May 30, 2012

Realignmageddon: Does Tech to the SEC ruin our recruiting hopes?

One of the rumors swirling about in realignment circles is Virginia Tech and NC State to the SEC. This is a cause of concern to some who feel that this will destroy our recruiting progress in the DC-Metro area and 757 as Tech will be able to sell its place in the SEC to recruits. But will that really happen? In this post I'm going to cite some examples of how being in a major conference does not necessarily help in recruiting as much as you might think. No Troy is never going to compete with Auburn and Alabama, and no Ohio is never going to flip a kid from Ohio State, but there are programs that are perennial powers in lower conferences that hang with, and sometimes even beat, their in state, big conference counterparts.

This article is written with two major assumptions. The first is that if Tech were to leave the ACC it would come on the heels of other major programs departing. FSU and Clemson to the Big 12, and NC State and Virginia Tech to the SEC. Assuming the Swoff goes out and gets UConn and Rutgers we are looking at a 12 team conference consisting of:

UVA, Maryland, Duke, UNC, Wake, Miami, Georgia Tech, Syracuse, Pitt, Rutgers, BC, and UConn.

This assumption leaves UVA in a conference in which it could easily compete on a yearly basis, if not dominate depending on how the chips fall.

The second assumption is that Tech becomes a middling SEC team. think Tennessee in recent years or South Carolina. They have their good years, but all in all they are a program that you mention in the second tier of the SEC, never really posing a threat to the big dogs like Alabama and Florida for supremacy.

With those assumptions made there are four in-state battles I've chosen to highlight, each of which I think will help calm the nerves of everyone who is sweating Tech's possible jump to the SEC. Each entry will have a chart of each school's Rivals recruiting score from the last five years, which should give you an idea of how well each school has done out on the trail. Let's get into the details.

Scenario 1: Kentucky
Participants: Kentucky and Louisville

This I think is going to be the closest comparison that we can draw. Kentucky is a flash in the pan school that occasionally will surprise some people with teams that are randomly good, ask Andre Woodson. Conversely after hiring Charlie Strong in 2010, Louisville is looking like a perennial powerhouse in the Big East. If you look at their comparison you can see that since hiring Strong, Louisville has consistently recruited better than Kentucky. This scenario stresses the importance of having success on the field as well as having a strong head coach over the prestige of a conference.

Scenario 2: Pennsylvania
Participants: Pitt and Penn State

This is the one that would give me the most pause. Penn State seemingly consistently out recruits Pitt. However let's think about the last few years. Pitt has been on a coaching roller coaster for the last decade it feels like, while Penn State is still Penn State. Given the traditional clout that Penn State carries, it's impressive that Pitt managed to beat them at all. If Pitt gains some coaching stability I think this battle will tighten up. Look at 2008, when Dave Wannstedt's regime was still solid. Pitt out-recruited Penn State rather handily.

Scenario 3: Florida
Participants: Florida and Florida State

Both of these schools are big boys in the recruiting world. When you think of SEC powers, Florida is pretty high up on that list. But with the exception of Jimbo Fisher's first class in 2010, you see a pretty even recruiting battle in Florida. And this doesn't even include the U and up and coming USF and UCF. There are a plethora of non-SEC programs in the state of Florida and they all seem to turn in top-50 classes every season, and two turn in top-20 classes annually. Obviously Florida State has no problem landing recruits, even though they are in a lesser conference.

Scenario 4: South Carolina
Participants: South Carolina and Clemson

Everyone ready to feel a whole lot better? Clemson beats South Carolina pretty consistently in recruiting. In fact with the exception of 2009 which was a perfect storm of the coaching transition to Dabo Swinney and South Carolina landing Jadeveon Clowney - the number one recruit in the country - Clemson is much better at recruiting than South Carolina. This is what UVA fans should hope happens. Clemson is a big-time program that gets big-time players for the ACC. If UVA can sustain success in the ACC it can out-recruit a Tech team that will likely experience some struggles as it moves to the SEC.

So what do all these charts prove? Well let's examine that. First off, it proves that playing in a big time conference is not necessarily as big a deal as we think. While you can sell being in a better conference to a recruit, it appears that they care more about other things, things that UVA can control. Some factors that I think kids would favor that we have direct control over include:
  • Relationships with Coaches: I would argue we have the best in the business in that department.  Mike London and Chip West (among others) are elite-level program salesmen.
  • Quality of Facilities: Yes this is helped by having increased TV revenue, but it also helps to have rich alumni that eagerly stroke checks for fancy buildings with their names on them!
  • Pro Potential: College is pretty much the NFL's minor league, anyway.
  • Sustained Success
I'm going to expound on the last one because it is the most crucial to our success should this come to pass. Consistent winning will get you all of the factors listed above. If you are a known good team, even in a mediocre conference, it opens you up to being on TV a lot. Look at Boise State. Their conference is terrible, and yet they get games like the Chik-Fil-A kickoff every year. People want to see good teams, especially in David vs. Goliath type games. And those games will turn into paydays, and get eyes on the team. The more publicity you get, the more scouts will see you, and the more kids you can put in the pros. How many times have you seen Tennessee or Kentucky on TV for football? I bet it is less than Boise State and TCU.

I'm not trying to say that the ACC won't be damaged if Tech, NC State, FSU, and Clemson jump, but it will certainly not crush UVA's recruiting momentum either, as long as football continues to put it together on the field.

Rotation Breakdown: Regionals

The Hoos will host the Charlottesville Regional as the top seed once again this season, however this season is unlike previous ones, in that the pitching is going to need to hit on all cylinders, which will include the rotation. I'm going to take a look at all the possible scenarios and break down who would throw in which game and what strategy I would use to assign them. Not claiming I am as good or smarter than the coaches, this is just how I would approach it.

Game 1: Friday 4pm vs. Army
We are very fortunate to be a top seed, and it is for just this reason. Playing a number 4 seed that we should be able to handle allows us to save our ace for a later date. Winning game one is extremely important, but winning game two is really the key to this format. If we were the 2 seed you would most likely see Brandon Kline in this spot, but because we are the top seed you will most likely see:

Artie Lewicki
Would you believe me if I told you that Artie Lewicki holds the lowest ERA of the starters for the season? What about the lowest batting average against and walks allowed? Well believe it. Artie, as Kendall said in his previous post, is the key to this series. If he comes out and pitches the way he has all season the Hoos should take game one easily.

Game 2: Saturday vs. Oklahoma/App State
Game Two is the most important game played in a double elimination tournament. The team that wins both games has a huge advantage over the team challenging in the playback game. This is the game where you see the ACE, and Coach O'Connor should not disappoint.

