Tuesday, May 15, 2012

what if part 2?

About two years ago (can not believe it's been that long) I wrote a post evaluating potential future ACC members should ACC expansion ever come to pass.  Lo and it came to pass these several months ago, and I don't have much of a right to complain because the conference picked two of the top three teams on my list.

I don't think we're done with conference realignment.  The Biggish Eastish is still a glommed-together disaster that's basically doomed to fail.  Especially once the BCS people get done figuring out whatever idiotic plan they come up with and the Biggish Eastish no longer has a magic key to the money chest.  "Autobids" are probably a thing of the past.  The other variable: Notre Dame.  I think for them, conference affiliation is creeping ever closer.  It'll depend at least partly on how they're treated in the BCS and what kind of bowl affiliations they can finagle.  Right now they basically piggyback off of the Biggish Eastish.  But that conference, once its marquee teams are Cincinnati and South Florida, is going to get the shaft like big-time in those affiliations, and Notre Dame may end up looking at the prospect of either making a four-team playoff or having its best bowl opportunity be St. Petersburg.  No sane person would try and predict Notre Dame's future right now, but wait til the BCS agreement is finalized.

The point being: I doubt the ACC is saying to itself how happy it is to be a 14-team league, yes sir, we're all done expanding.  Especially with this latest Florida State scare.  (No, they're not going anywhere.  Especially now that their president came out with a pros-and-cons letter of jumping ship and there were seven cons and four pros and the pros basically read like he was just acknowledging someone else's points and the cons were specific concerns a president would have.)  Even so, you know the ACC recognizes its position is solid, but not quite as solid as the SEC or Big Ten or Pac-12.  I'm guessing the conference is silently keeping the expansion door wide open.  It might not happen for another couple years, but you basically can't convince me this isn't on their minds.

With that in mind, this is the updated version of the expansion wish list.  Keep the above link handy because you'll need it to see the methodology.  It was a little long, so it's easier you just click over for a refresher than rewriting the whole thing.  The cliff notes: I rate the candidates on the following categories:

- academics
- football prowess
- basketball prowess
- quasi-revenue sports prowess
- non-revenue sports prowess
- cachet
- size
- geographical fit
- intangibles

Quasi-revenue sports are the following: baseball, lacrosse, mens' soccer, and womens' basketball.  As with last time, any score 5 or below (except those in size and geography) gets adjusted to zero, because there's a certain level below which everyone asks "why the hell?" and it doesn't matter if that team is bad or really, really bad.  A lot of the scores are the same as they were two years ago, but a lot are different, and those will be annotated.  Syracuse and Pitt, obviously, are removed from this version, as are Marshall and Buffalo for scoring too damn low last time, and finally West Virginia also because they seem to have found a stable (if geographically bizarre) home.  Other schools are added, but read on to find out who.

Central Florida

Academics: 4 (0)
Football: 4 (0) (2010 - 5)
Basketball: 4 (0) (2010 - 3)
Quasi-rev: 5 (0) (2010 - 3)
Non-rev: 6
Cachet: 2 (0)
Size: 10
Geography: 6
Intangibles: none

Totals: 40 unadjusted, 22 unadjusted

A few things have changed for UCF since we last looked at them.  Their baseball team used to be lousy - it's ranked in all the polls this year.  If that looked like sustainable success I'd make their quasi-rev number a six, but they still have no lacrosse team and nothing else worth having.  The basketball team had a good season, but that's all relative - a 6-seed in the NIT isn't something the ACC should be aspiring too.  Nor the Big East, for that matter, because when it comes down to it, this kind of addition is why the Big East is such a laughingstock. 


Academics: 4 (0)
Football: 7 (2010 - 8)
Basketball: 7 (2010 - 6)
Quasi-rev: 2 (0)
Non-rev: 3 (0) (2010 - 4)
Cachet: 6
Size: 8
Geography: 3
Intangibles: Used as an example by the BCS as to why on-campus playoff games are a bad idea.  It was a really stupid reason, but the underlying fact is still there - they're apparently the team people think of when they think "small crowds in small stadium trying to play big-time football."

