Reminiscing About ACC Expansion

Memories can be a funny thing. I suspect that the trivial items that stick in our brains are somehow related to our individual personality. Some people tend to think (and remember) the best….and others the worst. Some people are so self-absorbed that they only remember things that directly impact them. Some people have near photographic memory with the ability to recall amazing and trivial details. I’m an engineer, not a psychiatrist or doctor….but I find this subject interesting.

I have always loved sports, but over the years I have developed an extreme distaste for most sports reporters. On this particular incident, I can remember the exact moment when my distaste for “sports journalists” began…the spring of 1983. I read idiotic report after useless commentary seemingly without end about the NCAAT that year. It quickly became obvious that intelligence, originality, and insight was not required for a career in sports journalism. (When you throw in the idiot Doyel, you can see that sports journalism hasn’t improved much over the intervening years.)

Lest you develop concerns for my mental well-being over those two disjointed paragraphs, let me tie them together. Bob Holiday at WRAL and I have completely different memories on ACC expansion plans and projections, If we give Bob the benefit of the doubt concerning possible Doyel tendencies, let’s see what you remember about ACC expansion plans and projections.

Bob’s Memories:

When proponents of ACC expansion first pressed their case in 2003, there seemed to be a tacit assumption that the new 12 team league, bolstered by the addition of Miami, Virginia Tech, and Boston College, would each year stage a championship game featuring at least one and possibly two legitimate contenders for the national title.

My Memories:

Strange, but I remember the original ACC expansion plan as Miami, BC, and Syracuse. In other words, one football school, one basketball school, and one that was sort of good/decent at both. So it seems to me that Swofford’s original plan called for a more balanced expansion than what we ended up with. But since Johnny didn’t get Dean Smith and Coach K on-board first, we ended up with VT instead of Syracuse.

I also seem to remember reading that the loser of a conference championship game almost never got invited to a BCS bowl. So the claim that ACC expansion had anything at all to do with generating two title contenders is somewhere between silly and bizarre.

How could anyone possibly guarantee a “legitimate contender” for the BCS championship game? Common sense would say that the best way to produce a championship contender would be one strong team playing in a weak conference (ie FSU and the 8 dwarfs or USC in the Pac-10).

The addition of a championship game gives your potential championship contender another tough game. Was the ACC championship game about producing national championships or about money from the next TV contract?

Bob’s Thoughts

Four years later, however, some still feel ACC expansion has not measured up…Expansion has brought in new revenue, but has also increased the pay out from nine schools to 12. At this point, each school takes in about $10. 9 million, same as in the nine team ACC.

My Thoughts

Who is this “some” that Bob refers to? Can someone point me to the commentaries, blogs, and message boards that are bemoaning how horrible ACC expansion has been?

Bob needs to do a little digging over where the money comes from that he is referring to. The one $11M figure he refers to combines TV money from both FB and BB, Bowl games, and NCAAT games. Throwing out the one composite figure with no breakdown proves absolutely nothing…especially if your commentary is focusing solely on football.

As I said earlier I am an engineer, not a business major. However, I have deduced that most business classes can be summarized in the following three laws:

– Make more money this year than you did last year.
– Whenever you can not make more money, make at least as much as you did last year.
– Never, never, ever make less money this year than you did last year.

I remember that the financial projections from ACC expansion had both positive and negative aspects. On the positive side, the addition of a FB championship game and the possibility of a second BCS bowl were added into the projections. On the negative side, the next TV contract for football was expected to be smaller than the existing one. In other words, ACC expansion was targeted at reaching Business Law #1 or #2, while absolutely insuring that Law #3 was met.

Bob’s Thoughts

The ACC’s new expansion-rich TV contract doubled football revenues and added markedly to the league’s national exposure on ESPN and ABC.

My Thoughts

Huh? How did the last two quoted paragraphs end up in the same commentary?

Bob’s Thoughts

But the arguments for expansion in 2003 suggested there would be more. The 12 team ACC was supposed to significantly increase the chance for the league to put two teams in the Bowl Championship Series (and bring in several million more dollars).

My Thoughts

“Significantly increase the chance” and “guarantee” are two completely different concepts. It looks to me like Bob is a little confused about the difference.