Branden Kline
This is pretty obvious. Kline is a big-time power arm who is also capable, if he is on, of going extremely deep into a game. That is going to be key considering how our staff seems to run out of steam early in games. If Kline can come out and give us 7 strong, dominant innings, we should be okay.

Game 3: Sunday
This is where it gets tricky. While Scott Silverstein has been our Saturday starter, and this would be the obvious spot for him to start, do we really have the confidence in him in this spot? Silverstein has a propensity to get wild here and put up an incerdibly short outing. I think Silverstein will be used in a back-against-the-wall situation because of his unpredictability, which begs the question, what other options do we have?

If we are 1-1: Scott Silverstein
If we are 2-0: Kyle Crockett

Kyle should get the start if we are looking to advance. He has demonstrated the ability to give us consistent innings this season. A combination of 4-5 innings of Kyle, 2-3 innings of a hopefully healthy Shanne Halley, and a nice slam job from Justin Thompson at the end of the game should secure us the win. Meanwhile as stated above if we are in an elimination game we should start Scott Silverstein. He has the potential to turn in a dominant performance, but make no mistake the hook will be quick. That will be a true kitchen sink game.

Game 4: Monday
Hopefully this game won't be necessary, but if it is this could be a problem. The strength of last year's team, the depth of the rotation, is the weakness of this season's team. This will truly be the kitchen sink game. This game will feature names that might not be entirely familiar to all the fans. Expect names like Barrett O'Neill, Joel Effertz, Austin Young, Nick Howard. This could be a 2 inning apiece performance. The strategy I would use at this point is to try and get a different pitcher every time through the order. That way opposing batters don't have a chance to adjust to one of our pitchers the next time around.
Saving the pen is the key to winning these series, especially if you need to win a playback game. That means starters will have to go deep into games. Having Kline pitch a gem in game two would be a huge boost to our chances. I expect Artie to shut down Army in game one, most likely saving Halley and Thompson. If Kline can get deep into game two that will save us innings for relievers who will play a key role in the rest of the series. Big game in game two means a big win for the series. If we want to win we need to fire on all cylinders, and this rotation should keep the pitchers in line to do just that.


May 29, 2012

Virginia Baseball Update!

Sorry for the lack of posts on this 'til now.  I was off the grid at Smith Mountain Lake (no wi-fi, hell, not even any fi.)

In case you missed it, in the ACC postseason, we beat Clemson and then got shellacked by Georgia Tech in the round-robin.  GT then beat Clemson on Saturday morning, putting the Yellow Jackets at 3-0 and rendering our game against Florida State meaningless for purposes of trying to win the conference championship.  However, the game itself wasn't meaningless for the Hoos -- in fact, it was very far from meaningless.  A win probably secured the right to host a regional in the NCAA tournament, whereas a loss would have put us on the bubble for hosting.  So it was a big game for UVA.

The result?

Hoos 7, FSU 0.
(Box score)

Clutch cargo.

Artie Lewicki went 7 strong innings against FSU,
and is a key to our postseason hopes.

So we are hosting a regional, and have a great shot at a measure of revenge against Oklahoma, who knocked us out of the postseason in the 2010 Charlottesville Super Regional.

This weekend's schedule...

2012 NCAA Charlottesville Regional Schedule (all times Eastern)

Friday, June 1
Game 1 - No. 1 Virginia vs. No. 4 Army, 4 p.m.
Game 2 - No. 2 Oklahoma vs. No. 3 Appalachian State, 8 p.m.

Saturday, June 2
Game 3 - Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2, 1 p.m.
Game 4 - Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2, 6 p.m.

Sunday, June 3
Game 5 - Winner Game 3 vs. Loser Game 4, 1 p.m.
Game 6 - Winner Game 5 vs. Winner Game 4, 6 p.m.

Monday, June 4
Game 7 - Winner Game 6 vs. Loser Game 6 (if necessary), 6 p.m.

Jared King needs to deliver big this weekend.

And HERE is the NCAA tournament bracket. The winner of the Charlottesville Regional will advance to play the winner of the Columbia Regional. If South Carolina (National Seed #8) wins that regional, they would host us in the Super Regional. If they lose their regional to Clemson, Coastal Carolina, or Manhattan, then we would host the Super Regional.

But I'm getting ahead of myself just a bit. Up first is Army on Friday.

I think Mike will have a post for us soon, dissecting what he believes should be our pitching rotation for the regional. So stay tuned for that, and look forward to his excellent analysis.

One thing I will say at this point is this: 2012 is a rebuilding year for Virginia Baseball. To be sitting here at 38-17-1 is a true testament to our coaching staff and to the level of grit they have instilled in this program. This is a rebuilding year, and this is a flawed team. It lacks the quality pitching that you've come accustomed to seeing from UVA teams in the past. Therefore, you have to look at this postseason as a "playing with house money" type of situation.


May 26, 2012

GT 17, UVA 5 (mercy rule)

Brutal, embarrassing loss at the hands of the Yellow Jackets yesterday.  By my calculations, our chances of winning the ACC Championship are now nil, unless Clemson beats Georgia Tech at 11:00 AM today.

Box Score

GREENSBORO, N.C. - The No. 17 Virginia baseball team lost 17-5 to No. 8 seed Georgia Tech Friday afternoon at the ACC Baseball Championship at NewBridge Bank Park in Greensboro, N.C. The game was halted in the seventh inning because of the tournament's 10-run mercy rule. The No. 4 seed in the tournament, Virginia (37-17-1) is now 1-1 in pool play.

UVa concludes pool play at 3 p.m. Saturday when it takes on top-seeded Florida State.

Colin Harrington (R-So., Johnstown, Pa.) tied a career high with three hits for the Cavaliers, while Derek Fisher (Fr., Rexmont, Pa.) and Branden Cogswell (Fr., Ballston Lake, N.Y.) each added a pair of hits. Zane Evans went 3-for-4 with six RBI to highlight a big offensive day for Georgia Tech (34-24).

UVa starting pitcher Scott Silverstein (R-Jr., Olney, Md.) took the loss for UVa and fell to 2-5 after allowing four earned runs, four hits and a walk in 2.1 innings. Cole Pitts (6-4) notched the win for Georgia Tech after allowing four runs (two earned) in five innings.

The Yellow Jackets' 17-run performance easily marked the most runs allowed by Virginia this year. The Cavaliers surrendered 12 runs in a March 17 loss at Florida State. UVa had not allowed more than six runs in any of its previous 25 games.

