July 1, 2003 It's hard to feel much pity for the Big East. After all, it shamelessly expanded through the 1980s and ë90s, raiding other conferences for top basketball and then football programs. The Big East was built on the concept that TV money was more important than oxygen and clean water, and now it is suffering because the ACC realized the same thing. This is like one shark attacking another. The seals and the tuna and the dolphins aren't exactly weeping for either one. Congratulations to the ACC and to its new members. You deserve each other.
Columnist Phil Sheridan, in the Philadelphia Inquirer
Virginia Tech can now see in the distance the be-careful-what-you-wish-for-segment of its grand switcheroo and coming-out party. It was tough enough for the Hokies to wheedle an invitation to the club they've always lusted after. The flip side is, it won't be a snap for them to make a dent in their new surroundings. That's the thing about pledging a fraternity. If the initiation fees don't get you, the hazing rituals will.
Columnist Bob Lipper, in the Richmond (Va.) Times-Dispatch
The ACC, please excuse the sacrilege, is poised to become a football league. Roll over Everett Case, tell Bones McKinney the news. For those of us raised on ACC basketball, this is unfathomable. Let the rednecks in the SEC and the no-necks in the Big Ten and Big 12 obsess over football. Basketball is our baby. The second baby, football, is on the way in the form of Virginia Tech and Miami.
Did someone say basketball? You'd never know it from the ACC's relentless expansion quest, but the conference has been known to make a jump shot or two. Given recent woes at North Carolina, ACC basketball could stand the jolt Boston College and reigning national champ Syracuse would have provided. Alas, Virginia Tech and Miami offer nary a spark. This did not matter. ACC expansion is about football, and the conference is bent on challenging the SEC for southern supremacy. Roll over Shug Jordan, tell Bear Bryant the news.
Columnist David Teel, in the Newport News (Va.) Daily Press
Getting Virginia Tech in the ACC is like waking up on Christmas morning and your present is a pair of socks. Who wanted the Hokies in the first place?
Columnist Frank Dascenzo, in the Durham (N.C.) Herald-Sun
The business of sports in America is business. Not sports. This was never going to be an easy venture. There was always going to be dissension. There was always going to be suspicion. There was always going to be backroom maneuvering and arm-twisting. The politicians were always going to get involved, and there was always going to be a lawsuit and there was always going to be an ugly clash between change and status quo. That's business as usual.
The business of sports has come to North Carolina, and this is what it looks like. It's sometimes ruthless and sometimes dirty. Sometimes it includes lawyers and politicians. This time it started with Miami, an old Southern independent, and included Syracuse and Boston College and Virginia Tech and the teleconference that was the Big East. The next time it could involve the old Southern independent that was the ACC. And maybe Notre Dame. And then we'll really get down to business.
Columnist Ed Hardin, in the Greensboro (N.C.) News & Record
With chancellor James Moeser of Carolina pushing a Miami-only compromise, the ACC grazed the edge of rational thought. Coach K and Duke bought the idea, which would have left round-robin basketball intact and made better financial sense. But fervent expansionists, ignoring NCAA movement toward allowing a football title game in 10-team leagues, wouldn't settle for just Miami. They pushed the number to 11 and presumably beat their chests later. Accountants may want to beat some heads after determining that Virginia Tech will not increase revenues enough to cover its slice of profit pie. With the climactic scenes in mind, the Big East lawsuit most likely will fall apart. No judge who watched the last two weeks of expansion ball could find the ACC capable of devising, managing and completing a shrewd conspiracy.
Columnist Lenox Rawlings, in the Winston-Salem (N.C.) Journal
So now we're at 11, and nobody's terribly happy. ACC commissioner John Swofford didn't get the 12-team conference he wanted. Duke and North Carolina didn't get the 10- or nine-team conference they wanted. Miami didn't get partnered up with Boston College and Syracuse like it wanted. Virginia Tech finally got the prom date it wanted, but not until the ACC blew the Hokies off so many times Virginia Tech actually joined the suit against the conference. Thousands of other people got their feelings hurt. It's a mess. And it will take years to clean up. And there's no rug big enough to sweep it under.
Columnist Scott Fowler, in the Charlotte (N.C.) Observer
In the short term, ACC expansion is a mess. In the long term, it will work out for the best. The embarrassment factor will gradually recede and become less painful. More money will begin to flow into the conference, which will be seen as a national football power. In college sports, there is something to be said for being the bully on the block. Duke and North Carolina understand this in basketball and they are about to get a lesson in it in football. The world turns; things change. The first 50 years of the ACC was a life about basketball. The second 50 years are going to be about football. It will be different. Lovers of soaps understand you only have one life to live.
Columnist Bart Wright, in the Greenville (S.C.) News
So who needs reality TV when you've got reality ACC? Forget putting the cameras on people in remote island settings or mate-searching manhunts. If you're going to monitor a dysfunctional family 24/7, do the Osbournes really offer anything more entertaining than what John Swofford's little empire has given us the last six weeks?
Columnist Gene Frenette, in the Florida Times-Union
The revelation here isn't that this is about money but rather that anyone would be troubled by the fact this is about money. One moment, we're smart enough to admit sports is big business. The next, we're stupid enough to condemn sports for acting like big business. That UM would opt to flex this power is nothing for which school officials need apologize. In fact, they should be applauded for it. They aren't being hypocritical at all. They're using their resources and talents to carve out their best possible position in the working world. This, incidentally, is a lesson many people learn while attending college.
Columnist Jeff Miller, in the Miami Herald
Throw your copy of the third Knight Commission Report on a bonfire. It was supposed to be a blueprint for reform in college athletics, but now it's worthless because one of its chief architects, Wake Forest president Tom Hearn, is helping escalate the arms race in college athletics. He should be ashamed of himself. It's been 12 years since the historic NCAA Convention in Nashville, the so-called Reform Convention, when Hearn stood up to the Southeastern Conference machine and demanded it stop with its athletic dorms, training tables, booster hijinks and scandalous behavior. Reform in college athletics had some real traction because of people like Hearn. He was one of the heroes. Hearn can come down from the pulpit now, exposed like an evangelist caught in a brothel.
Columnist Ray Glier, on NBCSports.com
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