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The ACC welcomes Miami, Boston College, and Virginia Tech
Oct. 27, 2003
By Rob Wilson, Assistant Athletics Director
Just a couple of weeks ago, the Atlantic Coast Conference announced the addition of the highly anticipated 12th member school. The reasons league membership needed to reach a dozen have been well chronicled, but really boil down to two: the ability to play a conference championship game in football and the ease of scheduling that an even number of schools affords and an odd number torpedoes. Having said that, the ACC has 12 members now and takes an even more prominent seat on a national scale at the table of all academic and athletics related activities.
The addition of Miami, Virginia Tech and now Boston College means that officials from all those schools will soon be sitting in their first meeting as ACC members. I won’t forget my first meeting with my ACC colleagues. The Georgia Tech representative greeted me before I could clear the doorway, “Thank God, now we’re not the new kids on the block.” Bear in mind that the Yellow Jackets had been competing for the ACC championship for 12 years before he made this nearly tearful greeting.
The ACC does drip with tradition and its members do rightfully delight in their status as one of, if not the, leading academic and athletic conference in the country. But that same sense of history has caused the old school media along Tobacco Road to tear at the idea of expansion, even the addition of Florida State, like a cat clinging to the last branch over the dog house. Some have basically accused the league of selling its soul. While a healthy amount of angst over change is normal and probably even proper, Shakespeare’s caution about protesting too much sure seems to keep rattling around in my head.
The Big Ten and Southeastern conferences have not dissolved into mini-professional leagues even though they stepped on tradition and added schools that many felt would lead to the demise of the college game as we know it. Both conferences had huge war chests with no significant drop in the performance of their teams to suggest that they needed the safety of numbers or more money. Their decision to expand suggests that the ACC would have been left at the station had it not positioned itself to include more members.
Florida State’s decision to join the ACC back in the early 1990s looks even more intelligent today than it did at the time. I would suggest that had the league had Miami, Boston College and Virginia Tech already in the fold when it came knocking, it would have made the call a no-brainer.
Now step back and look at where we are and where we could have been. If we had been in another league over the last 12 years, you can rest assured that the very few times we are not televised each season would have turned into the few times we were televised. I can assure you that the SEC would not have laid the TV scheduling book open and let the network pick the new guy on the block every week. Our fans would have been beside themselves because FSU would have joined a league and disappeared from their televisions.
Even the most cynical FSU fan would have to admit that the divisional match-ups created under the new ACC format is one that Florida State fans have nothing to complain about. I hope no one still believes that the SEC, to name one option, would have geared its scheduling so that the Seminoles would get a fair shake. They might have let us sit at the table but by the time the turkey came around we would have been nibbling on the bones.
The ACC’s growth up the eastern seaboard is significant for all the reasons you have read about not the least of which is the television sets that the Boston market brings. But it is the league’s stretch ever further down south in our state that may pay even deeper dividends for both FSU and the ACC.
Consider the fact that the conference can now hold a lucrative football championship game and that the ACC will begin searching immediately for a stadium in which to play this showcase event. The folks over at the Gator Bowl have been positioning themselves for years to become players in the ACC game. The Citrus Bowl in Orlando is headed by a former ACC associate commissioner and has made runs, including one successful move, at several regular season FSU league games. Both venues have earned their stripes as excellent bowl hosts and neither can be overlooked as the front runners to host the ACC Championship game. If that happens, the state of Florida will take on a distinctly ACC flavor should Florida State and Miami continue their positions as the conference’s top draws.
The argument is even stronger for the benefits that basketball, baseball and all other ACC sports will enjoy with the increased exposure and higher profile that the tournaments and championships will command.
So welcome Miami, Virginia Tech and Boston College. You are joining what in my mind is clearly the finest athletic conference in the country. You will find this league to be everything you had hoped that a conference could bring to your program. You will find schools with extremely high academic values and with rivalries that have every bit the level of importance as others around the nation, but have somehow managed not to have the bitterness attached.
One more thing, “Thank God, now we’re not the new kids on the block.”
You know that really does feel good!
Each school will play every team in its Division along with its playing partner school in the other division (the school listed across from them in this graph). In addition, each school would play two more schools from the other division for a total of eight ACC regular season games. So, FSU would play Maryland, Clemson, NC State, Wake Forest, Boston College and Miami every year, along with either Virginia, North Carolina or Duke. Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech are not options for FSU in the next two seasons.