To many outsiders, the ACC's move to add Pittsburgh and Syracuse to the fold appeared to be strictly a basketball move. The argument does have some credence, as the football prowess of the two schools has slipped considerably from the early-mid 2000's, when Boston College, Miami and Virginia Tech bolted from the Big East. But according to a new article from the Boston Globe, that may not be the case.
While Boston College Athletic Director Gene DeFilippo does admit that adding the schools will enhance the conference's basketball pedigree, some viewed it as a predatory strike to re-capture basketball superiority. Not true, says DeFilipo, who insists the expansion had nothing to do with basketball.
"We always keep our television partners close to us. You don't get extra money for basketball. It's 85 percent football money. TV -- ESPN -- is the one who told us what to do. This was football; it had nothing to do with basketball."
DeFilipo suggests, as many analysts have, that the ACC's action was about being proactive and preemting any move made by the Big 12, Big 10 or the Big East to expand. Pittsburgh had been listed as a target by the Big 12, and the move to add the two schools ensured the ACC would continue to exist as a conference. DeFilippo added that the moves were also geographically-motivated.
"We wanted new playmates and we wanted Eastern playmates. When the Big 12 inquired about Pittsburgh, we asked, Why let them come into our area?"
This has been reaffirmed on several occasions, not so much by what the ACC has said or done, but by what they have not done. For instance, Texas was in discussions to join the ACC, but was demanding for the ACC to also bring along Texas Tech or to create a western pod so that they wouldn't be so geographically out of place and by themselves. The ACC balked at the idea, not only because Texas Tech's poor academic standing relative to the ACC, but also because the geography just didn't work.
As for future expansion, the ACC has pretty much muddied the water. ACC Commissioner John Swofford has said that he is both open to expanding and happy with where the conference is at with 14. It may be a while before we know for sure.