measure, but in effect, that’s what the $50M exit fee is. In the ACC, the school that the grant of rights would be designed to keep (FSU) would never vote for it. And even if they did, it wouldn’t be for more than three years (Big 12’s for six). If you lose three years of media rights, that’s $60M — just $10M more than the current exit fee.

      And believe me, I’m right there with you when it comes to Louisville. Bring them in, and at least show you’re making an investment in football. I shudder to even think about adding UConn, since the North/South alignment would fail to generate interest, nor would it add to the bottom line. FSU, Clemson, Miami and Georgia Tech — four of the league’s five main brands — would be corned off in the same division too, effectively hurting the ACC even more. Adding the Huskies will push the ‘Noles out, without fail.

      • The current Atlantic/Coastal configuration only adds to the list of reasons why Louisville should be added over UConn. Actually, Louisville should be added over pretty much anyone, IMO. But it makes no sense to place all three northern-most schools in the same division with Clemson and FSU.

        Plus, Louisville is a program on the rise. UConn (on the other hand) is about to head down a long, hard road in the opposite direction–regardless of their conference affiliation.

        And Louisville fans will buy tickets! For road games in football, and in bowl games. I cannot quite say as much for UConn football fans. Fans traveling has been one of the ACC’s most difficult issues in football. We have too many small schools that lack a large traveling fanbase. This is not a comment on any particular fan’s passion for their school. It has more to do with size and numbers. Thus, we see so many empty seats at the ACC Championship game. That was also the reason why the ACC placed so many rules on bowl selection (e.g. the ACCCG’s loser cannot fall farther than 5th in bowl selection).

        • I’m 100-percent in favor for the reasons you listed and more. Sure, UConn’s rivalries with Pitt, SU and BC would be great, but conference realignment isn’t about rivalries. It’s about football, television markets and football again. Louisville, while not in close proximity to ESPN, is in a growing area, and the school has shown it’s willing to invest in athletics and academics, without operating in the red.

  2. What goes around comes around. ACC should have snatched UConn, Rutgers, Pitt, WVU, Syracuse, who along with Maryland would have made a decent northern football division. I can see others bolting as the Big 12 makes its move to counter. Louisville really would prefer the Big 12, but FSU and Clemson get the nod first, unless they go to 16. So sad, so sad. Have watched the ACC since the time when South Carolina was a member. I think the ACC has been looked at as the bad guys who hide behind the academic mantra of a few Tobacco Road schools since they first raided the ACC. And not they are considering USF. How low can they go. And Wake shoots ND to the top of the BCS. How hollow.

    • The ACC’s relied on the Big East as its minor leagues for two long, and in return, this is what happens. While Syracuse, Notre Dame and Pitt are all good fits for the league, they forgot that football needed to be a larger focus, and never went after Penn State or West Virginia when they had ample opportunity to do so. Maryland was the linchpin in this deal, not Rutgers, so I’m confident in saying the ACC could’ve continued on with or without hte Scarlet Knights.

      On top of the expansion strategy endorsed by the ACC, there’s the other issue they had no control over: competition. The ACC had no idea Miami would trip and fall, nor could they have predicted FSU’s struggles for most of the past decade. Expansion would’ve created a deeper bench of talent, but we can’t blame John Swofford for being unaware he’d have just a couple programs capable of winning consistently. The ACC used to have plenty of teams contending for spots in the top 25. Now, many of those programs have devolved into mediocrity.

    • I’m just hoping they all listen to sense. Tobacco Road will vote UConn. I just hope everyone else has enough sense to speak up. If FSU and Clemson actually want to stay, they certainly will make their thoughts known.

      • I don’t think Tobacco Road has the ability to control any conference wide decisions, being only 4 of 11 votes (or 14 if Pitt, Syracuse and ND get a vote).

        Any decision on a replacement for Maryland needs to be a football first and television market second decision. Academic standing and geography have no place in this decision, given the current state of conference affiliation. Therefore, if the choice is between Louisville or UCONN, unless ESPN is willing to do something to make UCONN more appealing, the choice is Louisville.

        • To me, the Tobacco Road voting bloc isn’t just those four, though. It’s also UVA and VaTech, which gets 6 out of 11, unless the new schools aren’t allowed to vote. Chances are Syracuse and Pitt also pick UConn out of loyalty to some of the early Big Eat members, which would bring it to 8 of 14. With my own Syracuse affiliation, I don’t have the same allegiance to UConn, but I could understand why the school presidents may.

