Conference Realignment: ACC Should Think Big; Talk to Notre Dame, Northwestern, Penn State, Vanderbilt

With the Target Suddenly on Their Backs, the ACC Needs to Think Bigger to Save Itself From More Defections

I’ll start this off by saying, yes, I’m well aware of just how unlikely it is that the ACC will be adding any of the schools listed in the title of this article. Notre Dame was willing to come aboard because the conference was willing to allow them a partial membership, and I doubt the Irish will suddenly have a change of heart now that they (as an independent) are one game away from playing for a national championship. Northwestern and Penn State are part of the Big Ten — you know, the league that just poached Maryland away in the name of potential revenues. And Vanderbilt is part of the never-ending cash cow that is the SEC. So again, I know what the ACC is up against here. But with our backs to the wall right now, why not at least throw up a Haily Mary and see what happens?

The school-by-school pitches

Notre Dame: “The league’s value would be grow immensely if you were in the fold. Why wouldn’t you want to make your conference more valuable? Along with your desired non-conference rivalries with Pac-12 schools, the ACC just hands you yearly traditional rivalries with Pitt and Boston College, and allows you primetime matchups with the likes of Clemson, Georgia Tech, Florida State and Virginia Tech. Worried about staying relevant in New York City? Syracuse has shown it’s more than willing to play a home game in East Rutherford every year. Didn’t want to lose D.C. with Maryland’s departure? Virginia Tech or Virginia can head on up there every so often, to make sure you get exposure in that market. Plus, if you come on-board full-time, it’ll be much easier to convince other “bigger” programs to join up as well. Really.”

Penn State: “We know the Big Ten has it out for you. That fumble call against Nebraska was part of a much larger conspiracy by the league and the NCAA to truly stick it to you in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal. They’re going to continue to do so. Oh, and remember when Penn State was able to claim a good chunk of the New York market due to its proximity and affiliation to the B1G? Well that’s gone too, now that Rutgers has joined the conference. Speaking of the Scarlet Knights, we have a proposition for you: trade matchups with them and the Terps at noon for games against FSU, Notre Dame and Miami. We’ll even let you restart your old, bitter rivalries against Syracuse and Pitt. And we’ll let you win games and compete for a national championship. Seriously.”

Northwestern: “So now Northwestern is the only private school amidst 13 (?!) land-grant institutions? That doesn’t sound all that fun, or competitive. The ACC has five private schools — six with Notre Dame — in the fold, so you’d actually be amongst friends. In the ACC, you’d also get to collaborate with similar institutions in an academic setting, and maybe we’d even be able to hold that private-school round-robin so many folks have talked about for awhile. You’re not even the most popular team in Chicago now, so might as well join the conference of the team that is. Oh, and we’d actually broadcast your basketball games, so that’s incentive, right?”

Vanderbilt: “You’re in the SEC, but you’re not really IN the SEC, y’know? You’re the only private institution in the conference, and you’re forced to play football against southern land-grant colleges who outmatch you in resources by millions. Like we told Northwestern (yeah, they’re interested, too!), we have six private schools already in our ranks, including Notre Dame and your pals, Wake Forest. As an academic-minded institution, I’m sure Vandy’s always a bit down about the lack of similar schools in the SEC. Pretty much all of our members possess stellar resumes as places of higher learning. Oh, and all that improvement you guys are currently experiencing while still never having a shot at a BCS bowl game? We’ll give you that shot. Vanderbilt can be a star in the ACC, while still staying true to its core values of academic excellence.”

Again, I’m not delusional. Pitches from the ACC out to other major conference teams are likely to fall on deaf ears. But isn’t it worth a shot? The ACC has developed a reputation as Big East 2.0, and if it doesn’t work to fix that, it may disappear. Louisville and UConn will be there if we need to pick one of them. Might as well go to the big fish first to make sure they’re not intrigued.



14 thoughts on “Conference Realignment: ACC Should Think Big; Talk to Notre Dame, Northwestern, Penn State, Vanderbilt

    • Reading is fun. And I quote, the first sentence of this article: “I’ll start this off by saying, yes, I’m well aware of just how unlikely it is that the ACC will be adding any of the schools listed in the title of this article.”

      • Let’s have some real fun and fantasize about various conferences merging? That and then maybe leaving the NCAA (I hate them guys).

  1. Penn State would be an interesting prospect. After that huge miscarriage of justice that the NCAA and the B1G put them through in the wake of the Sandusky scandal. They would probably be the most likely to entertain an offer from the ACC. I wonder how the good folks in Happy Valley feel about their conference piling on to kick them when they were down after the Freeh report fiasco and the NCAA penalties?

    • No one at Penn State — fans, administrators or players — is happy with the situation between the school and conference right now. If there was ever a time the ACC could get an audience with them, this would certainly be it. Still, a major, MAJOR stretch. But absolutely worth reaching out.

    • You’re right about that – The B1G should go for Pitt too. Maybe UM will join ACC… no wait; I like you guys – I hate those guys.

  2. I think even if one of the Big Ten schools mentioned did have interest, it would essentially be a non-starter because of a grant-of-rights that the schools give to the conference. I’m not sure of the details but if I understand correctly they wouldn’t be able to get any revenue earned from their broadcasts if they left the conference.

    Penn State would have been a great fit for either the ACC or the Big East way back when. Now, I’m not sure what to make of it, but I’m pretty sure they’re staying in the Big Ten unless they’re kicked out.

    Vanderbilt in some ways is a pretty logical fit for the ACC. I doubt they’d leave the SEC though, despite how tough winning there is for them. Northwestern and Vandy are both in somewhat odd situations, being the only private school in their respective conferences.

    • From what I understand, the grant of rights only apply to current contracts. Since the Big Ten’s expires in the next few years, timing would allow them to exit with little lost revenue. Might not be the precise situation, but from what I’ve read, that appears to be how it all works.

  3. I like this, why not shoot for the stars and give it a shot. There is no reason not to ask, and plenty of good reasons to ask.

    • Thanks, Glynn. Exactly. This expansion is a very different environment for Swofford and the conference’s current presidents, so I think it’s worth changing up the thinking. They were far too quick to simply start up additional conversations with Big East teams, perpetuating its reputation as Big East 2.0.

  4. This girl “Penn State” MUST be asked to the expansion prom. I said MUST. After that offer ND fulltime status and then for a 16th team Louisville or UCONN would work.Just reminder the back of the bus treatment for PSU by all things BIG 10 didn’t start with Sandusky of the recent call at Nebraska,it’s been going on since the nittany lions enteren the Big 10.

  5. Check out theses articles and be sure to look at the dates

    Wisconsin Athletic Director Barry Alvarez said Friday that the Big Ten added Maryland and Rutgers, in part, to ensure that Penn State remained in the conference.
    If you’re looking at four superconferences down the road, one will probably be in the east (ACC), one in the west (Pac-16), one in the south (SEC) and one in the midwest (Big Ten).
    Do anyone think the current ACC with Big East Additions and Penn.St. brings a full in Notre Dame? Maybe ND asked for this to happen? Call me crazy but this whole thing would be over if the Big Xii didn’t have the GRANT Of RIGHTS! clause that they added after their first poaching. The SEC would take 2 schools, the PAC would take 4, and the B1G would fill their spots with the best Northern Big Xii schools left. KANSAS? KAN ST.? IOWA ST still regional schools. CINCY and UCONN in play too. Think about it for a minute!

    And has for Scandals the ACC has had a bit too. Duke Lacrosse, UNC classes, Miami benefits, and FSU benefits. Penn St. we know what happened and those people will go to jail for it. I think they would be welcomed with open arms!

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