Totals: 40 unadjusted, 31 adjusted

The Bearcats would still make a pretty good addition basketball-wise, and I think people who think schools exist to only play football and hoops would dig this idea.  Cincy football is in a precarious place, but they sit in some fertile recruiting grounds and would get at least a marginal boost from being in a conference that isn't falling off a cliff.  That said, they're probably not worth reaching into the Midwest and away from the eastern seaboard for, and the school presidents would never allow it.


Academics: 5 (0) (2010 - 7)
Football: 6 (2010 - 7)
Basketball: 10
Quasi-rev: 7 (2010 - 6)
Non-rev: 6 (2010 -7)
Cachet: 8
Size: 7
Geography: 7 (2010 - 6)
Intangibles: Made absolutely, positively no secret at all of their desire to follow Cuse and Pitt to the ACC.  CT politicians are working to try and make it happen.  But would Boston College allow it?

Totals: 56 unadjusted, 51 adjusted

UConn sorta kinda won another national championship since the last time I did this, but they were already at 10 in hoops so there was nowhere to go there.  We knew they were good.  Academics took a beating because that's one of the big reasons UConn didn't make the cut this past fall - their signature sport is performing so badly in the classroom that they're not even allowed in the tournament this year.  Big black eye there.

But geography got nudged upward a smidge because the ACC just added two very northern teams, so the Huskies wouldn't be as much of an outlier now.  This was the team I considered the best fit last time, and they're still at or near the top of the list.

East Carolina

Academics: 2 (0)
Football: 5 (0) (2010 - 7)
Basketball: 2 (0)
Quasi-rev: 2 (0) (2010 - 4)
Non-rev: 3 (0) (2010 - 4)
Cachet: 3 (0)
Size: 7
Geography: 10
Intangibles: none

Totals: 34 unadjusted, 17 adjusted

ECU's baseball team isn't as good as it once was.  Neither is its football team.  That leaves them with only two appealing factors: size and location.  So yeah - no.  One nice thing about the realignment shenanigans of the past few years is that people have gotten more educated on how this works, and thus you never see anyone suggest the ACC will add ECU anymore.


Academics: 4 (0)
Football: 6 (2010 - 5)
Basketball: 8 (2010 - 9)
Quasi-rev: 7
Non-rev: 7
Cachet: 6
Size: 6
Geography: 3
Intangibles: I guess Rick Pitino is kind of one.  Also, would be funny if they bolted the Big East without ever playing a season against future member Memphis after Pitino was telling them ADD MEMPHIS NOW DAMMIT for the past year.

Totals: 47 unadjusted, 43 adjusted

Louisville kind of impresses me.  They shouldn't be better than, say, Cincinnati, in anything - they play second fiddle in the state to UK (and wouldn't like hearing that, but it's true) and play football in a train-wreck conference, yet they've parlayed a relative lack of resources into things like a 34th-place finish in last year's Director's Cup.  That's above about half the ACC, including the ones who aren't here yet.  If the ACC expands westward to add a certain team in northern Indiana, my personal qualms with adding Louisville (such as their less-impressive academics) start to break down.  If not, they're not worth reaching for.  They'll probably be in the Big 12 sooner rather than later, though, if the Big 12 decides to hand out more invites.  They've made no secret of their desire to join.


Academics: 5 (0)
Football: 2 (0)
Basketball: 4 (0)
Quasi-rev: 6
Non-rev: 2 (0)
Cachet: 4 (0)
Size: 7
Geographical fit: 4
Intangibles: none

Totals: 34 unadjusted, 17 adjusted

It's kind of bad when the best thing you'd bring to the conference is lacrosse - and even that is mainly on the strength of this year's undefeated regular season, which definitely would not have been so against an ACC schedule.  UMass is an idea that sounds like a good one, until you dig a little deeper.  Their football team will be I-A this year, and playing in the MAC, because nothing says "Mid-America" like Massachusetts.  This is a school that I actually wish looked a little better, but they don't.

By the way: I had plans to include ODU in this list, but this has convinced me not to.


Academics: 9
Football: 6
Basketball: 2 (0)
Quasi-rev: 4 (0) (2010 - 6)
Non-rev: 5 (0) (2010 - 6)
Cachet: 8
Size: 2
Geographical fit: 9
Intangibles: Army-Navy game

Totals: 45 unadjusted, 34 adjusted

I scoffed at the idea of Navy joining a conference, and then they went and joined the Big East.  Well, I think I wasn't exactly wrong - the reason I figured they never would is because they would lose the ability to schedule their way to bowl eligibility.  But they're slated to join the Big East in 2015, and how hard could it be to earn bowl eligibility in that conference as it'll be constituted then?