  3. I grew up in North Carolina during the 70s and 80s watching ACC basketball on the Raycom Sports/Jefferson Pilot telecasts while rooting on Wake Forest. Games on regular broadcast TV on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday nights. Every game televised and being able to root for and against certain teams (can’t stand Carolina and Duke). I married a Minnesota girl, and now live in the land of Gophers. The first thing I noticed when we moved here in 1997 was that college basketball doesn’t exist in the minds of the general population. There were no college games on TV, unless you had cable and then you only got what ESPN was showing. Even with the BIG 10 TV network, it mostly shows replays of college football over and over, if you want to watch every Rose Bowl that has ever been played then that’s the network for you! The University of Minnesota just built a brand new state of the art 50,000 seat football stadium on campus about 3 years ago and can’t even sell it out. They are in debt and complaining about money issues just as Maryland and Florida State, yet they are making all of that Big 10 money!
    Maryland has just sealed their fate for athletics, they will be a nobody within 5 years, if they manage to win one conference game a year for the first 5 years in football (and that would be the game between them and Rutgers) in the BIG10 it will be a minor miracle. This move will only add more empty seats to their stadium!!!
    Do they really expect that any kids who are interested in playing football against schools like Penn State, Ohio State and Michigan are going to enroll at Maryland?!? Come on if they are that good of an athlete with a least some common sense they are going to go to Penn State, Ohio State or Michigan where they can actually win games and play for teams that have lots of football tradition. Maryland has been only a mediocre ACC team in football for years. They have just destroyed their basketball teams, Indiana and possibly Michigan State are the only really passionate basketball schools. And don’t even mention travel for all of the other teams to those wonderful destination of Lincoln, NE and Iowa City, IA or Urbana, IL for women’s field hockey or men’s soccer or what about basesball or softball. Do you really think the recruits that want to play for a team that is a lacrosse powerhouse will join a conference where the only sport that makes any money besides football is HOCKEY!
    Yeah Maryland, I just hope the ACC has the good graces to accept you back for membership in 5-10 years when you piled on even more debt and destroyed any last competitive sports you may have had.

    • I don’t see Maryland — or any team, for that matter — going back to where they started, but I understand your points here. I agree that Maryland football will certainly struggle to keep up in their new environment, but the again, Northwestern, Indiana, Illinois and Purdue have spent a good portion of time struggling there, yet they still do alright. While Maryland basketball will be just fine in the B1G, I don’t think it weighs heavily on the decision here. it’s about football and money, and maybe some sort of academic prestige, and that’s it. Given those factors, it’s a smart move for them, though maybe not as much for the Big Ten. We may not know the full breadth of this development until 10-15 years out, though, depending on Maryland and Rutgers’ respective success and how much penetration the league’s gained in those eastern TV markets.

      • That’s just my point, as bad as Northwestern, Indiana, Illinois and Purdue might be in football they are light years ahead of Maryland. Additionally, their fans don’t travel for football, and for that matter neither does Minnesota, so right there around half your new conference opponents won’t be bringing tons of fans to fill up the stadium. So where does Maryland think they are going to get all the people to fill up the seats?? They will still have tons of empty seats in the stands and when they do have sell outs for the Penn State, Ohio State or Michigan games, guess what the crowd will NOT be pulling for Maryland….they will be full of fans for these other schools. Nothing like playing a home game when your opponent has more fans in the stands than the home team!!
        As to basketball….the program is going to have some serious recruiting hurdles to overcome……all the local talent will still be in play for the ACC schools as well as the remaining Big East schools like UCONN, Georgetown, Villanova, etc on the east coast. Kids in the NY-Philly-DC area aren’t going to want to play against Iowas, Wisconsin, Purdue, etc. They don’t know about those schools as they have no history with them. So the basketball program will struggle, I wouldn’t be surprised if they lose some current players from the team because of the move.

  4. If the decision were mine, I’d be looking very hard at taking the ACC to 16 members, with Louisville and CIncinnati as the preferred marks. Those two schools bring in new geographic areas for TV and are proficient in football as well as basketball. The only con to that would be that the ACC would have to “lower” their academic standards considering the ratings/rankings of those schools. Geographically and academically, UConn is a good fit. I don’t believe that inviting UConn will satisfy the football interests of FSU and Clemson. Swofford has his hands full with this decision, with the future of the conference at stake.

    • I’ve seen that there could be a decision by tomorrow — if there isn’t one already. I just think the whole thing’s rushed. Why not swing for the fences so that we can prioritize football and academics, while also keeping our place at the table among the power conferences? Penn State, Vanderbilt, Northwestern and Kentucky are all stretches, and by no means am I claiming they’d come aboard, but isn’t it worth a serious conversation with each of them? Louisville’s a fine add, but I’d prefer we aim for the options above, and then dip back into the Big East.

        • Kentucky is a last-resort, but a worthwhile choice nonetheless. They’re a national brand, and can add something to the league’s bottom-line. While amongst the realistic additions, I’m certainly in favor of adding Louisville, Kentucky is worth a shot as well.

    • The 16-league conference is only a season or two away. Best to take the top 2 contenders and solidify your conference. I would invite UConn and Louisville – the first to protect our East Coast television markets; the second to mollify both the football and basketball factions (with all due respect to UConn’s fine basketball pedigree. Cincy is an interesting choice, but its athletic pedigree is rather new; whereas, Louisville’s has been established for quite some time.

      • I’m fine with bringing Louisville and/or UConn on-board. But just want to make sure the ACC has evaluated all options first. Big East has become C-USA 2.0. Don’t necessarily want the ACC to become BE 2.0.

  5. There is nothing the ACC can do to prevent Florida State and Clemson (or anyone else) from leaving if they want to. Since when did Louisville become a football power? They got lucky with the hiring of Charlie Strong – he leaves and they could Kragthrope their way right back to nothingness. Florida State is going to turn down playing Texas & Oklahoma for Louisville? LOL good luck with that.