Virginia bolted to an early 3-0 edge, with a pair of runs in the second and one in the third. In the second, Jared King (R-Jr., Radford, Va.) reached on a leadoff error. Harrington and Brandon Downes (Fr., South Plainfield, N.J.) hit back-to-back singles to bring in a run. After a sacrifice bunt by Nate Irving (Fr., Yonkers, N.Y.), Keith Werman (Sr., Vienna, Va.) laid down a squeeze bunt to bring Harrington home.

UVa added a run in the third. Fisher hit a leadoff single and stole second base. He scored on a one-out single to right by Harrington.

Georgia Tech sent 10 batters to the plate in a six-run third inning. Silverstein hit Connor Lynch with a pitch to start the inning, and Kyle Wren followed with a single. After a sacrifice bunt, Brandon Thomas singled to center to plate a pair of runs. Jake Davies doubled to knock Silverstein out, and Evans doubled against Nick Howard (Fr., Olney, Md.) to give the Yellow Jackets the lead. One out later Mott Hyde lined a home run to left field to push the Georgia Tech lead to 6-3.

The Yellow Jackets padded their lead in the fourth inning, scoring four times to move ahead 10-3. After Howard walked the first two batters, Wren and Sam Dove, Thomas lined a double down the right-field line to score a run. Howard intentionally walked Davies, and Austin Young (So., Mechanicsville, Va.) came on in relief. On Young's first pitch, Evans hit a scorcher off the glove of a diving Stephen Bruno (R-So., Audubon, N.J.) at third base, and two runs scored on the single. One out later Hyde hit a sacrifice fly.

Virginia cut a run from the lead in the fifth inning, getting singles from Harrington and Irving before Werman hit a run-scoring grounder to second base. UVa chipped away with another tally in the sixth, as Cogswell led off with a single, stole second and scored on a Fisher single.

Georgia Tech got those runs back in its half of the sixth when Evans went the opposite way for a two-run home to right field.

In the seventh inning Thomas Smith drew a leadoff walk and scored when Lynch doubled to left-center field. One out later Dove tripled to right-center to plate Lynch. After Thomas was hit by a pitch, Davies launched a three-run homer over the right-center field wall to trigger the mercy rule.

May 24, 2012


Believe what you want.

But first, please understand a few undeniable truths about REALIGNMAGEDDON.

Truth #1 -- Despite everyone's gut feeling of wanting to take the macro-look at conference realignment, the decisions are being made and the machinations are occurring on the micro-level.  It all boils down to individual schools following the piles of money and individual conferences looking for schools that will increase the size of the pie such that the individual slices get bigger.  That's all.  Where is the best money / who will bring in more money, that's always the question.  And really, at its basest level, conference realignment is about eyeballs watching televisions broadcasting college football games.  Which teams playing which games deliver the most eyeballs on the most TV sets?  That's the question at the throbbing, pulsating root of realignmageddon.  Sure, it'd be nice and tidy to see four 16-team conferences arise from all of this, with their champions playing in the four team college football playoff.  Ain't gonna happen.

For example, with Texas and Oklahoma (among others) off the table, there aren't enough teams west of the Mississippi that can make the Pac-12's pie grow.  Therefore, barring a catastrophic collapse of the suddenly-once-again-superpowerful Big XII, I think the Pac-12 is done with expansion.  Unless BYU suddenly finds a way to meet the Pac-12's criteria (and isn't cockblocked by Utah), or unless the Pac-12 gets the sweet eye for Boise's one-dimensional football relevance, I think the Pac-12 is done expanding.  Adding a team like Fresno State does nothing to increase the size of the pie, it only adds another slice being removed.  See what I mean?

Accept this truth and come to grips with the fact that there simply is not some all-powerful Godhand moving these chess pieces around on the board.  It's all about money generated by college football on television, and schools clumping together into conferences in an attempt to secure as much of that sweet, sweet TV money as they possibly can.

There is no such thing as a conference realignment Godhand.
This is all happening on the school / conference level, not above.  There is no "above."

Truth #2 -- SEC > B1G / B12 / Pac-12 > ACC / Notre Dame > Big East > C-USA / MW / BYU > Sun Belt / MAC > WAC.  Or, if that visual doesn't work for you, try this:

Tier 1
Southeastern Conference (SEC)

Tier 2
Big Ten (B1G)
Big XII (B12)

Tier 3
Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC)
Notre Dame

Tier 4

Tier 5
Big East

Tier 6
Conference USA (C-USA)
Mountain West (MW)
Brigham Young University (BYU)

Tier 7
Sun Belt
Mid-American Conference (MAC)

Tier 8
Western Athletic Conference (WAC)

Conferences on any given tier are free to feed on conferences/teams on lower tiers.  Basically. We'll see how things shake out if/when the B12 officially invites Florida State, but I suspect the pecking order is as I depicted it above.  And the more tiers a conference fishes down into, the more the schools in that lower conference will fall all over themselves to make the leap up.  For example, if the SEC ever invited Southern Miss to leave C-USA, I'm pretty sure there'd be a fan elation atomic bukkake all over the streets of Hattiesburg.

It's a pretty simple concept, so I hope you're able to grasp it.  (The big fish eats little fish thing, not the bukkake.)

Also, as higher-tiered conferences take chunks out of lower-tiered conferences, those bitten lower-tiered conferences could slide down one or more tiers on the list.  Example: If the SEC takes Southern Miss from C-USA, then C-USA might slide to tier 7 and below the Mountain West on tier 6, allowing the MW to more easily poach UTEP from C-USA.

The real confusion sets in when conferences try to raid other conferences on the same tier.  That becomes like a game of paper-rock-scissors to see which conference wins, with the loser dropping down one - or more - tiers on this ladder.

If the B12 gobbles up FSU and Clemson, I think the ACC slides from Tier 3 to Tier 4, for example.  Luckily for us, there's an opening on Tier 4.  The only thing that changes is that at that point, Notre Dame lives a tier above us, and is no longer even a quasi-option for the ACC fish to eat.

Purple fish (aka the WAC) says: "Where the hell is the bukkake?"

Truth #3 -- Only football matters.

Well, that's only really half true.  When it comes to TV money, only football matters.  But to the conferences themselves, other things might matter.  For example, UVA's academic prestige probably matters to the Big Ten.  And as was evidenced by the expansion including Syracuse and Pitt, academics matter to the ACC, as well.  That's the prevalent reason ECU will never, ever, ever be an ACC school.  That's the prevalent reason why West Virginia was never seriously entertained as an option for the ACC, despite its relatively high football prestige.  Et cetera.

