With the news of the defections of Maryland (and also likely Rutgers) to the Big 10 conference, the ACC has some options to replace the Terps should they decide to expand again. Here is a quick breakdown of some of the schools on their radar:
1. Notre Dame
This is by far the best, and least likely option for the ACC. Earlier in the year, Notre Dame joined the ACC for all sports but football. With Notre Dame rising to No. 1 in the rankings, it would give the football side of the conference an immediate boost of credibility. Of course, there’s little to no reason for the Irish to want to make this move given the windfall they get in their independent TV rights, so it’s not a likely option.
This would be ironic, simply for the fact that Rick Pitino sung the praises of the Big East during its media day back in October. Pitino said that Temple and Memphis joining would “more than make up for” the defections of Pitt and Syracuse, to which Boeheim responded that Louisville would’ve jumped to the ACC (or Big 12) had they been given the option. Basketball would be a natural fit in the ACC, and, of course, the football program is the class of the Big East right now. Their academics aren’t up to par with the ACC, but there has to be a survival mentality at this point.
There is a calculated gamble here. UConn may or may not be a powerhouse in basketball with the departure of Jim Calhoun, and its football is mediocre at best. But it seems to make logical sense in keeping the New York and New England markets. This would also allow for the ACC to split into a north and south division. The north division would consist of the old Big East schools in BC, Syracuse, Pitt, UConn and Virginia Tech, and some combination of the Carolina schools in the mid-Atlantic. A potential hurdle is retiring Boston College AD Gene DeFilippo. He wanted no part of UConn being in the ACC as a New England rival, still upset over a lawsuit filed by UConn (& Pitt) in 2005 when they joined ACC. Calhoun famously said he’d never play BC again. Well, new AD coming at BC and new AD and coach at UConn so maybe it’s a new era.
This would open up the midwest market to the ACC, and allow the football schools to tap into a fertile recruiting ground. Their basketball team has also been a steady contributor in the Big East. Again, the academics isn’t there, but this is the new era of college athletics.
5. St. John’s
The main reason why Rutgers and Maryland were invited to the Big 10? Eyeballs on television screens, not the product on the field. Neither Rutgers nor Maryland were powerhouses in either of the major sports, but with the deal, the Big 10 network can now get into basic cable providers in the New York City market. St. John’s would certainly help the ACC maintain these two markets, while giving Notre Dame a traveling partner for non-revenue sports. St. John’s would also open up Madison Square Garden on a consistent basis for the ACC, which would be another slap in the face to the Big East.
See above. Just replace “New York City” with “DC.” I would also note that both St. John’s and Georgetown would help out with the lacrosse side of the equation, for what it’s worth.