Many folks scoff when I suggest academic reputations and rankings will matter if the ACC reconfigures during the current conference musical chairs madness. This is about football and money, not necessarily in that order, they remind.
Granted, Benjamins and blitzes are the primary forces here. But anyone who dismisses books and brains doesn’t understand the ACC.
The ACC is the only Bowl Championship Series conference with more than half its members (seven of 12) among the top 50. All seven are among the top 38, three more than any other league.
No ACC school is below 101st, and none has been below 112th since 2006. Moreover, the ACC is the only BCS conference to have at least one top-10 school and all among the top 120 every year since ’06.
The ACC rankings:
North Carolina 29th.
Boston College 31st.
Georgia Tech 36th.
Virginia Tech 71st.
This explains, in part, why during its 2003 expansion the ACC targeted Boston College, Miami and Syracuse (No. 62). It also helps explain why Virginia Tech was an acceptable alternative to Syracuse when then-Virginia Gov. Mark Warner intervened on Hokies’ behalf.
Given that ACC presidents – it’s the presidents/chancellors who vote on membership applications – value academics, it’s instructive to check the U.S. News ratings for some of the schools that an expanding ACC might court.
Connecticut and Pittsburgh tied at 58th.
Texas Tech 160th.
Louisville and West Virginia tied for 164th.
Texas makes zero sense geographically and in the ACC would be more isolated than Gadhafi. But the Big 12 school is among the original eight so-called Public Ivies, as are ACC staples Virginia and North Carolina.
Having three of the eight – no other conference has more than one -- would be an academic coup, if the ACC wanted, or needed, to grow.
(Per Wednesday's print column, bloated conferences of 14-16 members are a dicey propostion.)
But for all of Texas’ assets – academics, national television appeal, top-tier programs in football, basketball and baseball – would the ACC accept the Longhorns if they insisted on bringing Texas Tech along?
Perhaps most important, how would the ACC, which has divided revenue equally for more than 20 years, handle Texas’ Longhorn Network, worth a reported $15 million annually? Could ESPN, which is orchestrating the LHN, and is the ACC’s primary television partner, broker a deal?
If the Big 12 splinters, we may soon learn the answers.
In fact, Chip Brown of Orangebloods.com, a website covering the Longhorns, writes that if the Big 12 collapses with Texas A&M heading to the SEC, and Oklahoma and Oklahoma State to the Pac-12, the ACC is "gaining steam" as a new home.