I bring this up because I have a theory that when realignmageddon ends, the schools that actually value their academics will end up more or less clumped together, while the football-first schools will similarly end up together, having a big giant LMFAO-DJed pool party in their Scrooge McDuck coin room.

Party at Alabama's place!

Truth #4 -- Everything is in a holding pattern until two things happen: 1) The four-team playoff is fleshed out, and 2) Notre Dame decides what it is going to do... if anything.

Four teams could mean any of many, many things.  It could be four teams chosen by BCS-style computers.  It could be four teams chosen by a selection committee.  It could be four conference champions -- THE conference champions (read: the champions of the SEC, B1G, Big XII, and Pac-12.)  It could be the four highest-rated or committee-chosen conference champions of any of the eleven - soon to be ten once the WAC dies - conferences.  It could be three conference champions and a wildcard.  It could be two conference champions and two wildcards.  Et cetera.  Et cetera.  Et cetera.

I tend to think the SEC's greed will ultimately lead college football into the "three champs, one wildcard" model since they will think they always have more than one team worthy of top four status and playoff berths, but if it's a strict "four champs" model, is it so hard to connect the dots and make the tier 1 and tier 2 conferences the only ones that matter?  In this scenario, the ACC dies.  Not literally, but in terms of its elite-level football viability, it dies.  In such a scenario, you can bet that more than Florida State will be looking to jump ship.  Say goodbye to Virginia Tech, Clemson, Miami, and whoever else refuses to be frozen out of the possibility of winning a national championship.

Interestingly, if being a conference champion is any sort of prerequisite for the playoff, then that delivers a hard kick in the pants for Notre Dame.  It would be time to shit or get off the pot for the Irish, as they'd have to join a conference in order to win a national championship via qualifying for the playoffs and then winning the tournament.

So those are the two dominoes for the ACC --- the playoff is fleshed out, and then depending upon those details, Notre Dame decides if it's going to join a conference or remain independent.  The so-called "big four" conferences could very easily drive Notre Dame into the ACC and establish a fifth elite-level conference.

In other words, if it's a "four champs" playoff model, the ACC has a reasonable chance to lure in Notre Dame and ascend from Tier 3 to Tier 2.

If there are wildcard berths into the playoffs, then Notre Dame has no real pressure (other than its next deal with NBC, which might track lower than a slice of a conference's revenue) to join a conference.

So if you're an ACC enthusiast, roll big by hoping for the "four champs" model or play it safe by hoping for a "wildcard" model, for which ACC teams will be eligible.  "Four champs" with Notre Dame joining the Big XII is the worst case scenario.

Truth #5 -- Irony abounds for the ACC, and especially for Florida State.

I'm not going to spend a lot of time on this, other than to say the following:

The ACC is the 5th-best football conference right now in no small part because the football schools it brought aboard through earlier expansion - Florida State, then Miami and Virginia Tech - have sucked and embarrassed the conference on the national level.  Take a look-see at the ACC's games in the BCS.

1999 -- Tennessee 23, Florida State 16
2000 -- Florida State 46, [Big East champ] Virginia Tech 29
2001 -- Oklahoma 13, Florida State 2 (c'mon, two points? TWO POINTS???)
2002 -- Florida 56, Maryland 23 (nice)
2003 -- Georgia 26, Florida State 13
2004 -- [Big East champ] Miami 16, Florida State 14
2005 -- Auburn 16, Virginia Tech 13
2006 -- Penn State 26, Florida State 23
2007 -- Louisville 24, Wake Forest 13 (but it was a strong effort, Wake)
2008 -- Kansas 24, Virginia Tech 21 (this one is my personal favorite)
2009 -- Virginia Tech 20, Cincinnati 7
2010 -- Iowa 24, Georgia Tech 14
2011 -- Stanford 40, Virginia Tech 12
2012 -- West Virginia 70, Clemson 33 (I also like this one)
2012 -- Michigan 23, Virginia Tech 20

That's a sterling 2-13 record in the BCS.  That's a .133 percentage.  Well below the Mendoza Line.  Nice job, gang.

FSU and Clemson want to complain about our deal with ESPN being worth less than the deals inked by the SEC, B1G, B12, and Pac-12?  That BCS history documented above is the reason why.  They sucked in the BCS, and they let glass ceilinged and world-renowned choke-artists Virginia Tech represent the conference too often.  Hell, they let Maryland and Wage Fucking Forest win the conference this decade.  Miami hasn't even played in the conference championship game as a member of the ACC.

Florida State, I understand that you probably want to jump ship.  But please know that you are a big reason why the ship is sinking in the first place.  The noble thing to do is get your head out of your ass and get this conference back on track.  You have a chance to do the right thing.  I'm not holding my breath, but we'll see what happens.

Truth #6 -- No matter what happens, the ACC is going to survive.  As a football conference.  A decent football conference.  Fuck Florida State.

The alarmists are seeing FSU, Clemson, and Miami bolting to the Big XII.  Maybe Georgia Tech, too.  They also see Maryland to the B1G, Virginia Tech and NC State to the SEC, and Virginia left to hope/pray/grovel/beg/fluff for a lifeline sent from the freaking Big Ten.

I personally hate the idea of going to the B1G.  Not because I dislike the B1G, but because I just have a hard time wrapping my mind around the notion of UVA trying to forge a rivalry with Minnesota.  Or Iowa.  Or Illinois.  You get the point.

The medicine increases the disease.

But here's the thing I keep coming back to: The ACC is going to survive.  Maybe it's a bastardized version of Tobacco Road fused with the choisest nugs left from the Big East.  Maybe it's a smaller basketball-centric conference that plays a perfect round-robin schedule and doesn't stage a football championship game.  Maybe it's a lot of things, but it will still exist. And for the life of me, I can't envision the University of Virginia in any other conference.

In its 59-year history, only one school has ever left the ACC: South Carolina.
That doesn't really mean anything... but it does feel like it means something.

So with these truths in mind, let's plow boldly into this latest shockwave of realignmageddon.  Let's stare the ACCpocalypse in the face and dare to survive it.

HOOS 3, Clemson 2

Box Score

GREENSBORO, N.C. - The No. 17 Virginia baseball team scored a pair of runs in the eighth inning to rally and defeat fifth-seeded Clemson Thursday afternoon in the Cavaliers' opener at the ACC Baseball Championship at NewBridge Bank Park in Greensboro, N.C. Virginia (37-16-1) captured its eighth-consecutive win against Clemson (32-25).

The No. 4 seed in the tournament, Virginia next will play No. 8 seed Georgia Tech at 11 a.m. Friday in the pool-play format. The Cavaliers conclude pool play at 3 p.m. Saturday when they take on top-seeded Florida State. Clemson plays the Seminoles at 3 p.m. Friday.