They still would have a damn rough time in the ACC, though.  And their basketball, baseball, and lacrosse teams might never win a game again.  They have a hard enough time in the Patriot League, where they fit like a glove, by the way.  Besides, the 2015 start date is a little weird - it's probably so they can wind down some of their other contracted football series, but it also gives them time to reconsider, and time for the Big East to further disintegrate.  Still, I don't see the USNA ever joining the ACC even if they were willing to give up independence for the Big East.

Notre Dame

Academics: 10
Football: 7
Basketball: 7 
Quasi-rev: 9
Non-rev: 8
Cachet: 10+++
Size: 6
Geography: 2
Intangibles: Particularly passionate alumni base that tends to think that when the sun shone out of the crack of God's ass on the seventh day, it created the golden dome.  In other words they'll fit right in with Duke, which thinks the same about Mike Krzyzewski.

Totals: 59 unadjusted, 59 adjusted

Hoo boy.  First of all, is it weird that football is almost lower than basketball here, and that it is lower than both their quasi-rev and non-rev sports?  Yes, very, and it doesn't matter.  Notre Dame's presence in the league could mean an extra $5 million per team from the TV deal alone.  They'd be that big.  If they decide to join a conference, they'll have the Big Ten, Big 12, and ACC all lining up at their door, all with attractive sales pitches.  The Big 12 would probably give them the same deal as they have now in the Big East, which would let them continue to have their independence cake and eat it too.  The Big Ten would let them continue current rivalries, lower their travel costs, makes geographical sense, and offers the biggest money pile thanks to the BTN.  The ACC is the best cultural and academic fit.

So it would depend on what's important to the decision-makers.  If they were a normal school, they'd follow the money and pick the Big Ten.  But they are not a normal school.  They have weird thought patterns sometimes.  It's possible their alums get together and demand continued football independence, in which case they'd either stick with the Big East or go with the potential same deal in the Big 12.  It's possible they'd want to expand their presence on the eastern seaboard, where so many of their alums live, and associate with us hoity-toity academic types.  I have no idea.  But one thing is for sure: it would be an absolute coup if the conference were to lock down Notre Dame.  The crotchety old man in me would like to remind everyone that Indiana is like four big states away from the Atlantic coast, but I'd also like to think I'm pretty pragmatic, and this brave new world of expansion is breaking down my resistance barriers.  In other words, whether I like it or not we're not getting back the old ACC, so we might as well go big.


Academics: 7
Football: 5 (0) (2010 - 7)
Basketball: 3 (0)
Quasi-rev: 3 (0)
Non-rev: 3 (0) (2010 - 6)
Cachet: 5 (0)
Size: 10
Geography: 8
Intangibles: Biggest misconception in the whole realignment business is that you can add Rutgers "and get the NYC market."  No you can't.  Nobody cares.

Totals: 44 unadjusted, 25 unadjusted

Rutgers is some seriously low-hanging fruit.  If the ACC called up UConn and Rutgers tonight and said, hey, party at our place, they'd be over in no time flat.  The problem for Rutgers is that the only thing they bring to the table is the non-sports-related stuff - OK academics, big alumni base (that doesn't care), correct geography.  They had a solid football season this year, but I dropped them below the cutoff because in 2010 they had a very Rutgersesque year and now the only coach that ever won anything there is in the NFL.  Their hoops and lax teams would get slaughtered in the ACC.  About the only reason I'd want to take Rutgers is if we also took UConn and couldn't get Notre Dame, just so we would own the entire coast.  If Rutgers was the 16th team after Notre Dame was the 15th, I'd ask why we didn't go for UConn instead.  Or even Louisville.

South Florida

Academics: 4 (0)
Football: 6 (2010 - 7)
Basketball: 4 (0) (2010 - 5)
Quasi-rev: 5 (0) (2010 -6)
Non-rev: 5 (0)
Cachet: 3 (0)
Size: 9
Geography: 6
Intangibles: none

Totals: 42 unadjusted, 21 adjusted

Not on the ACC's radar screen.  Another Rutgers that doesn't bring anything, except with worse academics and less geographically smart.  Besides, you know how people don't like VT in the ACC because it took away our biggest recruiting advantage over our instate neighbors?  The Florida schools probably feel the same about these guys, especially since they like to trumpet themselves as the new big boys in town.  Bet you anything any time USF is brought up at ACC discussions, FSU shoots it down ten seconds later.