Bob’s Thoughts

Personally, I enjoy showing highlights on football Saturdays for a 12 team league, and there is no question the ACC generates more news since expansion. But for the “great football upgrade” to live up to its promise, the ACC must outperform the Big East and the Big Ten and challenge the SEC in most years. It must put more teams into the rankings and occasionally send two teams to the BCS. And win some national championships.

My Thoughts:

Finally, something we can agree on. If the ACC wants to be thought of as an elite football conference, then you have to win….bowl games, high-profile OOC games, and national championships.

But until then, the conference’s athletic department budgets are being buoyed quite nicely from the new TV contract for its football games. After all, that’s what expansion was really all about….wasn’t it?

If you weren’t around here during SFN’s dissection of Doyel after the Herbster bailed out of Raleigh, scroll back up and hit the links with his name. I think you will find both of those entries worth the time they take to read.

About VaWolf82

Engineer living in Central Va. and senior curmudgeon amongst SFN authors One wife, two kids, one dog, four vehicles on insurance, and four phones on cell plan...looking forward to empty nest status. Graduated 1982

General NCS Football

57 Responses to Reminiscing About ACC Expansion

  1. BJD95 07/24/2007 at 7:40 AM #

    You are correct. VT was the price of winning UVA’s vote, per the demands of state legislators and the Governor. IIRC, Swofford tried to persuade Dean and/or K that they had to vote for the lesser of 2 “evils” (the plan with Syracuse) or the “12 with VT” plan would get rammed through. However, they were too stupid and/or arrogant to be practical, and voted the way they wanted, leaving Swofford with no choice other than VT. UVA was the ONLY school pushing for the Hokies, and even then, only under duress.

    I think Swofford was aware of Dean and K’s objections, but overestimated UVA’s resolve to stick with the best plan.

    Another side note is I think that BC was very important to Wake (similar school in size and mission), which meant that they had to be included as well (could not swap them out for Syracuse). Generally speaking, the other ACC schools did want BC, though.

    Inviting VT was a huge boon for VT, while doing nothing to enhance the ACC’s national footprint. Every time UNC loses an in-state football recruit to the raiding Hokies, it should be pointed out that it’s their own damned fault.

  2. waxhaw 07/24/2007 at 7:52 AM #

    Funny thing is, without VT, expansion would probably be a failure in terms of on the field success. (money would still be a plus)

    Miami and FSU have really let us down. VT has been our only real power for the last year or two.

  3. Mr O 07/24/2007 at 8:53 AM #

    The crazy thing is that UVa’s football program was hurt most by allowing Va Tech in the ACC.

  4. BoKnowsNCS71 07/24/2007 at 8:54 AM #

    VT picked to be #1 in the ACC this year, projected be in the top 5-10 nationally, is doing better than most people would have expected. A good coach, long tenure, and an excellent staff of assistants who stick with him makes for a good program. But — every dog has his day (see Wake Forest) — success does not last forever (see FSU and Miami).

    If you want a real laugh. I remember when this was going on and a friend from Greenville told me that his Legislator was rushing to Raleigh because “He was going to get ECU in the ACC.” (God’s truth — His legislator and other ECU’ns thought they had a chance. )

  5. noah 07/24/2007 at 9:11 AM #

    Had I been in a position to vote on expansion, I probably would have gone along with the initial expansion idea. I would have done so grudingly, but I would have gone along with it.

    However, once VPI became the 12th school, ain’t no way in hell I would have gone along with it. And I still think UVa AD should have been immediately fired the minute he started working on the Hokie’s behalf.

    The conference expansion was remarkably short-sighted. Yes, it got a better TV deal and so far, it has gotten the league more money. I can only assume that the people pitching it and voting for it were people who didn’t plan on being in their current jobs for very long. None of them seemed to understand that today is not forever.

    The two things driving ACC expansion were the desire to set up TWO Miami-FSU football games a year and to make Thursday of the ACC tournament something people would watch.

    Yes, the first TV contract was bigger. But I’m not willing to say that the future of the conference is always going to be better because of expansion.

  6. westwolf 07/24/2007 at 9:26 AM #

    I like VT better than Syracuse.

    VT is further south, has a more likeable fan-base, has a better football program, has a state tie-in with an original acc school(Uva), a a personality/character to other acc schools…I just like them better than Syracuse.