Runs were tough to come by, despite both teams having plenty of opportunities. Clemson put runners on base in every inning and left 11 runners on the basepaths, while Virginia stranded a dozen baserunners.

Kyle Crockett (So., Poquoson, Va.) tossed 1.1 innings in earning the win and improving to 5-2. Justin Thompson (Sr., Danville, Va.) got a game-ending double-play ball to notch his 12th save. Mike Kent (1-2) gave up both runs in the eighth inning for Clemson and took the loss.

Both starting pitchers were excellent while receiving no decisions. UVa's Branden Kline (Jr., Frederick, Md.) worked seven innings, giving up one earned runs, four hits and five walks while striking out five. Clemson's Daniel Gossett pitched 6.2 innings, allowing an earned runs, four hits and six hits while fanning six.

Virginia struck for the game's first run in the third inning. With one out Branden Cogswell (Fr., Ballston Lake, N.Y.) was hit by a pitch. He advanced on a wild pitch as Stephen Bruno (R-So., Audubon, N.J.) struck out. After Derek Fisher (Fr., Rexmont, Pa.) walked, Jared King (R-Jr., Radford, Va.) singled to left field on an 0-2 pitch to plate Cogswell and give UVa a 1-0 edge.

Clemson tied the game in the sixth inning when Jon McGibbon crushed a solo home run to right field with one out.

The Tigers took advantage of Virginia miscues to take the lead in the eighth. On a swinging third strike to start the inning, Brad Felder reached base on a passed ball by Nate Irving (Fr., Yonkers, N.Y.). With one out Felder stole second base, and he scored when McGibbon's grounder to shortstop went through the legs of Chris Taylor (Jr., Virginia Beach, Va.), giving Clemson a 2-1 lead.

Virginia countered with a two-out rally to take the lead in its half of the ninth. Brandon Downes (Fr., South Plainfield, N.J.) singled to left against Kent and was replaced by pinch runner Mitchell Shifflett (So., Midlothian, Va.). Irving was hit by a pitch, and pinch hitter Kenny Towns (Fr., Burke, Va.) walked to load the bases. Taylor then was hit by a pitch to force in Shifflett. Reliever Scott Firth entered the game and walked Cogswell on five pitches to bring in Irving with the go-ahead run.

May 21, 2012

REALIGNMAGEDDON: What's about to happen to the ACC???

Did this guy just pull the pin on the grenade?

Jamie Oakes of Wahoos 247 is the best, most-plugged in source for UVA recruiting, and he is a guy I have really come to respect through his years in objectively covering the Hoos we love so dearly.

When recently pressed for his opinion on the most recent round of REALIGNMAGEDDON rumblings, this is what Jamie had to say:

"Here is the Cliffs Notes version: If Notre Dame doesn't bail out the ACC, the Big XII will raid. If the Big XII raids, they don't want UVa. UVa is not interested in the SEC. With the ACC no longer viable, it's B1G or bust."

A Notre Dame fan growing up, Jamie added this:

"Notre Dame is going to do what's best for Notre Dame. All options are on the table right now. They could go to the B12, ACC, or B1G. It's the piece that needs to go into motion to truly set up the finish to this puzzle."

Know this, my friends and fellow Wahoo fans: This shit is about to get real.

Please save us, Touchdown Jesus.

Without an Irish Miracle, the ACC is going to lose FSU, probably Clemson, maybe Virginia Tech and NC State, and maybe Maryland.  What's left will be a blasted-out shell of a football conference: BC, Syracuse, Pitt, UVA, UNC, Duke, Wake, GT, and Miami.

I'm of the opinion that the ACC needs to bend and contort its revenue sharing model and do whatever it takes to keep Florida State and to attract Notre Dame... be it full tier three freedom, uneven revenue sharing (do FSU and Wake really deserve the same conference payday? Really?), or whatever it takes to set this right and save its viability.  It has to find a seat at the table for the college football playoffs, no matter what it takes.  But do I have confidence in John Swofford and the ACC institutions to do a little whoring in the name of good football?  No, I absolutely do not.  It's an old guard kind of conference finding itself at a crossroads in a modern-era money grab.  The ACC won't be bold enough to survive intact.

Is this what the ACC will look like?

Predicting UVA's move in all of this, I think we will go down with the ship in the ACC. Or - if the opportunity is presented and given the fact that we have a president who once presided over a B1G school - Virginia will choose the path that leads them to a stable football conference that offers the best academic partnerships. That's the B1G.  But the B1G is full of huge, land-grant research schools.  Not a perfect fit for UVA.

To some extent, I think our wagon is hitched to UNC's.  It's our oldest rival, and the school with which we share the most in common.  The problem with that is that Carolina is ACC to the core, and will absolutely go down with the sinking ship.  I just hope UVA is willing to jump ship at the right time, especially if the B1G lifeboat cruises past at the last moment.

Mostly, I just hope we don't end up in a bombed-out football wasteland like the current Big East dumpster slut.  But even if we do, it's not like UVA will just give up and fold its football program. There are many paths to football relevance, and ours might be through the process of earning 8, 9, 10+ wins every season in a watered-down football conference, similar to the path TCU just walked from the Mountain West into the Big XII.

Was our trail blazed by the Frogs?

I don't pretend to know what will happen, but I can promise you that I am reading and digesting everything that's out there, every single morsel.  I can and will be your guide through this REALIGNMAGEDDON madness, always confident that UVA will come out in decent shape and at least in a position to earn its own success on the field of play.

Virginia in the ACC Baseball Championship


GREENSBORO, N.C. ( – Pairings and game times have been set for the 2012 Atlantic Coast Conference Baseball Championship, which will be held from Wednesday, May 23 through Sunday, May 27, at NewBridge Bank Park.

As the No. 1 overall seed, Atlantic Division champion Florida State (43-12, 24-6) will be placed atop Pool A and will be joined by No. 4 Virginia (36-16-1, 18-12), No. 5 Clemson (32-24, 16-14) and No. 8 Georgia Tech (33-24, 12-18). Coastal Division champion North Carolina (42-13, 22-8) is the No. 2 seed and will be joined in Pool B by No. 3 NC State (38-15, 19-11), No. 6 Miami (34-19, 16-14) and No. 7 Wake Forest (32-22, 13-17).

All eight teams in this year’s ACC Championship field are ranked among the top 40 of the most recent NCAA RPI report. Florida State held a No. 1 national ranking in two major national polls last week, while North Carolina was ranked as high as No. 7, NC State as high as No. 13, Virginia as high as No. 19 and Miami as high as No. 21.

