The nation’s first Super Conference?
By Derrick Stacy
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A strategically placed move that would help form the first legitimate Super Conference in the storied history of the National Collegiate Athletic Association.
Sam Pennington penned an article for this very website discussing the possible theory of the West Virginia Mountaineers and the Pittsburgh Panthers joining the powers of the Atlantic Coast Conference. He also discussed the topic on various sports talk radio stations around the south last evening. A strategically placed move that would help form the first legitimate Super Conference in the history of the National Collegiate Athletic Association. The implementation of the aforementioned teams would allow the ACC to geographically dominate the entire Atlantic seaboard from the city of Boston to the depths of Miami.
The question remains, "Is this proposed scenario even feasible?"
Financially, the supposed proposal makes perfect sense. With the likes of WVU and the Panthers from Pitt joining the conference, the ACC would claim complete control of the Pittsburgh media market. One may ask, "Why would you need West Virginia, instead of just Pittsburgh to garner control of that certain media market?"
Many people fail to realize is that the city of Pittsburgh is laced and laden with Mountaineer Alumni that have migrated to the larger metropolis north of Morgantown.
These transplanted individuals provide a stronger collegiate fan base than even the hometown Panthers provide. Pitt's campus, while located directly within the confines of the city of Pittsburgh, fails in providing an adequate amateur athletic following. The majority of locals prefer to swing the terrible towels at the professional atmosphere that is provided by the beloved Pittsburgh Steelers.
The aforementioned fandom of the Panthers fails in comparison to the fanatical brethren supporting the Mountaineers . A state of maniacal supporters that are willing to crawl across flames that the devil provides to catch a glimpse of the blue and gold parlay across the gridiron. Accompany this with the fact that the majority of the northern portion of West Virginia is already included within the Pittsburgh media market, and you have a match made in proverbial heaven.
You have now staked claim on two of the largest collegiate fan bases within the city, sans the fans of State College.
With that being said, it is apparent that the financial aspects of the move would be beneficial to the ACC as far as media relations and television sets are concerned, how would this move be deemed from a geographical perspective?
The conference has expanded recently, which lead to the divisional interface that is now represented. The ACC currently possesses Atlantic and Coastal divisions, which contain six teams each. However, the apparent namesake of the divisions do not necessarily pertain to the location of the teams (i.e. Virginia Tech in the Coastal). This preconceived notion that the labeling of a division does not necessarily predict the location of the teams, will allow for easy manipulation of the divisional format to supplement two more teams.
The ACC powers could easily maneuver the conference into a more functional North and South Divisional format. Using the base locations of the conference members allows for a perfect geographical matching of the teams.
NORTH: West Virginia, Pittsburgh, Virginia Tech, Boston College, Virginia, Maryland, Duke
SOUTH: North Carolina, North Carolina State, Clemson, Miami, Florida State, Wake Forest, Georgia Tech
Under this scenario you maintain many of your traditional rivalries, such as; The Back Yard Brawl and Florida State versus Miami, while allowing natural border rivalries to be played (i.e. West Virginia versus Virginia Tech, West Virginia versus Maryland, etc). The format also permits the allotment of schedule slots for other rivalries such as Boston College versus Miami and Virginia Tech versus Florida State to continue VIA one or two interdivisional games yearly.
It's fairly obvious that the above development is plausible in the two dominant aspects of conference expansion. However, would the strong armed power brokers of the ACC allow such a large change to occur? How would Duke and North Carolina receive the idea of adding two more traditional football powers to a conference that they are already competing at level closer to subpar than excellence. What about the possibility of adding two of the strongest competitors from the vaunted Big East to an already dominant stable of basketball teams?
Are they willing to implement this form of elite competition and possibly minimize their stranglehold over the conference?
That remains to be seen, but due to the financial positives and the geographical feasibility, this conversation will soon be broached. When that occurs, the ACC will engage themselves in a game of conference chess. Will they make the intelligent and aggressive move, and attempt to gain a distinct advantage over the competition?
Or will they move a lonely pawn forward and remain in a mediocre position throughout the future of the game?
Time will tell.