Originally created 07/01/03

Why not just take out an ad to find No. 12?

Since the ACC has clearly lost its way on the road to becoming a 12-team superconference, might I suggest a new and cost-effective approach for filling that last awkward vacancy?

Classified advertising.

That's right. For just a few dollars per line in most major newspapers, you can solicit bids and resumes from aspiring collegiate athletic programs ready and willing to fork over a few million dollars to become part of a once-exclusive conference that has chosen to sell its soul and tradition for a bigger seat at the football bargaining table.

Here's some suggested text to get the process started. Whether it belongs in the "For Sale" or "Help Wanted" section is up to the ACC's sage Council of Presidents to decide.

WANTED: One comprehensive national doctoral university with a $35 million athletic budget willing to participate and share the profits in a new athletic business alliance with 9 of 11 like-minded investors. Must have established Division I-A football program capable of beating Duke. Public and private schools welcome. Eastern time zone and exclusive television market a plus, but not required. Please forward all applications to John Swofford, care of the ACC in Greensboro, N.C.

Why any school would be willing to deal with a conference that treated suitors Syracuse and Boston College so shabbily - kicking them aside in a desperate attempt to save face and expansion momentum - is debatable. Still, there are a few applicants the ACC 11 might or might not like to interview for the part.

NOTRE DAME: Who wouldn't want the Irish, with all their tradition and an independent TV contract that is the envy of all aspiring super powers? Trouble is, Notre Dame isn't willing to dump all its familiar football foes - Southern Cal, Michigan, Michigan State, Boston College, Purdue and Navy - to play a bunch of Wakes, Dukes and Techs. Since ACC membership entails all-or-nothing participation, the Irish will likely have nothing to do with it.

LOUISVILLE: The Cardinals have an ACC-like ambition to raise their level of mediocrity in football. Unlike Miami and Virginia Tech, Louisville offers significant basketball perks that could help the bottom line. And it would divide the SEC's Kentucky market as the ACC has in South Carolina and Georgia. Trouble is, the Big East might get them first.

PITTSBURGH: Sure they're currently suing the ACC along with the rest of the Big East, but business is business (see Virginia Tech). Football is bred deep in western Pennsylvania, and the basketball ain't bad either. It's a new market, a big city and a US Airways hub. They could do worse.

WEST VIRGINIA: The Mountaineers would love to take their name off the lawsuit, but Blacksburg, Va., is about as close to West Virginia as the ACC is willing to get.

EAST CAROLINA: The Pirates want so badly to be equals with the Tobacco Road schools, but even the state Legislature can't get North Carolina and N.C. State to play their neighbors on a regular basis. Wishful thinking.

TULANE: The Green Wave is on the verge of athletic bankruptcy, so becoming team 12 might beat Chapter 11. But as tantalizing as a slice of the Big Easy is, I'm afraid this won't happen.

VANDERBILT: The Commodores could relate better to getting brained on the football field every week if they were doing it in the company of more academically inclined institutions.

CENTRAL FLORIDA: The way the ACC has mishandled this whole affair, don't think they'd steer clear of a directional school - especially one located in the heart of recruiting country. The Golden Knights are up-and-coming, and Orlando's Citrus Bowl would be a perfect championship game venue. Stranger things have happened.

BOSTON COLLEGE: Only a vote by N.C. State's president kept the Eagles out of this arrangement already. Maybe after leaving B.C. at the altar, the ACC could offer to pay for the reception and counseling and give it another try.

Thanks for your interest in the ACC. They'll get back to you if they think they need you.

Reach Scott Michaux at (706) 823-3219 or scott.michaux@augustachronicle.com.


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