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The Good and The Bad of ACC Expansion

Conference expansion and realignment is rampant right now with college athletics being flipped completely upside down. Missouri and Texas A&M joined the SEC, the Big East added multiple schools in multiple sports and the Mountain West and Conference USA have merged in a move that is sure to make airlines happy.

The Atlantic Coast Conference refused to sit out the constant shuffling and added two basketball powerhouses to the already strong collection of schools.

The ACC will expand to 14 teams starting no later than 2014 (possibly 2013) with the additions of Syracuse and Pittsburgh. The expansion comes almost 10 years after the ACC’s first “Big East heist” that saw the conference come away with Miami (Fl.), Virginia Tech and Boston College.

Things are certain to change and, just like most things in life, there are positives and negatives to the future change. Along with having an already-great basketball conference gain two legitimate members, the conference members will gain more revenue with scheduling conflicts the likely downfall of this.

Additional Revenue

“Money makes the world go round.” The ACC isn’t above this old and often-stated testament to how the world really works. Money is the key in every single move that has been made dating back to the ACC’s first expansion to 12 teams.

New teams bring new markets that adds new customers, traveling fans and television watchers. The bigger the market is, the more revenue that can be made for the conference. Added markets make it easier for conferences to renegotiate television contracts and increase the yearly revenue stream.

It is estimated that the additions of Cuse and Pitt will bring every Atlantic Coast Conference team an additional $1-2 million and give the ACC a total of over $15 million a year just off the soon-to-be renegotiated television contract. The ACC has a strict policy of sharing their revenue evenly between all the schools in the conference.

Schedule

The ACC will go to a nine-game conference slate in football when Cuse and Pitt join the conference. The additional conference game means teams will have one less out of conference game to play with and many teams will be forced to cancel future series that have already been agreed upon.

While the nine game schedule brings an extra conference game, we’re likely to see less big time out of conference matchups for ACC schools in the future. There’s just less of an incentive to schedule big-time, traditional programs when you can schedule two FBS teams along with a game against an out of conference rival (take SC/Clemson for instance).

In basketball, the ACC is already suffering with scheduling problems with only 12 conference members. The additional two teams are just going to make things even harder. Traditional basketball rivals like NC State and Duke aren’t guaranteed two games a year and they only had one contest twice in the past three seasons (at Duke this year of course). Wolfpack fans have every right in the world to be upset about the Blue Devils not making the return trip back to Raleigh.

Recruiting

Adding teams to the conference also means more markets open up in the recruiting world. New York and Pittsburgh are now going to be considered ACC markets which will open up the recruiting pipeline in the conference. Conversely, Pittsburgh and Syracuse will look to other ACC markets for talent which could lead to players choosing them when they wouldn’t consider it before joining the ACC.
There is big-time football talent in both states and I don’t even think I have to mention the basketball talent that comes out of New York. Having these players at their disposal will only make the conference stronger and more competitive.

Future

The future of the Atlantic Coast Conference is strong and another future expansion is definitely not out of the question. There is some thought that the two additional teams was insurance in case the SEC decides to take an ACC team or two in the future. There is another thought that the ACC isn’t done and a 16-team conference is in the future.

In all honesty, it could go either way at this point. Connecticut is practically begging for a spot in the ACC but the conference is waiting to see what Notre Dame does. Adding Notre Dame is a no-brainer and UCONN is the logical choice to join them in the conference if/when they do join.

No matter what happens, the Atlantic Coast Conference is in good hands and is as strong as ever. It will be known as the greatest conference in college basketball while college football in the conference is on the upswing thanks to programs like Virginia Tech, Florida State, Clemson and Georgia Tech having recent and surefire future success on the gridiron.

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