If it’s Saturday, no matter how late, it’s the roundtable. I ask the staff a question and share their answers with you.
The ACC apparently might be about to explode/implode. The Big Ten has said at the moment they are done expanding, but do we think that changes if these 7 teams (at least) become available? Which of these 7 (noted in the below tweet) make sense for the Big Ten to go after?
Clemson, FSU, Miami, UNC, NC State, Virginia & Virginia Tech are “The Magnificent 7” ACC schools, sources told @ActionNetworkHQ. These schools, @RossDellenger reported, have met in past several months, w/lawyers examining grant-of-rights to determine just how unbreakable it is.…— Brett McMurphy (@Brett_McMurphy) May 15, 2023
If my dad reads this I want him to know that the best thing the Big Ten can do is get rid of Penn State and go back to 10 teams. Now that that’s out of the way I’ll give you my real answer. Right now the Big Ten has 14 teams, starting in 2024 the Big Ten will have 16 teams. For a conference that prides itself on its academic credentials the math isn’t mathing. So I assume they want to either A. Keep it an even number of teams or B. (the more likely scenario) Get to 20 teams and split into two 10 team divisions. I think they eventually go back out west for 2 or 3 of the teams so that leaves me two from this ACC bunch.
The ones that make the most sense to me are Virginia and Virginia Tech. Sure, there’s not a huge television market in play here but if I just had to pick two that’s who I’d pick. Culturally they just feel most similar to the Big Ten. Virginia is strong academically and Virginia Tech has a good engineering school. Those are my choices, then we, much like Gimli, Legolas, Aragorn, and the people at the Battle of Helm’s Deep we will “look to my coming at first light on the fifth day, at dawn, look to the (west)” (yes, I changed it from the East to the west, it fits my narrative.)
If the ACC is imploding and these teams are available, I think it becomes a seriously relevant time to add two of them and then add two more from PAC and get to 20 teams. In this scenario, you’d likely want to go to four 5 team divisions.
Firstly, the conference is already adding USC and UCLA but likely needs to add two more of those teams from the West Coast to really make it worth their while. I’d say Oregon and Washington would make wonderful additions to the B1G branding in grabbing the Seattle, Portland, and the national branding that Oregon enjoys with Nike. The other brands out in the PAC just don’t move the needle enough in what is now the dominant question in college sports: television revenue. Stanford or Cal just don’t move the needle enough.
Secondly, you have to think Clemson and Virginia Tech jump to the SEC immediately if given the chance. That would leave a great foundation of FSU, UVA, UNC, NCST, and Miami to choose from to gain a foothold into the deep south the B1G needs to create a true national brand. Given those options, I don’t think there is a bad option as all four are great academic institutions with good followings nationally. If given those options, I’m taking North Carolina and leaving the Florida schools to join the SEC. I’m also breaking the rules a bit and finally getting Notre Dame into the B1G because they ‘technically’ are an ACC affiliate. In that regard, here is what those divisions would look like:
First of all, I think the Big Ten is not going to be happy until it gets to 20 teams and I propose it is then called the Big Ten (x2). I’m going to split these teams up a bit and run through them on how likely it is for the B1G to go after them.
Clemson: Nope. Clemson will be an SEC school and everyone knows it.
Miami and FSU: I’m pairing the in state teams because that seems to be the norm for expansion teams. I don’t think this happens even though it could add another corner of the US to the Big Ten landscape. Like Clemson, these teams scream SEC.
UNC/ NC State: It could happen. UNC would definitely bring another hitter to the basketball landscape but could there be a world where there is no UNC/Duke conference matchup?
Virginia/ Virginia Tech: This seems like the most likely option. These schools seem to fit the mold of the Big Ten best and they are pretty close to Rutgers and Maryland. But who the hell cares about geography when teams from Los Angeles and New Jersey will be in the same conference?
My recommendation: Add none of the 7, pick up Notre Dame, the two Oregon schools to sure up the west coast, and Iowa State to give the Hawkeyes a friend, then divide the conference into 4 divisions and have a yearly event in basketball pitting the Indiana teams against the main North Carolina teams (sorry Wake Forest) similar to the crossroads classic.
I’m really not fond of expanding anymore at this point. I’m already struggling to comprehend some of this tip times when we play UCLA or USC and now if add more we are gonna just have to start dividing the conference. That being said, for football Clemson and FSU would be a good grab but I see maybe them going after UNC or Virginia for basketball. The competition would be good and the Big Ten would easily be the strongest conference.
