If it’s not already panic time in Greensboro, it could be soon.
Losing one of its charter members in the Maryland Terrapins may not look like complete doom and gloom on the surface. The newly agreed upon $50 million exit fee will be distributed evenly among the remaining conference participants. There’s already talk of adding teams like the Louisville Cardinals or the UConn Huskies.
But no amount of money or new teams is going to be able to quiet the internal concern. The warning sirens may not be sounding yet, but the weather moving in on the ACC radar looks devastating.
“If I were still a commissioner, I’d be concerned,” said former ACC commissioner Gene Corrigan who served in that post for a decade from 1987-97.
He’s not alone. One current ACC official who asked not to be identified while speaking with USA Today, indicated that if the $50 million buyout didn’t stop Maryland from leaving, it won’t stop other teams either.
Michigan Wolverines‘ athletic director Dave Brandon also made an extremely interesting statement on Monday, indicating that the Big Ten conference may not be done with expansion, saying, “ If we were to add two more teams and go to 16, I think that’s doable. Depending on where we added and who we add, that might be a very positive step for the conference, whether that’s done more near-term or long-term.”
This has to be of extreme concern to the ACC. The Big Ten also feels as if the addition of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish to the ACC in most sports was unethical and termed it as, “…coming out of their natural regions and into some of ours,” according to Big Ten commissioner Jim Delaney.
Some high profile ACC basketball coaches voiced their concerns, including the iconic Mike Krzyzewski who said, “I think the ACC is vulnerable right now, I’m concerned about our conference.” Notre Dame’s coach Mike Brey let his feelings be known saying, “Is the ACC stable? Are we OK or what are we doing here? Interesting times.”
Rant Sports’ Patrick Schmidt believes that the Florida State Seminoles should join the SEC. He points to the fact that despite their impressive 10-1 record, their BCS ranking may be dragged down by the ACC.
Let’s also not forget that the Big 12, which currently sits at 10 teams, has proven that they have no problem going eastward, adding the West Virginia Mountaineers recently. The prospect of playing teams like the Oklahoma Sooners and the Texas Longhorns is an extremely attractive incentive. The Big 12 would love to get back to 12 teams, but are being smart by waiting for the right teams to add.
The bottom line is this; all other ACC schools are of course going to say that everything is fine right now. No one is going to say anything close to, “Well, we’re thinking about leaving.” But those in the know are clearly concerned with the future of the conference. This will likely start a domino effect, and the pieces of this puzzle may begin moving sooner than later.