    The ACC is in real trouble. As a UConn/Big East fan, Ive seen this story already. If the Big 12 wants FSU & Clemson, or the Big Ten wants Georgia Tech or if the SEC comes after UNC…the ACC is not keeping them, end of story.

    The Big East rearranged the chairs for a decade and look where that got them. Football rules. The ACC sucks at football. It’s pretty easy to see how this story ends — there will be 4 power conferences and the ACC won’t be one of them.

    • That includes a widespread assumption that the $50M exit fee (or something close) doesn’t hold up. Also, all indications currently say the Big 12 is fine at 10 members. And the SEC won’t expand just for the sake of expanding. I’m not saying members couldn’t leave, but talking about it as a certainty is foolish. The ACC’s first loss was a non-factor in football. When the Big East first began losing members, they were losing the top teams in their league. To your point on the four power conferences, I’d find that hard to believe for several reasons. Those top four leagues can’t get to 16 apiece without cannibalizing each other, and there are more than 64 brand-names in college football. Too many quality programs would be left out if the power was ever consolidated to just four leagues.

    • Charlie Strong is adamant about staying with Louisville. Jurich is no slouch and we have ties with many of the ACC schools. Miami, NC, and Va Tech. Louisville brings in instant rivalry with Miami and FSU as many of our football players are from the sunshine state. Strong is committed to making Louisville a name in football. We aren’t going to blow the doors off but we have a lot of good kids. Basketball we will instantly compete with any school in the ACC. We are no. 2 in the nation for good reason. We instantly give you a top team to go with Duke and NC that will compete in basketball every year. ACC affiliation I believe we would get better academics, we do have the top awards for Fulbright recipients. Higher than any other ACC school or Ivy League for that matter. ACC we instantly become a draw for smarter kids.

    • I’m not sure hinging Louisville’s success on the hiring of Charlie Strong really does justice to what they have done since 2000. Counting the 2000 season to present, Louisville’s football record is 106-56. They hired 3 good coaches and 1 bad coach. With Papa John, UPS, and KFC Yum! willing to foot the bill for facilities when the team is winning, the job appears to be pretty attractive. Is it as attractive as an SEC job? Probably not many of them, but I’m thinking the bottom tier SEC coaches would love to have Louisville’s facilities. Similarly, it is competitive with most of the ACC, and is worlds ahead of any other available programs that the ACC would consider adding.

  6. @ JohnCassillo – Just curious as to why you think any SEC or B1G member would be willing to listen to any membership plea from what they’d have to consider a lesser league? I guess I could understand the academics and the ability to be part of a group that’s more like-minded. Just can’t see those schools giving up all of that revenue or their spot at the big boys table. I couldn’t envision any ACC school entertaining the offer to join the Big East or Conference USA.

    My biggest fear with Maryland’s departure is that the ACC fails to satisfy the interests of the football schools with any new member(s), with the end result of those football schools moving on to the BIG12 or SEC.

    • I’m not delusional in thinking B1G or SEC schools would come aboard. But I still think the league should try. What’s the worst that happens? They say no, and the ACC calls up UConn or Louisville anyway. I just think the league needs to appear more aggressive and make sure it has a proposition to sell both potential and current members.

      I’d agree, the league is playing with fire if it fails to grab at least a competent football school to replace Maryland, which is why I’m so outspoken against adding UConn. If the ACC wants to find the quickest way to get rid of Florida State and Clemson, then adding another “basketball school” is the best way to do so.

  7. The ACC need to pick up Louisville. UCONN will always be available in the future if necessary. Any school that only graduates 11% of their basketball players does not deserve to be in the ACC.

    • I think most of that number speaks to the level of NBA talent the Huskies have had over the years, however. I’d also argue that basketball doesn’t matter in the realignment discussion.

      That said, I completely agree, UConn will always be there, so there’s no point in rushing to give them an invite.

  8. To some individuals, academics may be is a major factor in determining which school should be invited to join the ACC.

    But 95% or more of the student body does not participate in sports.

    So why should academics be a factor in determining which school should be invited
    to join the Atlantic Coast ATHLETIC Association ?

    It would be different if it were the Atlantic Coast Academic Association.

    Who has the best athletic teams ?
    Who has the biggest fan based on attendance, traveling and TV viewing ?

    Answer : LOUISVILLE

    • The ACC — and to some extent, the Pac-12 and Big Ten, too — would still like to consider themselves a collective of like-minded institutions that also happen to participate in highly-profitable athletic competition together. In many cases, conferences were formed to become athletic and academic collectives. At this point, that notion has been partially tossed out the window by television revenues.

      Despite “lesser” academics, I still think Louisville’s the choice. They’ve made investments to improve their standing, and have done so while also improving the stature of their athletic program. To me, that shows a positive outlook in the future — the exact outcome you’re looking for in a long-term member institution.