Academics: 4 (0)
Football: 6 (2010 - 5)
Basketball: 8
Quasi-rev: 1 (0)
Non-rev: 2 (0) (2010 - 4)
Cachet: 5 (0)
Size: 8
Geography: 8
Intangibles: Moving back up in the world after a pretty rotten '00s.
Totals: 42 unadjusted, 30 adjusted

Temple was invited back to the Big East after that conference unceremoniously booted them for sucking.  Hilarious, or really hilarious?  Of all the reasons to no longer take the Big East seriously, this is #1.  Temple gets a boost in football from last time even though Al Golden is gone, because they've been pretty good (for Temple) for a while, can probably continue that success in the Big East, and if they made it to the ACC, would be able to recruit on it and thus quite possibly never return to the hideously Templeriffic days of yore, such as when UVA visited Philadelphia to play the Owls and some rascally students who'd made the trip painted SCRIMMAGE on their chests.  Still, even with all that, this is not a good idea if there are other options.  Having them around in basketball would be fun, but they bring zero else outside the two main sports.


Academics: 8
Football: 1 (0)
Basketball: 8
Quasi-rev: 5 (0)
Non-rev: 4 (0)
Cachet: 5 (0)
Size: 4
Geography: 8
Intangibles: none

Totals: 43 unadjusted, 28 adjusted

Nova hasn't exactly made the jump to the highest level of football yet, so this is a little presumptuous.  Assuming they do, their academic and basketball prowess would make them a natural fit in the ACC.  But they'd really, really suck at football for a while; again, you don't just make the jump from I-AA to the BCS.  And other than a decent lacrosse team and some really good track and cross country folks (which really are the same team) they don't bring much else in the way of sports.  You can see why this name gets mentioned.  Even without a proper football team they'll end up higher than Rutgers on the list.  But not high enough - you really gotta be in the 40s, adjusted, before I even start to think it's a good idea.


As before, here's the chart, with a fairly obvious result:

This serves to illustrate less who I think is a desirable choice, because that should've become obvious by now (if it wasn't to begin with) and more to show that I think there really aren't that many of them.  Because I'm prone to skewing the desirability of geography in my head, Rutgers wouldn't be that far down the list if it were up to me, but this is supposed to be at least semi-objective.  And semi-objectively speaking, to be honest what this chart shows is that it's Notre Dame or bust.  Everyone else would be subtraction by addition, and only start to look good if for some reason someone leaves the conference.  You take Notre Dame if you can get 'em, add UConn for balance, and let it go at that. 


Anonymous said...

Very compelling analysis except that I just can't stand Jim Calhoun and the UConn administration that has put up with all his dishonesty and greed for so many years. Character counts and Calhoun's character counts against UConn.

Anonymous said...

UConn has clearly shown that it does not and has not had instutional control of the basketball program. While there are a few examples of out of control coaches and programs in the ACC, it is not a league known for such things. I would not accept any school into the ACC knowing that it had and continues to have an outlaw program that the administration either can't or won't bring under control.

Billy Bob said...

Sorry man,

but at this point I honestly don't care about the haughty academic puffery. And I ROOT for UVA for that academic symbolism.

But this is about MONEY. ATHLETIC MONEY. We lost a potentially great pickup in WVU because of what? Academics?


Then again because APPARENTLY this is not just about money for the ACC, FSU is still staying here for the time being.

Now if the S.E.X. were to come a calling, I am willing to bet, that FSU would leave for Dixie (and I couldn't blame em).

If we could get Notre Dame, that'd be FREAKING AWESOME. But frankly, they belong in the Big 10 (then again so does Mizzou, so what do I know?).

Rutgers and UConn it is. Combine with playoff, increased exposure due to better conference affiliation and East Coast populace, ACC would make a damn good conference.

Mind you it wouldn't be the same as the SEC or Big 10 in culture and achievement. Nor likely would we match the Pac-10 in terms of money.

But we would still be good.

Brendan said...

I couldn't blame FSU either. When the ol' SEX comes calling, everybody goes running.