Josh D. Weiss-US PRESSWIRE
Do I buy it? Not for a second. Am I intrigued by it, enough to write about it? You betcha.
It all started a few days ago with a West Virginia website, followed up by some radio host, and then finally a tweet from a 247 Clemson affiliate site that was later deleted. It's expansion in a nutshell, a bunch of random rumors from all the wrong places tying together. But then again the same thing happened, to a lesser extent, with the Maryland rumors, and people belittled them, too. And look what happened.
But no, I still don't necessarily buy any of it, because unlike the Maryland rumors, it doesn't feel like these are coming from the right places. And the 247 guy deleting his tweet is a pretty damning indictment of the quality of his information, or at least the way he presented it. So, no, don't believe it, except for a little reinforcement that, as much as the ACC may wish it so, this thing ain't over. But as we realized just a few weeks ago, you're silly to disregard anything in this crazy process.
So: probably nothing, but it's a slow day, realignment is fun to talk about, and we need the hits, so let's keep talking about it. Because I certainly do think that at some point the Big Ten will add another two more, almost certainly attempting to mine the ACC in the process. (That's another reason Maryland was so important: Loh is the only university president who vehemently believed the exit fee was illegal, giving the other ACC schools encouragement that they could take down the man, man.)
There are two potential plays. The first is to keep heading east and south, adding two of Virginia, UNC, and Georgia Tech. GT is the easiest add, since they don't have a state legislature that'll flip out when they propose leaving little brother Virginia Tech and/or N.C. State at home (because the latter two aren't getting invites, full stop). That's the big question for UVA/UNC: will they move without Tech, State, and to a lesser extent Duke? If it was up them they probably do, but it may not be up to just them.
Shame, too, because they're obviously the two best choices. It'd keep contiguous with Maryland, giving the conference some semblance of geographic sensibility, would add two premier institutions still kinda-sorta fitting with the Big Ten ideal, and add the booming populations in Virginia and Carolina. Tech is nice, but there's something vaguely Boston College-y about it: sounds nice, but it might be just a bit too small to deliver what you want it to deliver.
Thing is, UVA and UNC aren't likely to move (or get permission to move) unless it's clear the ACC is falling apart, and right now the ACC isn't clearly falling apart. (It's falling apart, just not clearly.) So a school like Georgia Tech might have to be the second domino, shaking Virginia and UNC awake to the gravity of their situation. (Alternatively, this could all just be a play and Tech is getting strung along in order to achieve the same end.)
The second possibility: maybe it's still all about the Great White Whale, Notre Dame. Weaken and weaken and weaken the ACC, steal another - whether it's GT, UVA, or UNC - in attempt to get them freaking out about the stability of their "conference" and reconsider the B1G. I hugely doubt that given that both sides feel kind of burned by the other, but Delany has proven in the past to be a master tactician. Hey, maybe they don't even want to add ND at all anymore and just want to mess with them by making them squirm about their non-football future.
Don't know. But I do know, or at least feel pretty confident, that there are more shoes to drop. It's just a matter of when.