Pittsburgh, Syracuse Join ACC: Impact On Boston College

New ACC

There's no telling whether the conference carousel has stopped spinning for the ACC. My guess is we'll know more tomorrow when both Texas and Oklahoma announce their intentions, though it's looking more and more like both those programs (as well as Texas Tech and Oklahoma State) are headed west.

But for the time being, let's take a look at how the ACC's two newest additions impact the conference and Boston College.

I don't need to tell you that the additions of Syracuse and Pittsburgh to the ACC is a BIG, big win for Boston College. Above all else, it validates the school's 2003 decision to leave the Big East. Syracuse was part of the original ACC expansion plan as a way of expanding into the northeast portion of the country. That original plan is now realized with a conference that spans from Chestnut Hill to Miami and picks up two new states and markets between Massachusetts and Maryland. See above map for our new geographical continuity and dominance.

TV dollars. One of the biggest benefits of this move is that it will allow the conference renegotiate its television rights deal with ESPN. Part of the reason that there were (what now appear to be bogus) reports that John Marinatto was gonna make it rain with the Big East's next television contract was due to the fact that the Big East boasted the largest television footprint of any BCS conference. New York City, the largest market in the country, and Pittsburgh (24th largest) were a big part of those unrealized valuations. Now with both those markets claimed as ACC territory, this should provide added value enough to get the ACC's media rights contract a little closer to the other BCS AQ conference contracts.

TV coverage. The addition of Syracuse, in particular, makes the Atlantic Coast Conference relevant in New York City. We'll soon find out how great the reach of "New York's College Team" really is, but ACC TV coverage in New York will be a huge boost to the conference and to Boston College. There are plenty of BC alumni living in the greater NYC area, but currently the ACC Network does not have an affiliate in the New York City area (though the ACC Network does currently extend to Syracuse and Albany). TV coverage in NYC will hopefully be added with the addition of Syracuse. 

Local rivals. A big criticism of Boston College's move to the ACC back in 2004 was that the school and the program abandoned longstanding rivalries with Syracuse (in particular) and Pittsburgh. Looks like the old gang is back together again. BC and Syracuse have met on the gridiron 46 times previously, with the Orange owning a 28-18 edge in the all-time series. The only program we've played more frequently is Holy Cross. Pittsburgh and BC have met 29 times, with the Panthers having a slight 16-13 edge in the all-time series. Football games in Syracuse and Pittsburgh are easy trips for Superfans from Boston and add to the already solid list of college football destinations on Saturdays. 

Conference football scheduling. My guess is you'll see the new look ACC move to nine-conference football games in relatively short order. Previously under the current conference configuration, the 12 ACC schools had studied moving to a nine-game schedule in the past and shot the proposal down multiple times. With 14 and potentially 16 programs, nine games becomes nearly essential. This helps BC when it comes to scheduling non-conference opponents and writing a check to MAC, I-AA and other pushover opponents. It also adds to the conference's TV inventory and is another bargaining chip in any renegotiation of the television contract.

Non-conference football scheduling. Syracuse was on BC's future non-conference schedule in 2013, 2015, 2017, 2018 and 2021 (home) and 2014, 2016, 2019 and 2020 (road). GDF's plan was to make this the Eagles final regular season game of the season each year against Syracuse. Obviously with the Orange moving to the conference, this contract will be voided and BC and Syracuse will likely meet annually in an end-of-season conference game. This frees up a slot on the Eagles' annual non-conference schedule, although BC will likely have one less non-conference game to schedule each season with a nine-game conference schedule (see above).

Get ready for an annual non-conf schedule of Notre Dame or other BCS opponent, UMass and a I-AA school. 

Conference tournaments and championships. For the ultimate f*** you to the Big East, Commissioner Swofford is toying with the idea of moving the ACC Basketball Tournament to MSG on a rotating basis. Now we are just thumbing our nose at the Big East.

Regardless of where the ACC Tournament is played, the additions of Syracuse and Pittsburgh open up the possibility of moving some of these conference tournaments and championships from the Carolinas to points further north. Even Baltimore, Washington DC or New York would be a welcome change of pace from a steady diet of championships played in North Carolina. We might even see renewed talks of hosting the ACC Baseball Championship at Fenway Park. Of course, only when the economy picks back up.

A positive is that we may seem a move north for some of these Championships, although this likely comes at the expense of the current ACC Men's Basketball Tournament format. Hopefully the ACC Tournament doesn't move to the joke of a format that the Big East Tournament became, which included inviting 16 programs (with plans of inviting all 17) and maintaining a double- and triple- byes format with teams beginning tournament play on the Sunday before the Championship.

Men's lacrosse. The addition of Syracuse lacrosse turns the otherwise laughable ACC men's lacrosse league -- with just four teams -- into the premiere men's college lacrosse conference in the country. There is at least some speculation that Pittsburgh could finally elevate its men's lacrosse program to Division I, giving the conference six programs and an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. The addition of Syracuse may also renew interest in fielding a Division I men's lacrosse program for both N.C. State and Boston College, who both fielded a varsity lax team at some point. For BC, the biggest hurdle is finding the extra women's scholarships to offset the addition of the scholarships needed to compete on the Division I level #TitleIX'd. Well, there's that, and of course the proper funding required to field a team.

Other Non-Revenue Sports. Interestingly, Syracuse does not field a varsity men's baseball program to get around Title IX restrictions. I believe that ACC by-laws require all members to participate in football and men's basketball, but I'm not sure that a similar rule exists for baseball. If not, this gives the ACC an uneven number of baseball teams with Pittsburgh (13). Football and TV is clearly driving the conference expansion party bus, but ACC baseball is something to keep an eye on given Syracuse makes the conference uneven. Particularly if the ACC isn't done expanding.

 

Overall, the additions of Syracuse and Pittsburgh are two strong additions to the conference. Boston College seems to make out even better than most. Even if the conference stops at 14, the ACC is poised to emerge as one of the biggest winners in the conference expansion arms race.

What do you think of the move and how it will impact BC? Your thoughts?

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