  9. I am a lifelong University of Louisville fan. As such, my opinion is obviously subjective. However, it is an opinion, I can confidently say, shared by 99% of my fellow Louisville fans. We are desperate to be rescued from the Big East. An invitation to join the ACC would be welcomed with open arms and considered a paramount honor. We are aware of our academic deficiencies compared to the rest of the schools currently in the ACC. However, the University of Louisville constantly strives to improve our standing at every opportunity. Moreover, we are serious about our athletic programs and have added state-of-the-art facilities for every sport. Our programs have prospered to the point where the athletic department returned money to the university for academics. If you research our standings, you will see we are competitive in every sport and most of our teams are ranked in the top 25 nationally. We are growing and we will continue to with every success. I feel Louisville would be a great addition to the ACC and I assure you we would support the conference as passionately as we support our university.

    • I have no doubt in any of that. I’m a Syracuse fan myself, and I’d agree that Louisville was a fantastic addition to that conference in every sport. The Cardinal are my preferred add now in the ACC — partially due to football prowess, while nodding to potential Big 12 expansion and the potential for growth in the market. I don’t think the ACC sees it that way, but I’m hoping I’m wrong.

  10. Check your “academics” facts my man. You are making yourself sound like an un-informed elitist….which is an embarrassing position to be in.

    • You act as if I’m the only one citing that fact (far from the case). It’s nothing against Louisville, nor is it my opinion. If you read any part of this, you’d see I’m in favor of adding the Cardinals. I’ll also readily acknowledge the university’s investments in academics and athletics, and steady growth over the past decade. Again, facts have been checked. Now just using them as part of a much larger point, and then actually talking about them as indicative of positive growth.

    • Fair enough. Im just a guy who loves my Cardinals. As you know, we have no professional teams in our state so our universities are our passion. I was only trying to convey my sentiments like I actually have teeth in my mouth. It’s been kind of crazy for us the past 20 years or so. We had a great football coach who had us on the right track until some well meaning idiot connected us with CUSA. We were better off staying independent. I don’t blame Schnellenberger for leaving after that. He knew we could never compete for a National Championship in that conference. Then we get into the Big East which we thought would be our slavation. Now it’s going down faster than the Titanic. We’re begging for a life preserver from somebody. Big 12, ACC, SEC, or the cotton picking Big 10…somebody. After all the shakedowns, Louisville will end up somewhere sooner or later. I only hope it’s sooner.

  11. Went to Belk Bowl last year and seen NCST playing a young Louisville team . Liked both teams but really impress with the crowd ”The Ville” brought down to the game . This is a ACC School written all over it . Since I live in Miami , be a nice addition to basketball in thier new 22k arena .

  12. This isnt about academics. are all the schools in the ACC really academic juggernauts? I’ll admit, some are very good. But there are a few that are just okay. Louisvilles academics were not great.. like 20 years ago . Now they are fine. in fact at the rate they are improving it wont be long before they are right there with a handful of acc schools. as far as athletics go, Louisville is an absolute gem. They have top 25 programs all over the place, have some phenomenal facilities, and make lots of money! I’ve been told once or twice this has something to do with television.

    • The rate of growth, both academically and athletically, is exactly why I think Louisville is the best add — both now and in the future. UConn may appear to be the “best” fit, based on a USN&W ranking and long-standing basketball rivalries with some members. But beyond that, I don’t see how you look past Louisville.

  13. I think it’s clear a lot of people think Louisville would be a very good addition to the ACC (and I agree with that). It’s not the greatest geographic fit, but it’s not horrible (not like, say, WVU in the Big 12). I think Louisville has a lot to offer the ACC. I know they’ve made great investments in their athletics and it shows, being competitive in both basketball and football.

    I also think while it doesn’t necessarily have the academic rep that most ACC schools do (at least based on USNWR rankings) it’s improving and is certainly not bad.

    Hopefuly the Cards will make it to the ACC, and the conference won’t lose anyone else.

    • And WBB (nat’l runner up in 2009 and a gold medalist McCaugthery in the 2012 Olympics; currently 6th ranked) and Baseball (2006 CWS, reginal, super reg every year since but 1), softball, volleyball, Men’s Soccer (nat’l runner up 2010?), two weeks ago (last time school reported it, we had 8 teams in NCAA top 25 rankings and that is just Fall sports. Add MBB FF’s 2005 and 2011 and current #2 nat’l ranking; and BCS Bowl win 2007, in past 10 yrs finished twice as nation’s 6th ranked team and once as 19th; and currently BCS #20 ranking.

      UofL is the ONLY University since 2006 to go to a BCS Bowl (Win over WF); MBB FF, WBB FF, College Cup (Soccer) and a CWS.

      Academically two years ago we had something like 16 Fulbright scholars and 1 Rhodes scholar (we also had a Rhodes-candidate that was a part-time starter for the 2008 or 9 MBB team; and we lead the BE (even with Georgetown, Rutgers, ND, Nova, . . . ) in all BE academic awards for athletes and two seasons ago had the nation’s highest MBB Team GPA (~3.16); last year it was above 3.0, but we trailed the leader by ~0.05.

      We are currently constructing a new Academic Center for athletes that will, like everything else we build, be funded by fans (not tax dollars) and be among, if not the best, in the country (Only way Mr. Jurich (past AD of the Year) knows how to build.

      I don’t understand all the nuances of USN&WR’s ranking of universities, but apparently UofL is dinged, as we have considerable medical research grants, but medical doesn’rt count (?). And as we were a private university as recently as the early ’70’s, we are not a land grant institution. Again it is my limited understanding that land grant U’s received huge blocks of land that gave them a significant leg up financially and they are state schools, which receive a disproportionate share of state funding, and thus matching Federal funding.

