The Atlantic Coast Conference has announced its schools have signed over their television money to the league — the grant of rights, which was popularized by the Big 12 as a mean to solidify a fracturing conference. Here are the winners and losers of the ACC decision.
Loser: West Virginia. If the grant of rights holds, then the Mountaineers appear stuck on an island, far removed from their fellow Big 12 members. That’s a logistic and cultural problem that most people recognize but not all wanted to address. Ten years of being 87 8 miles from your nearest conference member will get old.
Winner: Lawyers. When the next wave of restlessness hits — when someone wants to poach the Big 12 or the ACC, or someone wants to break away from its grant of rights to go elsewhere — then we’ll find out how much legal standing the grant of rights has. Most attorneys seem to think it’s solid. But it certainly would make an interesting lawsuit.
Loser: Big 12. The Big 12′s grand hope for possible expansion — that the ACC would fracture, and the likes of Florida State and Clemson and Virginia Tech might become available — has been stunted. The Big 12 likely will be what it looks like now, for the foreseeable future. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. But the best expansion options are gone.
Winner: Connecticut. If the Big 12 ever decides to expand, UConn might move up to No. 1 on the list. The Huskies would give West Virginia a semblance of a neighbor. My advice to Connecticut — invest heavily, HEAVILY, in football or get out of the rat race.
Loser: Connecticut. If the ACC doesn’t lose schools to the Big Ten, there appears to be no room for UConn, which has won three NCAA basketball titles in the last 15 years and made the Fiesta Bowl in the 2010 season. The ACC is where Connecticut wanted to be.
Winner: Cincinnati: I’m not kidding about this West Virginia problem. That’s an issue that won’t go away. The Mountaineers are not so much better off than Hawaii, which has forever tried to find a stable conference home. If the Big 12 ever has to address the issue with a partner for West Virginia, Cincinnati is at least on the list. Same advice for UConn goes for Cincy.
Loser: Boise State. If conference expansion tempers, then the pressure lessens on the Pac-12 to go beyond a dozen and keep up with the Big Ten and SEC. The Pac-12 would have to be holding its nose very hard to invite Boise State, anyway. Now it looks like there will be less reason for the Pac-12 to make such a move.
Winner: Wake Forest. The have-nots of beleaguered conferences have had uneasy days (Iowa State, anyone?). The Demon Deacons feel much better today.
Loser: An NFL-style playoff. If the ACC had fallen in status, the stage was set for four major conferences. You could have the champs play a four-team playoff, or include runnerups for an eight-team playoff. The new football committee will be an improvement over polls and computers but still will be a guys sitting around deciding things, rather than results deciding things. That’s what happens in the NFL. Results determine.
Winner: American Athletic Conference. The new league made of Big East and Conference USA refugees — Tulsa, UConn, Cincinnati, South Florida, Central Florida, Houston, SMU, etc. — could have some years of stability, with the potential to grow into a solid conference. We’ll see.