    Adding Miami and BC still feels wrong. Neither one seems to “fit” with the original acc schools: BC is too far north, too far removed physically, and his situated in a northern city with no interest in college athletics. Miami is simply a rogue football program with no interest in hoops and an academic institution very disimilar to the rest of the original acc schools.

    I, for one, would go back to the days of the original acc schools in a heartbeat.

  7. noah 07/24/2007 at 9:29 AM #

    I disagree that Miami is dissimilar to the rest of the ACC. It’s an outstanding private school.

    However, I think their athletic department sucks great big donkey balls and I believe they are a stain on the ACC’s image.

    BC has been fine so far. VPI? Pffffft.

  8. RickJ 07/24/2007 at 9:35 AM #

    If my memory is correct, one of the underlying issues regarding expansion was to be absolutely certain the league would be included in any future BCS realignments. I believe the league felt vulnerable they could be left out of the BCS if they remained a 9 team league without a championship game in football.

    The clearest demarcation of the “haves” and “have not’s” in college athletics is inclusion in the BCS.

  9. highonlowe 07/24/2007 at 10:01 AM #

    Giglio has a decent post on ACC expansion, with proposed winners and losers. [a href=”″>ACC NOW]

    Before After
    Miami 20-1 14-10
    Florida State 20-4 14-10
    Maryland 19-5 11-13
    Clemson 13-11 13-11
    Virginia 13-11 12-12
    N.C. State 13-11 8-16
    Boston College 7-6 10-6
    Virginia Tech 11-10 20-4
    Georgia Tech 12-12 16-8
    Wake Forest 9-15 10-14
    UNC 7-17 11-13
    Duke 2-22 1-23

    Notes: Before 2001-2003; After 2004-2006

  10. highonlowe 07/24/2007 at 10:02 AM #

    yikes, sorry for the formatting errors

  11. TopTenPack 07/24/2007 at 10:23 AM #

    Just thinking about putting ECU in the ACC causes me to throw up in my mouth just a little. The ACC would disband before allowing a fifth NC school to enter the conference.

    BC and Miami still don’t feel right to me. One reason for BC was the Boston television market, but as we have found out, Boston has too many pro teams to care much about college sports. Miami might be a great university education wise, but the sports programs (IMHO) is a stain on the ACC.

    I like the addition of VT…Southern school and natural rival to UVa….

    If not BC and Miami, then which universities would you pull to replace them?

    South Carolina?
    Notre Dame?
    (as imposable as it might seem)

  12. BoKnowsNCS71 07/24/2007 at 10:39 AM #

    Although I hated SC when they were in the ACC and relished our ACCT wins over them — SC should never have left the ACC. Two teams from SC in the ACC would be good for travel and rivalries.

  13. noah 07/24/2007 at 10:44 AM #

    BoKnows – I think South Carolina would agree with you about that.

  14. Mr O 07/24/2007 at 10:51 AM #

    BC and Miami do offer some nice trips for those fans able to take advantage of away football games. This year we have BC in September and Miami in Nov. Unfortunately there is no Red Sox game the weekend of the 9/8.

  15. RAWFS 07/24/2007 at 10:59 AM #

    Top10, Notre Dame is a more likely ACC member than Tennessee. People here have no real conception of the rivalry that is Alabama and UT. It’s not terribly far behind Auburn-Alabama, which I consider to be a bigger rivalry than Duke-UNC in basketball. UT also has a nice one with Florida and with Georgia, and the friction is building rapidly with the Coots. Suffice it to say that the Vols would never leave the SEC to join the ACC.

  16. noah 07/24/2007 at 11:08 AM #

    Mr. O – have you ever been to a game in Miami?

  17. CaptainCraptacular 07/24/2007 at 11:09 AM #

    I personally am very glad it wound up like it did. My initial feelings I recall were hoping for some basketball balance, but VT grew on me as soon as the news broke. VT/BC just makes more sense than the Syracuse/BC package would have. Hell, VT is currently performing significantly better in the revenue sports combined than Syracuse (VT makes the NCAAT and Syracuse doesen’t + Syracuse football sucks).

    *And I still think UVa AD should have been immediately fired the minute he started working on the Hokie’s behalf.*

    I was under the impression it was the UVa chancellor that went out on a limb to bat for VT. Did the AD also?

    *SC should never have left the ACC. Two teams from SC in the ACC would be good for travel and rivalries.*

    I totally agree. While I like BC now that they are in, they don’t fit nearly as well as SC did/would.