Under the pool-play format, each team will play one game against each of the other three opponents in its division Wednesday-Saturday (May 23-26). The two teams with the best records within their respective division brackets will advance to the title game on Sunday, May 27, with the winner earning the ACC’s automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament.

Virginia's schedule in Greensboro:
Thursday, 11:00 AM vs. Clemson
Friday, 11:00 AM vs. Georgia Tech
Saturday, 3:00 PM vs. Florida State
Sunday, 12:00 noon -- Championship Game

Saturday's game against FSU will likely determine the winner of Pool A.  Up first, we need to take care of business against Clemson and Georgia Tech, teams we went 5-1 against in the regular season.  We also need to hope that one of those teams (or both!) can pop an upset against the Seminoles, which would conceivably give us some wiggle room should we lose to Florida State on Saturday.  But make no mistake -- FSU is the best team in the ACC this season, and is one of the best teams in the country.  The path to the championship goes through them.

If we can win two [or more] games in Greensboro, I think we're in line to host a regional in the NCAA Tournament.


May 18, 2012

"New Bowl a Death Knell for ACC?"

Uh oh.

Shit just got real.

Take a look by finger-slapping HERE.

Unholy union.

If FSU leaves the ACC...

Get fired up for that game against Iowa State, Semenholes.

There continues to be a lot of smoke out there about Florida State leaving the ACC for the greener pastures (read: bigger piles of cash via TV revenue) of the Big XII, despite the absolutely idiotic concept of conference rivalry games against the likes of Baylor, Kansas, K-State, and (this one's my favorite) Iowa State.  *snicker*  Then again, I guess that's no worse than an annual game against Boston College or Syracuse, to be fair.

Anyway, I've been thinking about this a lot lately.

The truth can be painful.  The ACC is the 5th-best football conference right now, behind the SEC, B1G, Big XII, and Pac-12. 5th best, and not especially close to 4th, unless we pull the coup of all coups and somehow lure Notre Dame into the fold for [significantly?] less money than the Big XII or B1G will be able to offer.  How much does Notre Dame value academic partnership, university like-mindedness, and opportunity to stick it to the ego-driven "power conferences" by joining the least powerful of said power conferences?  The Irish probably value those things a lot.  A lot, but not enough.  They'll take the money that one of the other conferences can offer.

So we're stuck at 5th-best football conference status, with no real threat for position from the 6th-best football conference, the dumpster slut that is the Big East.

We're 5th-best, wouldn't we still be 5th-best if F$U left and we replaced them with a football-playing basketball school, like, say... UConn?

FINALLY, dude.  Shit.
When this realignment madness first started a couple of years ago, the Big East tried to save itself by focusing on basketball. I thought it was a novel idea at the time, though it didn't really work out because the conference was already too bastardized and was hemorrhaging schools. It was too unstable. But maybe that basketball-first model could work in the ACC, given our richer tradition, our dedicated core membership, and our high level of general long-term stability.

Is the ACC minus F$U and maybe Clemson, plus UConn and maybe Louisville, still a decent football conference with some damn fine hoops?

Wouldn't a basketball-first conference be better in some ways for our football program? We are more dedicated to gridiron success than most of that new-look ACC, except for VT, NC State, GT, and Miami. Winning the ACC becomes a much more realistic annual goal. It's certainly a path of less resistance, similar to what Boise State and TCU just parlayed into national relevance.

Am I wrong to not be feeling all that much consternation about all of this? If Florida State jumps ship, I don't see it as the end of the world. And I'm not convinced - not at all - that the SEC really wants Virginia Tech, nor would I care all that much if the turkeys left for that regular Alabama/LSU/Florida curb-stomping, despite the increased traction they'd gain in recruiting kids to play SEC football.

I guess what I'm saying is this: I can envision a reality in which our basketball program is helped by playing in an improved basketball conference while our football program is helped by becoming one of the bigger fish in a smaller pond.

UVA football in a basketball-driven ACC?

Yes, the TV money would be less in a conference without F$U. But UVA isn't in a spot where we have to really worry about revenue streams for the athletic department. Instead, that will serve to diminish a few of our conference brethren, making our path to success that much easier.

If our football team starts winning 10 games every season, it won't matter if we're beating UConn on the way to those wins.

Just win, baby.  Winning is all that really matters.

May 15, 2012

It's on

The ACC-Big Ten Challenge has given us a real measuring stick game for the program on November 28th when the Hoos visit the Kohl Center and the Grateful Red, home of the Wisconsin Badgers.

Wisconsin Basketball: The Great White North
If ever there was a team to compare us to this is it. Bo Ryan and Tony Bennett run almost identical systems, but the system has much longer, deeper, and more developed roots at Wisconsin. This game is going to measure where we are as a program relative to what could be considered the gold standard of slow it down basketball. If the over/under of this game is above 85, bet the farm on the under. If we can manage to beat Wisco on their floor playing their style of ball it shows a couple of things. First and foremost it will show that Tony Bennett can coach with the best of them. Each team will know exactly what to do against the other because they pretty much practice against this all season. The success or failure will come down to coaching adjustments. It will also however show how big a factor having superior athletes will be in the success or failure of this system. As good as Wisco has been they still don't have access to the kind of athletes in the B1G that UVA has in the ACC, especially with bigger programs scooping up kids out of Chicago and Milwaukee. While UVA does not necessarily have better players in the system, it's safe to say we are close to, if not more athletic than the Badgers.

All in all this is a good measuring stick game. We will have an experienced point guard, 3 shooters, and some bounce in the paint. Wisco can probably out muscle us down low, but if we can knock down perimeter shots and take advantage of fast break chances we should be able to force them to play our kind of game, which could eventually evolve into a weird up-tempo slow down system which takes advantage of mistakes on the fast break and also kills you in the half court. We'll be up against the model, let's see how it goes.

We're coming for you Bo Ryan.

May 14, 2012

Third Tier Rights Explained

You're going to need to read and understand this as we move forward with the REALIGNMAGEDDON blogging, especially as it pertains to F$U and their potential departure from the ACC.  Call it required reading.  I'd give you the Cliffs Notes, but this piece is short enough and too important to your base understanding.  So nut up and mouse-smack this link:

The potential coverage of the Nole Network.  This is a lot of TV sets,
boys and girls, with ZERO competition from GatorTV or The U-Tube.

May 11, 2012

REALIGNMAGEDDON Rumor -- 5/11/12

Hearing that Louisville just informed the Big East that they are leaving the conference.

Rumored destination: either the Big XII or the ACC.

