Could the Backyard Brawl be heading south?
By Sam Pennington
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If the past is an indicator, the question isn't if we are going to see more expansion, but when. Could West Virginia and Pitt, hated rivals, be in the mix?
The ACC is a conference that is merely in shambles. It is a conference that consists of 12 teams and only two of the twelve are consistently toward the top of the conference year in and year out. Which two? Florida State and Virginia Tech. Not only are they the most consistent winning programs in the conference, they also are the #1 rivalry inside the conference. Why? It’s because these two teams have a history. Dating back to the ’99 season, Florida State put an end to VT’s undefeated season in the BCS Championship Game. In 2005, the Hokies played the Seminoles to earn a chance to the BCS Championship Game (if USC or Texas lost their regular season finale); however, Florida State upset the Hokies. The rivalry is so intense, that even ESPN’s College Gameday has it circled on their list of sites for that weekend.
What is wrong with that?
The Florida State / Virginia Tech game is the only game in the football year where the ACC is receiving media attention consistently. After the VT / FSU rivalry, perhaps the second biggest rivalry in the conference is an FSU / Miami or Boston College / Miami matchup.
What’s the issue?
Miami hasn’t been a solidly consistent winning program since the Larry Coker era from 2001-2006. Even though Coker’s 2006 year was a disastrous one from the recent Coker’ Miami teams of the previous years, he helped maintain that winning tradition from the Butch Davis years.
Boston College is better than good program occasionally, but doesn’t have that brand name in the ACC like an FSU, VT, or Miami.
Again, my point is that there are two, maybe three teams at best that are at the top of the ACC year in / out. The ACC needs to either add teams to their conference to add more rivalries and better competition, or this conference is in trouble. With that being said, this is where I came up on this weeks story.
I ran across a post on BlueGoldNews.com that has the boards talking of expanding the ACC. The teams that some fans would like to see added to the ACC are West Virginia and Pittsburgh. The Backyard Brawl! This is ideal and would be the perfect move for the conference to acquire these schools. The addition of these two schools would add another huge money making rivalry to the conference every year.
Inside the boards this week, I checked out the buzz was this particular topic. Here are the Best of the Best viewpoints from the West Virginia message boards this week.
“The "rich history"of Pitt is just that, history. And the Academics stuff is pretty funny, considering academic rankings are a fraud, but honestly, FSU and Clemson were not exactly Harvard and Yale when they came into the ACC were they? WVU is in the Pittsburgh media market per Nielsen. We have a football program and a basketball program that are on par with other ACC schools. We have a fan base that will travel, and the ACC needs more fan bases that will go to the championship game and bowl games. Miami=fair weather, Maryland and UVA also the same. BC is a small fan base, similar to Pitt. Wake and Duke, do they even have football fans??”
“I have made that point both here and on the Pitt board. The two of you need to act in concert to protect the Back Yard Brawl, to sell it and the entire region of WV and western PA. Luck is smart enough to know that, and to know that the best thing for WVU as a university, and thus for the state, would be to enter the ACC with Pitt.
One of the more interesting aspects (because all ACC fans bases but BC generally dislike, or hate, the current divisions) of thinking about the ACC adding Pitt and
WVU is that would almost require divisional realignment, and we could basically have North/South, but with Miami among the more northerly schools.
BC - Wake
Pitt - GT
WVU - NCSU
UMD - Duke
UVA - UNC
VT - Clemson
Miami - FSU
Those divisions would provide many fierce rivalries, as well as produce enough good contempt between them to keep a Championship Game redhot even when neither school has a shot at the BCS Championship Game.
I assume that the ACC office has figured out that BC can never halfway deliver Boston, much less New England, much less any other part of the northeast, and so knows that adding schools that can be natural rivals rather than adding schools located inside large TV markets is what makes sense.”
“Timing is everything in life. If the ACC wants to act, now is the freaking time to do it. Some old proverb about time on the pot, hmmm... Anyway, adding Pitt and WVU to the ACC is a no brainer, IMHO. I also think Pitt and WVU are a package deal and a good fit for all the reasons you mention. While you're at it you might as well add 2 of the 3 of Syracuse, UConn and Rutgers. Syracuse and UConn would be my picks and go to 16.
Again, timing is everything. Paul Tagliabue has done something the dummies from Providence could never do: Position the Big East for a lucrative TV contract. I don't believe they told ESPN no thanks to their enriched deal without having Comcast / NBC already giving them a gentlemen's agreement. Once that TV deal is ratified and each Big East Football member gets $15MM - $18MM annually by signing on with Comcast, there will not be an incentive to leave the Big East.”
“As for the helmet image above with the hypothetical divisions, it will never go down like that (geography) because Md and UVa will essentially be removed from its long lost brothers. A more plausible scenario would be simple additions to the existing divisions.
I would prefer a 14 team league with WVa in the Atlantic, Pitt in the Coastal and swap GT with BC.
Now look at the annual games for WVa..... Pitt (designated rival), FSU, WF, NCSU, GT, Md and Clemson. Then every year you will also play any two of Miami, Dook, UNC, VT, UVa and BC.
What is your position on this buzz surrounding this idea of adding more teams to the ACC? If not WVU and Pittsburgh, which teams would peak your interest, or should the conference remain without adding additional teams? Here’s your chance to weigh in and discuss!
Each week I'll be checking out message boards and forums to see what fans are discussing. The hot topics that have us talking. You never know, your thoughts might make it into my column. Also, each week I'll list the best posts I see in my message board travels.