  18. BJD95 07/24/2007 at 11:15 AM #

    I liked the BC/Syr/UM plan because it basically locked up the East Coast for us. It also kept from watering down hoops by adding the Orangemen.

    I think we needed to be a 12-team “power” conference b/c it should give us leverage to work with the SEC and Big 12 and force a playoff or some other football set-up where the power leagues make the rules. If the PAC-10 and Big 11 want to play, they need to expand as well. Notre Dame wants in? Join the Big 10/11, already. Everybody else gets whatever scraps are handed out.

    Assuming that happens, the ACC dominates the East Coast, SEC dominates the South, PAC-10 dominates the West Coach, Big 10/11 dominates Upper Midwest, Big 12 dominates the Plains and Southwest. I would rather NC State be on the inside of that power structure than outside it. Of course, to date the league commisioners have foolishly kept rules in place that help dregs like the Big East and free riders like Notre Dame. Maybe they’ll wake up when the next BCS-era TV contract doesn’t meet expectations.

  19. BJD95 07/24/2007 at 11:17 AM #

    To hammer the point home – a stronger Virginia Tech hurts UNC, NC State, UVA, and Maryland disproportionately. ACC membership has been a huge boon to the Hokies. Only NC State and the Terps can be acquitted of screwing themselves with their expansion votes.

  20. CaptainCraptacular 07/24/2007 at 11:43 AM #

    ^ *To hammer the point home – a stronger Virginia Tech hurts UNC, NC State, UVA, and Maryland disproportionately. ACC membership has been a huge boon to the Hokies.*

    If you are referring to their recruiting as mentioned earlier, has it really helped them that much? They have been nationally relevant since the mid 90s, when they went to 2 Sugar Bowls and 1 Orange Bowl in a 5 year span (one of which was the BCS title game). For nearly as long I seem to recall reading about them being players for recruits from North Carolina. But I am no expert in the subject of recruiting.

    Point is, they already had a lot of leverage here with their program and their nearby location well before they joined the ACC. Has the decline of UNC football post-Mack helped them steal recruits as much as joining the ACC has helped? That along with Amato’s primary focus on Florida. Something to think about.

    Its true, there’s no question joining the ACC has helped them in basketball, but I don’t see them hurting our recruiting in hoops, or competing with UNC or Duke in that regard. They may hurt UVa in hoops, but thats debatable.

  21. 66pack 07/24/2007 at 11:44 AM #

    ever notice how ncsu grads downgrade ecu-much like unc grads downgrade ncsu grads. soceity must have a pecking order.

  22. Pack92 07/24/2007 at 11:52 AM #

    I always wondered about the Syracuse deal as well. Noah, why was Pitt never considered? Good school, good athletic history (football and basketball) and fanatic fans. It’s a heck of alot easier to get to than BC or Syracuse.

    SC should have never left. I think they have regretted that since the day it happened.

    SFN, as an engineer don’t EVER ask yourself why a writer is not concerned with details! It’s a good story! So what if a few details are skewed? We technical people are incapable (or just refuse to) of thinking like that.

  23. joe 07/24/2007 at 11:58 AM #

    The story at the time was that Chancellor Fox did not want to vote in BC because she was hoping another team would take their place. All that did was delay BC’s entry by 1 year.

  24. scpackman 07/24/2007 at 12:00 PM #

    Va Tech like football success is something we should definately aspire to. They are in a similar situation with UVA as we our with UNC (sans the Jordan/Smith/ESPN) factor…anyway…with a little more luck and definately better coaching I think we could inch our way up and be a top 25 team and have the occaisional run with greatness like we did 4 – 5 years ago.

  25. whitefang 07/24/2007 at 12:02 PM #

    I don’t think VT has added as much to the ACC, but I don’t see how they have “hurt” UVa, UNC, or NC State. UVa has been and is recruiting pretty damn well. They have had a number of kids who can’t get in academically, but how is that VT’s fault? UVa’s problem is more of a coaching problem IMO.
    I also don’t see how they hurt NC State and UNC any more either post expansion than before. Surely they were a pretty good football program before they came into the ACC. Probably better actually.
    Now I still don’t think VT should have gotten in however, but Syracuse wasn’t high on my list either.

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