Talk about a sudden lurch of the tectonic plates beneath the landscape of college athletics.
On Saturday rumors began flying that the ACC had been in talk with Syracuse and Pittsburgh regarding a jump to the ACC from the Big East. Those rumors quickly gelled into "holy crap there is something to this" last night as SU and Pitt's applications to enter the ACC had apparently been tendered. The ACC then announced a press conference for Sunday morning and it wasn't to announce the football players of the week. This morning the ACC has announced that Pitt and Syracuse have been accepted into the ACC. Unlike the last expansion the vote was unanimous.
It should be noted that this is not something the ACC did on a whim. UNC AD Dick Baddour said on Saturday prior to the UNC game that the ACC had been working on realignment issues for quite some time. ACC commissioner John Swofford formed a committee to look at realignment over a year ago disabusing us of the notion that Swofford was just sitting back. The committee included four ADs, four school presidents and four faculty reps with Baddour representing UNC.
Clearly this is not a move designed with ACC football as the first consideration, an interesting given conference realignment is being driven largely the pursuit of gridiron money. With everyone else operating their realignment plans with an eye squarely on football, the ACC is looking to basketball, at least for the expansion to 14 teams. Assuming the ACC goes to 16(which seems likely) could it be the ACC addresses football needs with those teams? Texas has already been linked with the ACC but there are signs this move for Pitt and SU may have cooled that relationship. In fact, according to Chip Brown at Orangebloods, the move for Pitt and SU speaks to the ACC desire to remain an east coast conference.
Another Big 12 administrator told Orangebloods.com the ACC appears as if it is moving on without Texas in its plans.
That Big 12 administrator said the ACC is reluctant to bring in Texas for three reasons: 1) how the Longhorn Network would be worked into its revenue sharing; 2) that the ACC sees itself as an east coast conference and wants to protect that by not reaching into the southwest (no matter how much TV money adding Texas would mean); and 3) Texas indicated to the ACC it would need to bring Texas Tech with them to the ACC, and the ACC members were not excited about that because of Texas Tech's academic standing (No. 160 in latest U.S. News and World Report).
If the ACC's east coast bias holds true then rumors of UConn and Rutgers being next on the list would appear to have legs. If this move means Texas does not come to the ACC I imagine there will be a few people upset with Swofford for not landing the biggest fish out there. However this is about grabbing new markets and with SU, Swofford gets the school he wanted eight years ago before Virginia dictated otherwise. Pitt gets the ACC into western PA and it also ensure Maryland and Boston College stay happy though the new $20 million exit fee will do more to keep current schools from getting antsy than anything else.
More on this as it becomes official including some analysis on how this will impact ACC basketball.