Geographically speaking, Virginia or Virginia Tech would make the most sense, but with the addition of USC and UCLA, the Big Ten has shown that geographic sensibility isn’t a top priority when it comes to new additions.
The conference can say they are done with new additions all they want, but if Clemson and their South Carolina football money were to secede from the union, they would surely consider the opportunity to have them join the conference. Clemson has the fourth most desirable athletics program in the country according to Sports Illustrated, and money talks. And when money talks, the Big Ten listens.
With college football being the driving force in athletics’ revenue, Clemson joining the Big Ten would make it almost indisputably the premier conference in college sports. Would it cause additional strain on the athletes? Sure. But as the wise David Cox D.D.S. always says, “Just when you think it’s not about the money, it’s about the money.”
As the ACC expert on staff, this is much to-do about nothing. Don’t expect the ACC to break up anytime soon, this is more of a rebellion against a terrible media deal. It’s funny that UNC is involved because their hand picked commissioner (recently retired ACC commish John Swofford) is responsible for the deal that all but guarantees that the ACC will fall even further behind the SEC and Big10 in terms of revenue.
In theory, if this were to happen, the Big10 is in a better position to grab the premier teams than you might think. Conference expansion is all about T.V. market, and the SEC is already in many of these markets. Clemson, for example, shares a small state with the U of SC. They bring a national brand, but don’t help the SEC in terms of the T.V. market. You also run across the fact that teams already in the SEC don’t want to bring in teams from their home state. It’s long been rumored that South Carolina, Kentucky, and Florida have an agreement to block the addition of Clemson, Florida State, Miami, and Louisville. Texas A&M is fuming that their old foe and Texas is back, but they’re new SEC money, and Texas is...Texas. None of the ACC schools bring the same cache as the Longhorns, in terms of marketability and national appeal.
My Top 3
UNC fits what the Big10 wants in terms of academics and their focus on sports outside of football and basketball wouldn’t fit in the SEC. They would have to do the split conference thing in sports like soccer and lacrosse because the SEC doesn’t host those sports. For example, South Carolina’s soccer teams play in the Sun Belt Conference. I don’t see the Tarholes (ahem Tarheels...sorry old habits die hard) giving up some of their premier programs to join the SEC when they can keep most of them in the Big10. Throw in their status as a “blue blood” on the hardwood and UNC to the Big10 makes the most sense.
Clemson is the only team in the list to bring recent, sustained football success. They don’t fit the Big10 in some aspects, but like Purdue, they’re a land grant Ag and Engineering school. They also bring top notch soccer, golf, baseball and softball to the table. They have a solid academic profile and further expand the Big10’s reach into the south. While opening up the state of South Carolina to the Big10 for football recruiting isn’t a huge deal, keep in mind that I live in Georgia, and Clemson is about a 45 minute drive away. 4 of the last 7 football National Championships reside within 100 miles of each other. Adding Clemson also brings a good chunk of Georgia to the table.
Florida State and Virginia are a toss up, with Virginia fitting the Big10 profile better, but Florida State brings football and football drives expansion. The Noles are also a team that brings in parts of Georgia and gets the BIg10 a crucial foothold in Florida. Like Clemson, FSU looks more like an SEC school than a Big10 school, but I doubt the Gators want Noles in their SEC territory. The academics at FSU are fine and they bring good basketball and baseball.
Outside Looking In
UVA - Makes sense in terms of TV expansion, but doesn’t bring much in terms of football. It would be similar to the Big10 adding Rutgers to get into New Jersey. Sure, it’s gets you into New Jersey, but does anyone in New Jersey care about Rutgers football.
V. Tech - Like UVA, they fit the expansion profile, and bring better football history, but things haven’t been the same since Frank Beamer left town. They don’t bring much outside of football. 10 years ago, Tech and Clemson may have tied for 3rd on my list, but the last 10 years hasn’t been kind to V. Tech on the football field, meanwhile Clemson has 2 National Championships.
N.C. State - You either take UNC or N.C. State unless the Wolfpack convince UNC to make them a package deal. There is no reason to bring in 2 schools this close together in expansion, and UNC is simply better by every metric.
Miami - The Hurricanes were supposed to be a premier addition to the ACC, instead they’ve mostly been a dud in terms of football. We’re not having this “break up the ACC” conversation if Miami lived up to their reputation. Folks, as my knees will attest, the 80’s and 90’s were a long time ago. I don’t see the Big10 bringing in a private school without an on-campus stadium and an apathetic fan base. The Noles are the better football brand in 2023 and it’s not particularly close.