Also hearing that the Big XII has specifically targeted four schools for further expansion up to 14 teams: Louisville, Cincinnati, Florida State, and Notre Dame.  No mention of Clemson.

Hang on to your asses.  Something tells me this is going to be a very interesting couple of weeks...


Nebraska to the B1G.  Colorado/Utah to the Pac-1012.  TCU to the Big EastXII.  West Virginia to the Big XII.  Mizzou / Texas A&M to the SEC.  Pitt/Syracuse to the ACC.  Pu pu platter (including Boise State for football only!) to the Big East.  Mountain West / C-USA merger loose coalition.

You thought the quakes were slowing down?  You thought the REALIGNMAGEDDON was over?  Not so fast.  The plates are still moving, the earth is still rumbling, and this brave new world is still taking shape... and this time, it could involve Virginia in a more meaningful way than just adding two new conference mates to our schedule.

Let's take a look...

(Note: I'm going to be mentioning "tier 3" a lot in this piece.  Just so you understand what it is, tier 3 is a school's right to build its own network around any content not picked up by the primary media partnership.  A perfect example is Texas' Longhorn Network.  Some conferences allow schools to maintain complete control over their own tier 3 revenue (the Big XII), while other conferences enforce revenue sharing across the board (the SEC).  The ACC is currently half-assing it, sharing tier 3 for football but allowing tier 3 freedom for basketball.  That hurts Florida State and helps Tobacco Road, and it's the point of contention that could ultimately destroy the conference if it's not properly addressed at the ACC meetings next week.)

First, if you haven't seen Stewart Mandel's excellent Realignment Cheat Sheet, please click on that now and take a read.  Go ahead, I'll wait...

Got it?


My plan for this post was to break down all of the moves for each conference and give you my thoughts.  That was before some new shit - BIG shit - came to light this week.  But that new shit (as hinted to above in the tier 3 blurb) can wait until the end of this post, as I stick to the original plan for now.

Conference-by-conference, here is where we stand after the 2.5 years since the Big Ten's press release announcing its intent to expand:

Added: Pitt, Syracuse
Lost: Nobody (yet)
Notes: It's all good for the ACC, as the conference landed a cherry deal with ESPN after adding Pitt and the Cuse.  These two additions don't move the needle much for football, but they improve basketball greatly, and make the conference much more attractive from a media standpoint.  The ACC still has some potential internal problems, stemming from tier 3 rights and a slightly lower per-team payoff than the four big-time football conferences (SEC, B1G, Big XII, Pac-12) can offer, but the opportunity for great long-term stability is right there within arm's reach.  Best of all, at 14 schools, there are still two spots open for a potential run at Notre Dame and Penn State, with ESPN open to constant renegotiation upon any instance of conference improvement.  The ACC has forged a true partnership with ESPN, maybe the most powerful television entity in the world of sports.  The conference is in a great spot, currently the 5th-best football conference with a golden (pun intended) opportunity to climb higher.
Further Expansion Options: Notre Dame?, Penn State?, Rutgers, UConn, Louisville

Added: Texas A&M, Missouri
Lost: Nobody, nor will they ever lose anybody
Notes: I think this 14-team SEC is now pretty much set in stone, with the Florida/Georgia/South Carolina/Kentucky voting coalition able to block possible inclusion of any schools from Florida (FSU), Georgia (GT), South Carolina (Clemson), or Kentucky (Louisville).  If the conference decides to go to 16 at any point, I think the only possibilities would be Virginia Tech, NC State, and/or Maryland.  Further SEC expansion is really, really unlikely, but I suppose it is possible (more on that later.)  Would any schools bring in more additional revenue than they'd be taking a share of?  Would adding VT and NCSU lead to the conference's media partners adding an additional $40+ million annually to the kitty?  I really don't think so.  For now, make absolutely no mistake -- the SEC is the most powerful conference, and it's by far the most lucrative on its own merits.  But with not much juice behind basketball, and the non-revs [other than baseball] nearly non-existent, it's a one-dimensional product.  The SEC is today's vogue conference, but I think it has positioned itself in such a way as to limit any further growth.  It won't be tomorrow's vogue conference.
Further Expansion Options: Virginia Tech, NC State, Maryland, Louisville

Added: Nebraska
Lost: Nobody
Notes: The B1G failed to kill the Big XII when it had the chance, and as a result has effectively penned itself into its new 12-team lineup.  The Big Ten Network (BTN) gives all 12 schools a revenue bump to a national-best $22 million per school, but that is now a static number -- which is why I continue to think that Penn State moving to the ACC is not impossible.  Notre Dame has no reason or desire to join the Big Ten, despite the geographic fit, and options like Rutgers, Cincinnati, Louisville, UConn, and Maryland are so totally underwhelming that I highly doubt the conference will budge from where it is right now.  The days of being able to poach from the Big XII are almost over, as that conference stabilizes under a great new media deal and total tier 3 freedom for its member schools.  Unless the B1G has a chance to scavenge the wreckage of a destroyed ACC, I think this conference is stuck where it is.  [B1G Commissioner] Jim Delaney is the original architect of REALIGNMAGEDDON, however.  I won't sleep on his ability to set off another series of tremors, should he choose to do so.
Further Expansion Options: Rutgers, UConn, Louisville, Maryland, Virginia

Added: Colorado, Utah
Lost: Nobody
Credit the Pac-10 for swinging for the fences and almost pulling off the biggest coup of REALIGNMAGEDDON when it almost brought aboard Texas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and Texas Tech.  Discredit the Pac-10 for swinging, missing, and grounding out to the shortstop with the inclusion of Colorado and Utah.  Those weren't bad moves, per se... but it's kind of like asking Santa for the G.I. Joe U.S.S. Flagg Aircraft Carrier, and then waking up to find the Cobra Water Moccasin under the tree.  Colorado and Utah took the conference to 12 schools, opening up the ability to play a conference championship game.  Congrats on catching up with what was going on in 2003, guys.  The [relatively sudden] success of Stanford and Oregon, along with USC's perennial greatness, keeps the conference buoyed, but the Pac-12 will stay at 12 barring the decision to expand again with more underwhelming options.  The Big XII won't be poached again, and the low-hanging fruit of lesser conferences would just do more harm (more schools with which to share revenue) than good (bringing additional revenue to the table.)  I think Boise is a somewhat interesting option, but that only helps football and kills everything else... and this is a conference that supposedly values its non-revs and its academic profile.
Further Expansion Options: BYU, Boise State

