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As the ACC and the Big East twirl in the breeze, everyone is uncertain what the future holds.
This is the time when all members of the ACC gather round and hold hands and say that the conference will exist forever and nothing and no one will divide the conference and…wait, no it isn’t. It’s the time when everyone starts to look out for their own self interest.
Including, it would seem, Virginia Tech athletic director James Weaver. Appearing on a local Virginia radio show tonight, Weaver was asked about switching conferences in light of the recent Maryland departure. He responded, “The answer to that is Dr. Steger and I meet about once a month…and we will be ready for whatever comes in the future.”
Asked in particular whether he expected interest from the SEC on expansion, Weaver replied, “I really haven’t thought about it because the discussion has just come about three or four days ago. I’d like to defer my comments for right now, but there may potentially be some interest.”
These quotes come to OKTC from @sth_hokie a producer on the radio station that aired the comments.
We’ve requested the full audio from the station and will post it as soon as we receive it.
After OKTC published this piece, Weaver clarified his remarks to David Teel, saying, “I just can’t believe people are misrepresenting what I said.”
“There’s nothing happening in regard to Virginia Tech going anywhere. I don’t know how to say it any clearer than that.”
So, yeah, the ACC is wobbly, the equivalent of an investment bank during the sub-prime mortgage crisis. It isn’t just that the conference has to be healthy, it’s that the conference members and everyone around that conference has to believe it’s healthy as well.
When it come to realignment, the mere perception of weakness can turn into actual weakness.
And right now there’s certainly the perception of weakness in the ACC.
Of course, Maryland leaving is a pretty strong sign that all is not well in the ACC.
With the Terrapins likely to challenge the $50 million exit fee and Florida State and Clemson looking at the Big 12 for the superior football opportunities available there, it could be a dangerous time for the ACC. Of course, Louisville, Cincinnati, and UConn are clamoring to get into the conference — but that’s because those schools are in the Big East, in the midst of a five-alarm fire — meanwhile every school with Big Ten, Big 12, or SEC options is suddenly worried about the future of the conference and trying to find out if there’s a better way out.
Virginia Tech has to be aware that the Big Ten is courting the Virginia Cavalier program and do the Hokies want to be left behind with the North Carolina schools if Virginia decides to explore that option? Does any other program with options to leave now want to be left with the North Carolina schools? Basically, do you trust your other conference mates to do what’s best for themselves or what’s best for the conference?
The four schools in the state of North Carolina are supposed to be the bulwark of the conference, but are all the North Carolina schools even committed to the ACC? My read on the N.C. State front is that lots of Wolfpack fans would love to be in the SEC. Could Virginia Tech and N.C. State to the SEC happen even quicker than any of us imagined?
Right now Florida State, Clemson, and Virginia Tech seem pretty wobbly ACC allies. If those schools tried to leave, can you imagine a conference of Miami, Georgia Tech, North Carolina, Duke, Wake Forest, Boston College, Pittsburgh, Syracuse and N.C. State having much football traction?
If you added Louisville, Cincinnati, and UConn, you’ve basically just remade the Big East.
And would Georgia Tech and N.C. State really stay committed to that conference if the Big Ten and the SEC were extending offers?
The best protection the ACC has right now is a vigorous defense of that $50 million exit fee.
But just how iron clad is that exit fee?
Remember when Texas A&M and Missouri were going to have to pay $30 million or more? (They paid $12.4 million.) Remember when the Big East schools were going to have to stay with the conference for three years before they could leave? Yeah, how’d that end up working out for West Virginia? (Answer, the Mountaineers left with less than a year’s notice).
When it comes to conference buyout language, nothing so far has been iron clad. Which is why I think Maryland will get out of the ACC for much less than $50 million. And, rest assured, whatever precedent Maryland sets will govern every other team. So the ACC better fight like hell to make the Terrapins pay $50 million.
Because if Maryland can get out for much less than $50 million and the SEC wants to extend its empire into Virginia and North Carolina just in time for the launch of the SEC Network, would Virgnia Tech and N.C. State not leap at the opportunity?
Sounds like that wouldn’t surprise Virginia Tech athletic director James Weaver and based on his answer to tonight’s questions the Hokies sound like they’d be pretty damn receptive to SEC contact.
Is the ACC raid continuing?
We’ll find out soon enough.
Earlier today we said the future of the Big Ten and the SEC was to have 16 members each.
Could the future be here already?
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