      Proud alumnus!

  14. I would very much like for all thoughts on this go on hold until Saturday evening. Since the 2 school in the fore ground of this commentary are playing, I think we can hipe the results. If Louisville can stay on task, and put all this conversation out of their heads and win big, I think the ACC will see the correct choice. If we lose to UCONN on Saturday we will seal our own fate a a couple of levels. I would love to see more thoughts after the game than before..HutcH

  15. The decision is MORE than just football, but for all you Louisville yahoo’s, there football record isn’t good the past several years with the exception of this season. Over the past 5 seasons they were 7-6, 7-6, 4-8, 5-7, 6-6. Not much of a football powerhouse IMO. UCONN has been 5-7, 8-5, 8-5, 8-5, 9-4 and have gone 3-2 against Louisville in those 5 seasons. UCONN has both excellent men and women’s basketball programs and much better Soccer, Baseball and field hockey programs than Louisville – all important to the ACC conference. Larger television market, ESPN proximity and a much better academic institution means UCONN is a better pick than Louisville.

    • The decision is based on football and TV revenue, with a nod to academics. That’s pretty much it. It’s been proven that other sports don’t move the needle, so they’re not even worth mentioning when discussing realignment.

      Inviting Louisville would be based on projected growth and returns (high), and a desire to keep the “football” schools happy with a more competitive member. While UConn has had success, and no one will take that away from them, the environment and trends say they’re about to experience a downward turn.

    • Our soccer team just won the Big East title again for the 2nd time in two years. We were a frog’s hair away from winning the national championship in 2010. So no Uconn is not near our level in soccer. Baseball again we are a top 25 team every year. We were one of the top schools in the college World Series. Our women’s softball team won the Big East. Not real sure where you are getting your information. Final Four in men’s and women’s basketball. If it wasn’t for Kemba Walker you are no where near beating UK. Our womens volleyball team just won the Big East championship. We have three Olympic swimmers. An Olympic rower. Women’s field hockey was ranked all year. To say Uconn is some great get is really quite tragic. We won our BCS game in the Orange Bowl, not even sure what product Uconn put on the field for their BCS bid. Women’s basketball Coach Walz is quickly turning our program around and last I checked we were ranked # 8 and the Men’s squad well we are # 2. Uconn competed for one year and faded away. Uconn doesn’t put anywhere near the money our Athletic Department does and we sell out soccer games so WE actually show up to support our school.

      • Many folks have supported Louisville in this discussion. But you’re making the wrong argument for them. When it comes to conference realignment, no one cares about men’s basketball, never mind rowing, soccer and all the other sports you’ve listed out. It’s football and television market revenue (both current and potential for the future). That’s it. No need to bring up anything else.

    • It’s hard to judge the Louisville team that was coached by Steve Kragthorpe. He was a total failure and the only mistake that AD Tom Jurich has made in his 15 year tenure at U of L. Before Kragthorpe, Louisville was actually riding pretty high under Bobby Petrino. in 2006, U of L was 3 points away from playing Ohio State for the National Championship. I am quite certain if Michael Bush hadn’t broken his leg in the first game against UK, he would have won the Heisman trophy and led Louisville to a National Championship. Bush had 131 total yards and 3 touchdowns in the first half against UK. He unfortunately broke his leg while being tackled early in the second half.

  16. The ACC should invite UCONN, Louisville, Cincinnati and South Florida to join the coference to capture an even larger TV market. Why not ?

    • Dilution of the product. Louisville and Cincinnati capture much of the same market, while USF isn’t an enormous draw. UConn doesn’t really deliver any eyeballs that either Syracuse or BC doesn’t already. Overall, I think it would be expansion for the sake of expansion, and could potentially end up pushing Clemson and FSU out.

    • And that might be what the ACC does to counter punch the Big 10. My only concern would be Louisville jumping ship at some point as they really want to be in the Big 12 and not the ACC.

      • It seems to me that Louisville just wants out of the Big East altogether, and will take any raft they can find. But would they be able to afford two large exit fees in a short span of time (Big East, and then ACC, should they choose to leave for the Big 12)? I’m not so sure. As I said in my other piece on aiming a bit higher in expansion than more Big East teams, I don’t think adding four of those schools functions as a counterpunch at all. More appears like a sign of surrender to potential poachers that the ACC doesn’t care what its football members want.

        • The two best games I can think of as a Louisville fan were Miami in 2006 and Florida St in 2002, the rain game. Louisville has managed to field some good teams in some very bad conferences. Every time they get going the coach bails for a bigger conference job. I could only assume that if they get left out and are stuck in the big east they will lose yet another coach and who knows if they will ever get back. If they move to the ACC I see Strong staying and recruiting getting better and more games like the two mentioned above.

  17. Louisville mostly wants a way out. If they can find stability….even better.
    Many Louisville fans prefer the ACC if it remains intact. Closer travels, chance for good regional rivalries, orange bowl tie in, and a home for many of its elite olympic sports that the Big 12 doesn’t even offer. Obviously, this is about football alone, however, and at least the move to the ACC, while not as preferable as the Big 12 in this regard, would be appealing to the fans. No doubt, the bball would be fantastic, and I think many ACC fans would enjoy their travels to Louisville. Louisville has tons of cash (more profitable than any ACC school last year even without big conference money), but being fiscally responsible, I doubt they would have much much interest in paying 2 exit fees unless they had too.

