With yesterday’s news that the ACC is going to expand again, this time adding Pittsburgh and Syracuse, you gotta wonder, how much can you change a particular thing before it stops being that thing? Is the ACC still the ACC…even when it bears little resemblance to the thing that we all know and love as the ACC? Not really.
This shuffling of teams among conferences, which is getting alarmingly frequent, is beginning to feel a lot like baseball. MLB fans have been complaining for years that the players switch teams so often it’s almost impossible to root for a club anymore, because that club has no identity. What are you rooting for? A uniform? A front office?
There can’t possibly be anyone out there who thinks this expansion is a good idea. At least no one who doesn’t work for the ACC. These are probably the same jackasses who thought expanding the NCAA tourney to 100+ teams was genius.
But from our viewpoint, here’s why this move stinks:
1. It’s impossible to escape the feeling that this move is about one thing and one thing only: money.
Even the official press release could only conjure some lukewarm platitude about this expansion finally uniting the teams in the south with Massachusetts. That’s the reason? Geography? Of course what they fail to point out that there is only a Massachusetts team in the conference as a result of the last ill-advised and nonsensical expansion. Whatever the reason for this move, be it about football revenue or something else, you know the only reason this is happening is not because it’s good for sports or for the ACC, but because it’s going to make someone richer.
2. More of something does not make it better.
How often do greedy companies make the same mistake? How often does Hollywood? You liked Jaws? Well, how about three more of them? You like Starbucks? Well, how about two on every corner? The ACC used to be nearly perfect. Each team would play every other team twice during the basketball season. Now officials use some complicated formula to determine who plays who, leading to some teams getting easier schedules than others. Scheduling is about to become even more chaotic.
3. It dilutes the rivalries.
When the teams played each twice during the season, it bred familiarity among the players and fans alike. You can throw that out the window. What happens now? Every team plays each other once, with even fewer teams playing each other twice?
We look forward to Duke-UNC. We look forward to Maryland-Duke. We look forward (sometimes) to UNC-NC State. Is there anyone out there who’s going to eagerly await the annual Wake Forest-Syracuse throwdown? Nope. Georgetown is Syracuse’s rival, not anyone in the ACC. Or Georgetown was its rival. Can you still be a rival when you don’t play? Who knows. The addition of these two teams is going to make the conference schedule a lot less special. Period. There are going to be a lot more shrug-worthy games per year between teams that have no history. NC State-Pitt anyone? You frothing at the mouth to mark that one on your calendar?
The rivalries that currently exist in the conference took years or decades to build. They grew out of repetition, with teams playing each other twice, year in and year out. Perhaps new rivalries could build, but how long will we have to wait for that? And will we want to?
On the plus side, it may not matter. Conference membership will probably change again in a few years. We can see the press release now: “The ACC is proud to welcome UCLA and Oregon as members, extending the reach of the Atlantic Coast all the way across the country.”
It doesn’t feel like a very good day to be an ACC basketball fan. If anyone can defend this decision, please let fly in the comments below.