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Louisville Added to the ACC: What it Means for Syracuse, UConn & the League

Louisville will become the 14th member of the ACC, after Maryland’s defection. How does this affect Syracuse, UConn and the rest of the conference? Let’s break it down using nuggets from the stories swirling right now:

“People at UConn believe Louisville truly wants to be in the Big 12 and would bolt there still if given the chance. Perhaps that’s one reason why the ACC is going with Louisville now – it knows that, unlike Louisville, UConn and Cincy have no other place to go, so if the conference were to lose another school, each program would still be there, groveling to get into the ACC.” – San Francisco Chronicle

There has been speculation the ACC could invite three candidates, expanding to 16 members in football. But ESPN.com reports the conference will add only one member because the other Big East candidates (UConn, Cincinnati) have not other landing spots and will be available at a later date. – ESPN.com

Why rush to fill the Terps’ void? The top reason is to snatch a valuable commodity off the shelves in UofL. UConn and Cincinnati have no value to any other conference looking to add members. The Big 12 had courted the Cardinals before, but would the presidents of that conference want to be splitting up their profits for the Huskies or Bearcats? Highly unlikely. Basically, the ACC knew it was prudent to buy Louisville right after Black Friday, instead of waiting for the holiday shopping season to leave them empty-handed. UConn and Cincy will always be on the store shelves.

“There have been reports that some of the ACC’s better program schools (Florida State, Clemson, Virginia Tech) would be candidates to leave for other conferences.” – Hartford Courant

You have to wonder how much of this timing was pressure to get something done before Florida State and Clemson had eyes for another league. There was already saber-rattling by the Seminoles last year that the Big 12 was a better fit for them. FSU and Clemson are the two power-brokers in the ACC. They bring in the most football revenue, they have a football brand that sells well, and because of their resources and recruiting areas, should always be strong. If FSU and Clemson are content staying put, that’s as important as anything. If this steadies the ACC, then it had to be done.

“If anything, the Louisville-Maryland swap makes ACC sports a little stronger. Louisville has been consistently good in football since the late 1990s, except for a bad three-year run with Steve Kragthorpe as coach, and the men’s basketball program is among the best – and most profitable – in America. Both of those programs are an upgrade over Maryland.” – Yahoo Sports

For Orange Nation this sucks because it means smarmy Slick Rick gets his cake and can eat it too. The hypocritical Pitino went all high and mighty on us over the last year, suggesting his school would have more dignity than leaving a conference at the alter. Yeah right. We all knew UofL was leaving never-ending, stream-of-consciousness, sappy voice mails to the ACC league offices like John Favreau in Swingers. But, the football/basketball swap of the Terps for the Cards is actually a good one. I mean, the Big East just added the puke twins Tulane and East Carolina. The ACC brings in a nationally ranked football program and a Final Four contender in hoops most years.

“The Hartford/New Haven TV market is No. 30 in the country, reaching more home than the Louisville market (No. 48). In the latest U.S. News & World Report University Rankings, UConn was No. 63 whole Louisville was No. 160.” – Courant

Interestingly, the ACC chose sports over TV sets and academics. Many felt UConn was confident – bordering on arrogant – that it would get the invite when Maryland left, probably for the above reasons. One has to wonder Boston College’s role in this. While some believe the animosity is gone between the two New England schools, there’s no doubt UConn put up a stink when BC left in ’04, and the Eagles blocked the Huskies in ’11 when the ACC turned to Pitt.

From a recruiting standpoint, this is a win for Syracuse. While SU will be locked in some battles with UofL, it would’ve been much tougher to out recruit UConn if the Huskies had the ACC brand as well. There are scores of battles the Orange should win in Connecticut, New York and New Jersey over the Huskies simply because of the ACC. For the time being, this helps SU in a big way.

“The ACC is also reportedly trying to convince Notre Dame to abandon football independence and bring its venerable program to the conference. If that happens, the conference would need another program to balance out Notre Dame’s addition. And if there is another defection, the ACC could be in the market for still another addition.” – Courant

Here’s UConn’s shred of hope. They’ll hold onto the notion the next time there needs to be an addition, the Huskies will be it. But when (if ever) will that time happen if we’re waiting on Notre Dame? Emboldened by a spot in the national championship game, why would ND ever join in football? Maybe the days of the four-team playoff might scare them into it, but for the next few years the Irish will take their NBC money and stay put.

“In 2011-12, the latest date available from the Office of Postsecondary Education’s Equity in Athletics, Louisville had a budget of $84.4 million. The ACC’s highest budget was Florida State ($81.4 million), while Maryland’s budget was only $57.5 million.” – ESPN.com

This is an amazing factoid. UofL spends more money on athletics than FSU? Some critics say the Cardinals are spending above their means, but taking an athletic department that was bankrupt (Maryland) and swapping in one that spends more than the ‘Noles is pretty significant (although it’s sad we even have to pay attention to these types of stats).

“Last year, Louisville averaged 21,503 fans, the nation’s third-highest number behind only Syracuse and Kentucky. The city of Louisville also has had the nation’s highest rated college basketball television market in each of the past 10 years.” – ESPN.com

None of us like Louisville. We can’t stand Slick Rick. But at the end of the day, they care about college basketball as much as we do. So begrudgingly, we admit this is a strong move for the ACC. It would’ve been better if Maryland just stayed put. But in today’s business of college realignment, nothing is clean nor perfect. Louisville (blecch), welcome (errrp) to the ACC (*passing out*).

Posted: D.A.

The Fizz is owned, edited and operated by Damon Amendolara. D.A. is an ’01 Syracuse graduate from the Newhouse School with a degree in Broadcast Journalism.

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