  18. As a big Louisville fan and as are many of my friends, we definitely prefer the ACC over the Big 12. Who wants to play a bunch of farmers and cowboys ?

  19. Everyone in the media likes to diss the Louisville’s academics as the only reason for hesitation but I urge everyone to look where they were 10-15 years ago to where they are now. Their investment to improving their academic standing has been on the forefront for nearly 2 decades. Their investment in their athletic departments is unbelievable as well. Aside from football and basketball, just look at the improvements in each of the non-revenue sport facilities and programs. It has been an unbelievable transformation. They definitely have been on an upward trend and continue to be.

  20. As a U of L grad and long time fan I agree, the majority of card fans would take the ACC any day over the Cow Pie Conference. We don’t have a cow tipping team.

  21. I agree that the ACC should go ahead and get Louisville while they are still available as UConn will be there if we were to expand further. If it is the true goal improve and at the same time keep our football schools happy before they decide to bolt, then this should be a no doubter. The upside by adding Louisville is far greater than UConn. Hopefully Mr. Swofford will see it the same way.

    • It’s really not Swofford that needs to be convinced, though. It’s the school presidents, since they’re the ones that ultimately decide and vote on membership. UConn’s likely to get votes from UNC, Wake Forest, Duke, NC State and UVA for sure. Syracuse, Pitt and BC are the swing votes. If all three approve, UConn’s in. Otherwise, the conversation shifts to Louisville. In that case, the Cardinals’ backers within the ACC just need to show how much their academic and athletic profile has grown within the last decade or two, and hopefully that’s enough to convince detractors.

      • Well stated. I am just afraid that if UConn does come in, FSU and Clemson may gauge interest with the Big12. This decision should not be based on a market area. A quality product will do more for TV revenue.

        • Agreed. And UConn has no market to speak of. There’s nothing the Hartford/New Haven DMA delivers that Syracuse, BC and Notre Dame don’t already, so why create more overlap and add zero value? The ACC currently has no stake in the ground in Kentucky. If we’re adding eyeballs, that seems like the only choice.

  22. Why not make a bolder move and add UConn and Louisville and add Georgetown (DC market) for all sports except football. Then would have an even 16 members for sports other than football and an even 14 members for football. If Georgetown not willing, perhaps St. Johns for the NY market.

    • St. John’s registers in the New York market as much as Syracuse does for basketball — see their games at MSG, when the arena’s usually covered in orange. Plus, basketball-only invites do little to help the league here. They’re trying to move the needle in football, and already have one non-football member in Notre Dame. In my opinion, the only strategy is to add one team for all sports, leaving that 16th slot open for Notre Dame should they choose to come aboard for football at some point.

  23. How many national championships does Louisville have in basketball? How many Big East conference titles in basketball? How many Big east conference titles in football? Mind you UCONN has been in FCS since 2000 so in 12 years they have accomplished a lot more than Louisville. Now let’s mention women’s basketball because for some reason I guess women’s basketball or sports don’t matter right?? They don’t pay the bills so they don’t count? I don’t think so… The best woman’s BBall program of all time…
    The ACC inherits that from UConn… Just because Louisville has been decent over the past two years does not mean they are “far superior”.
    Did UConn beat Maryland this year is football… Oh that’s right they did… And in ND stadium 2 years ago… Oh that’s right they did…they have come a long way in 12 years and will continue to do so.

    • None of that’s really true, though.

      Louisville’s only been in the Big East since 2004. And in that time, they’ve won a football title (and the subsequent BCS bowl game), been to two Final Fours and have appeared in three Big East basketball championship games, winning two. There’s also the two national championships they won prior to joining the Big East.

      You’re also using a couple notable wins to define a team, and then that one against this year’s Maryland squad that’s going to finish 4-8 and is leaving the league anyway. It’s also increasingly evident you don’t know anything about conference realignment. There are two questions: do you make the conference’s football product better? That answer, for UConn, is no. They’re an even substitute for Maryland. The second question: Does the new addition bring in eyeballs via either continued success and/or new TV market footprint? That answer is also no. UConn’s market is already covered by Syracuse, BC and Notre Dame. Regardless of how well they’ve done since they joined FBS (and they have done very well), they fail to bring the conference additional prestige or an overwhelming amount of interest.

      Florida State and Clemson are the ones the ACC needs to please right now. Add a school that registers on the football front, adding market value and eyeballs. Louisville accomplishes this, and they’re the only attainable choice to do so. It’s nothing against UConn or its non-football sports. It’s just the facts of realignment.

  24. John – I appreciate your thoughts and analysis. I am a UConn alum, so my preference is obvious. Having said that, let me reference an analysis done by Nate Silver of The New York Times last year. He analyzed the NYC market re college football fans. The top six teams in number of fans in that market were (1) Rutgers – 20.0%, (2) Notre Dame – 9.2%, (3) Penn State – 6.4%, (4) UConn – 5.2%, (5) Michigan – 5.0%, (6) Syracuse – 4.6%. So while Syracuse football ranks well in the NYC market, UConn fares a little better. Also, UConn has a number of other sports in which its teams usually rank very high, including mens and womens soccor and womens basketball, softball and field hockey. Additionally, supposedly the Hartford – New Haven market is ranked 30th nationally (just under $1,000,000 homes) while the Louisville market is ranked 48th (about 670,000).

    • Thanks, Bruce. And I appreciate the extra information.

      I will say that I’m not morally opposed to UConn — something I feel is being lost in translation in a lot of the comments above — but simply putting on a Florida State hat and viewing the decision in that lens. They’re a serious threat to leave, and in evaluating the two options (Louisville and UConn), they’ll want the Cardinals.

      As far as the NYC market share numbers, I give Silver credit for undertaking the project, but as many have pointed out, the study can be slightly flawed, and the margin of error could easily be encapsulated in the difference between Syracuse and UConn (.6 percent). The argument isn’t whether or not UConn delivers eyeballs in New York or Boston, though. It’s whether or not UConn delivers any market the ACC’s current schools don’t already. And I’d find it hard to believe that’s the case. There are plenty of homes in the Hartford/New Haven DMA that are already interested in BC, Syracuse and Notre Dame, so they’re already interested in the ACC. In terms of Louisville, it’s a completely new market for the league. So despite New Haven/Hartford’s larger numbers in terms of volume, I do believe (though I’ll admit I don’t have exact figures on this) the ACC gets more NEW eyeballs out of Louisville.

      Again, I’d personally be fine with either. But in terms of keeping the league together, UConn — whether fairly or not — will be seen by FSU and Clemson as another “basketball school.”

      • I can understand Florida State’s and Clemson’s point of view. I am curious as to North Carolina and Duke’s reaction. Would they view such as the ACC football schools “controlling” league realignment? It’s been my impression, fair or unfair, that these two schools have traditionally been the dominant decision-makers in league matters.

        If I’m Delaney and I see those two schools having a rift with their league’s football powers, I might be inclined to offer the Big Ten’s 15th & 16th slots to them as both are good acedmic shools and such would expand that league’s market/footprint (and improve their basketball conference). I’d think those schools would seriously consider such an offer. Am I out in left field on this one or could this be a possibility to worry about?

        • It’s a definite possibility. Probably more than ever before. But I think both schools also enjoy their own regional hegemony, and the fact that their brands are seen to be so valuable to the ACC. In the Big Ten, they don’t stand out all that much — it’s the same reason Notre Dame preferred the ACC to the B1G themselves.

          As i broke down in comments above, the decision does come down to the school presidents, not just John Swofford. As such, UConn has five schools surely in their corner for reasons relating to academics, basketball or both: UNC, NC State, Wake Forest, Duke, UVA. If the league gives their three new members votes here (likely), then just three more are needed for UConn (BC, SU and Notre Dame are the only wildcards, mind you). If not, then they’re voting out of 11, meaning they’d just need BC to vote yes (not a given at all).

      • Keep in mind that much of the state of Kentucky watches Louisville games on TV, if not as fans, as rivals. The hatred runs so deep for many Kentucky fans that they will watch Louisville just to root on “dem other fellers”. That increases the 670K homes figure quite a bit (even if many of these other “homes” have wheels on them).

      • Disagree… The TV market is dominated in Connecticut by UConn and ND… I lived in Hartford for a number of years when UCONN had Donald brown etc and moved 2 years back… Never once was BC or Syracuse in TV… They are not carried at all by the local market.

        • Find that extremely difficult to believe. Tons of alums from both schools in Connecticut. So it’s not realistic they’d NEVER be on television, especially with ESPN deals covering both Big East play and ACC play. Also doubt UConn games are always at the same time as BC and Syracuse games. That’s not even an opinion. Just fact.

        • Conference realignment = destruction of college sports as we know it…
          Maryland cut 7 sports teams this year to get under budget and raised tuition 3% for in-state students… The average income earner struggling to put their child should not be subject to this garbage because some school has the “possibility” to earn more money with a move to the big ten due to the re-structuring of TV contracts??
          My argument is that UCONN is a great school as is Louisville and I obviously have a bias toward UCONN for personal reasons although I had many family members attend University of Louisville so I have no ill will toward them but this is all just a bunch of garbage.
          You would be fooling yourself if you think the big 10 network and longhorn network will stay this profitable… Nothing in this country is sacred anymore… $700 billion Medicare cut and the dipping into social security for our future John not the future of the senior citizens right now and you honestly think the government isn’t going to start dipping into the bucket??
          It’s just a matter of when it occurs will college sports survive.
          Academics wins all the time hands down… Always has always will… It’s what built this country and continues to make it great! The largest endowments come from the highest academic institutions in this countey.Focus should be on research and education not conference re-alignment and TV deals and you are naive to think that our government will allow this to happen.

        • Uconn delivers the New Haven Hartford market. No question. BC nor Syracuse are much of a blip on the radar in the state. Uconn does deliver part of the nyc market also because the largest county in the state is measured as part of the nyc market and not part of the New Haven Hartford market. Uconn is also the most popular school in Western Massachussetts as well. There is zero chance that Louisville has any market advantage at all.

  25. If the ACC wants Louisville they might be wise to make an offer ASAP. Given that Louisville is also a potential target of the Big XII, the Big XII could attempt limit the ACC’s options for expansion and hope in doing so that FSU and Clemson would want to leave the ACC. Of course FSU’s and Clemson’s decisions would hinge on the out come of Maryland’s buyout negotiation and what assistance if any they could get from outside sources.

    I’ve also heard that Louisville does have some friends at ND, NCst and Duke, I don’t know if those friends are strong enough to get votes from those programs (or even if ND would have a vote) but they apparently do exist. Louisville also does have some history with FSU, VT and Gtech from the old Metro days however I suppose that time is too far removed to have much if any affect on the current conference realignment.

    Do you think that the law suit that UConn was a part of from the first Big East raid might come into play or is that all water under the bridge? I’ve also have heard that BC is opposed to adding UConn, don’t know if that is true.

    • BC was opposed to adding UConn under the old ADs for both schools, and UConn’s old president. Now that all of those individuals have changed, there’s a chance that opinion’s shifted. But again, don’t know for sure.

      I’d agree that if Lousiville’s getting the offer, it should happen sooner than later. The ACC having a signed contract in hand from them will be a huge deterrent if Louisville suddenly felt the need to head to the Big 12.

      • I believe that the two new ADs for UConn & BC both went to Michigan and both had tenures as AD at MAC schools around the same time. So I believe they are on good terms. Plus BC did not try to block UConn’s hockey team from joining their league this past year. So I think that the BC issue is water-under-the-bridge”.

        Miami may be another story. I think there was bad feelings by UM re the lawsuit, etc. and I’m guessing they would not vote for UConn unless absolutely necessary. Sort of surprised that we haven’t heard much from them, but might be due to their wanting to maintain a low profile given their NCAA violations problem.

  26. I really believe that adding UConn will only create more instability. MUCH more. Will the same be true of Louisville? Maybe. But “maybe” and “definitely” are pretty far apart.

    If academics are really that big of a sticking point, then I say add Louisville and Georgetown. Georgetown can have the same membership status as ND, while keeping a foothold in the Washington, DC television market (something the ACC will have thanks to UVa and VaTech regardless). Plus, I don’t think there is that much of a difference between limiting non-football members to 1/16 or 2/16 (as opposed to half of the conference like the Big East).

    Oh, and f.y.i., I do not think Syracuse, Pitt and ND get to be voting members until they join. That is not to say they won’t be part of the conversation, though…..

    • Wouldn’t doubt it if SU, Pitt and ND didn’t have votes. Would only make sense, since they’re not members yet.

      How does UConn provide more stability? Beyond adding another member, I see that outcome pushing FSU closer toward the exits.

      And I’m highly doubtful the ACC adds another non-football team. Basketball doesn’t provide a ton of value in the TV contract negotiations. Though SU-Georgetown could make for a decent draw. But still, same point as the above one on UConn. Adding another “basketball” school just pushes FSU and Clemson further away.

      • I meant to say UConn only provides more INstability. It will upset Clemson, FSU, and to a lesser extent GaTech or Miami (and BC for other reasons).

  27. Louisville is a very well-rounded athletic program, perhaps THE strongest overall in the nation as evidenced by their new campaign “Louisville First, Cards Forever” campaign at . Problem: they’re not the absolute best in anything, which as a Louisville fan, looks like what the conferences unfortunately don’t want. It doesn’t make sense, but what about this realignment “war” does? (aside from $) I say, get back to the Metro Conference, Southwest, Big 8, Big 10, Pac-10 . . . was it broken THAT bad?

  28. I think USF would be a more logical and attractive option for a numbers of reasons:

    1. The Tampa Bay Area TV market typically ranks among the top 12 nationally
    2. Top 50 Nationally Academic Research Institution
    3. New state of the art Sports facilities for many of its teams have opened within the last 2 years (basketball, soccer, baseball, softball, with new golf course coming soon)
    4. Attractive market to host some of the conference championships, such as basketball and football as it has done in the past (while not having an ACC conference school nearby).
    5. Meteoric rise of its Football program (while down in the last 2 years) has been unprecedented in college football history. There is potential for more there!!
    6. Tampa Bay Area (and most of central and south Florida) is a football talent hotbed, excellent for recruiting and exposure to the ACC football brand.
    7. Ease of travel to/from Tampa and the general attractiveness of Tampa as a destination for visiting teams and fans alike (particularly in the colder months).

    • Add Louisville, Cincinnati & UConn to get to 16 teams. Two decent football adds and in new “footprint” areas for ACC. For football only, UConn switches between the two divisions each year (until Notre Dame ever decides to join for football too).

  29. Louisville and Cincinnati are a package deal they have been main rivals through c-usa and metro before being in big east and will be in acc or b12.

    • Since when do programs or conferences really care about things like that? Look at all of the important rivalries broken up by conference realignment already; Louisville/Cincinnati barely registers in comparison. No way those two are a package deal at all. Take a look at Louisville’s move to leave the Big East last year, too. Can’t tell me they’d even think twice about the Bearcats on the way out.

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