Added: TCU, West Virginia
Lost: Nebraska, Colorado, Texas A&M, Missouri
Notes: This conference was attacked and almost killed, but was able to stop the bleeding and stabilize with the additions of TCU and WVU and a commitment to togetherness from the eight incumbent members.  In a fight for survival, the conference agreed to revenue sharing, but allowed Texas to keep its Longhorn Network.  From UT's greed was born tier 3 freedom in the Big XII, which might ultimately prove to be the master stroke that saves this league and catapults it to the top of the world of college athletics... as other schools with tier 3 earning potential - namely FSU, Notre Dame, and possibly Clemson - could seek out a safe haven that offers up a bit more autonomy than the more socialist-minded conferences.  Trading Nebraska, Colorado, A&M, and Mizzou for TCU and West Virginia is a massive net loss, but at the same time this conference has to like where it is currently positioned.  The biggest problem that plagues the Big XII is that enormously over-inflated ego that Texas brings to the table.  Can the Longhorns suffer through sharing the spotlight, should the conference attempt to bring in the Noles and/or the Irish?  Would Notre Dame be able to co-exist with Texas?  Those are fundamental questions at the absolute heart of this conference's potential for further growth.  But make absolutely no mistake -- if the Big XII is somehow able to add F$U and ND, it would suddenly rival the SEC in football, and far surpass it in everything else.  It would be... dare I say it?... the new top dog in college sports.  And the associated megabucks media deal would quickly follow.
Further Expansion Options: Florida State, Clemson, Notre Dame, Louisville, Cincinnati, BYU, Boise State

Big East
Added: Boise State (football only), San Diego State (football only), Temple, Memphis, Houston, SMU, UCF, Navy (football only)
Lost: Pitt, Syracuse, TCU (sort of), West Virginia
Notes: This is what a whore looks like.  A Frankenstein whore, to be specific.  A monster-made college football dumpster slut, to be really specific.  The Big East, constantly poached, and with member schools openly begging other conferences for inclusion, had no choice but to go for quantity over quality, and in doing so decided to bastardize the whole concept of "geographic footprint" for a college athletics conference.  Oddly, I kind of respect what they've done.  It's wacky and outside the box, and while it might be destined to fail like the ill-conceived WAC superexpansion of 1996, at least it's an interesting notion.  Since this conference has seen so much change, here are its 13 projected football-playing members: Cincinnati, UConn, Louisville, Rutgers, USF, Temple, Boise, SDSU, Houston, Memphis, SMU, UCF, Navy.  This feels a lot like the original Conference USA, right?  (Since the Big East has become so hoops-driven, here are its basketball-playing members: Temple, Memphis, Houston, SMU, UCF, Marquette, Notre Dame, Georgetown, Cincinnati, USF, Louisville, Seton Hall, UConn, Rutgers, St. John's, Villanova, Providence, DePaul.  That's an 18-team mutant, but it does carry some hardwood heft.)
Further Expansion Options: Any school not currently in the ACC, SEC, B1G, Pac-12, or Big XII.  Seriously.

Mountain West
Added: Fresno State, Hawaii (football only), Nevada, San Jose State, Utah State
Lost: Boise State, BYU, TCU, Utah
Notes: Like Wahooze once ate WahooWatch (sorry Mike), the Mountain West ate the WAC.  Air Force, Colorado State, New Mexico, UNLV, Wyoming, Fresno, Hawaii, Nevada, SJSU, and Utah State forms a quaint, cute little football conference, but this league is no longer pushing for a seat at the grownups table.  One interesting thought that I had and wanted to include somewhere is this: Boise, BYU, TCU, and Utah leaving this conference creates a power vacuum.  Somebody is going to be winning games in the MW, and those wins could pile up to conference championships, bowl games, and eventually into becoming the next nouveau riche western football power.  My guess for that distinction: maybe Nevada, maybe Air Force, but most likely Colorado State.  You heard it here first --- ten years from now, the Rams will be the next Boise State Broncos.  Meanwhile, the new Mountain West logo rocks.
Further Expansion Options: Idaho and/or New Mexico State, both left to wither and die in the abandoned WAC.  Or maybe UTEP.

Conference USA
Added: FIU, Louisiana Tech, North Texas, UT-San Antonio (new to the FBS), Charlotte (new to the FBS), maybe ODU (which would also be new to the FBS, should the Monarchs decide to make the jump)
Lost: Houston, Memphis, SMU, UCF
Notes: This one popped, mushroomed, and went nuclear just this week.  Aggressive moves for an also-ran conference, and I appreciate ALL of it.  I think Florida International is a baby giant, poised to grow maybe bigger than UCF and even USF and become the #4 power in the state of Florida... which I realize sounds like I'm damning the Golden Panthers with faint praise, but I really am bullish about the potential of this football program.  The new additions join holdovers ECU, Marshall, Rice, Southern Miss, Tulsa, Tulane, UAB, and UTEP.  This is honestly not a terrible conference, and like with the Mountain West, I bet it produces a "new" football power.  That might be FIU, or it could be Old Dominion.  If ODU bites the bullet and makes the jump, it could quickly gain traction in a conference like this by strictly recruiting the 757, to include kids like Divante Walker and Wil Wahee, guys that UVA and VT don't pounce on immediately.  (If ODU rises up to the FBS level, we MUST make them an annual rival, with alternating home and away games.  Seven home games with one of our away games in the Hampton Roads area  we are so focused on recruiting?  Yes please.  I'm not afraid of losing to ODU every once in a while.  I think that series would do much more good than harm for UVA, and I can guarantee that VPI will be scared shitless to play the Monarchs.)
Further Expansion Options: Who the hell knows?

Added: UMass (new to the FBS)
Lost: Temple
Notes: UMass replaces Temple, and it's pretty much status quo in the below-mediocre MAC.  Yawn.

Sun Belt
Added: South Alabama, Georgia State, and Texas State (all new to the FBS)
Lost: FIU, North Texas
Notes: I like the Sun Belt.  Gus Malzahn is coaching Arkansas State, FAU is another potential "baby giant" in Florida, Louisiana-Lafayette seems like it'll be good for a while, MTSU continues to climb, Troy is always a tough out, and now these three FBS newcomers... it's an interesting little conference.

Added: Ha ha, yeah right.
Lost: Boise State, Fresno State, Hawaii, Louisiana Tech, Nevada, San Jose State, Texas State, UT-San Antonio, Utah State
Notes: Extending the metaphor of REALIGNMAGEDDON being an earthquake, the WAC is like the Wal-Mart that got sucked into the fissure and was never seen again.  This is now a two-team football conference.  Unless Idaho and New Mexico State want to play each other eight times every season, those two schools are looking at the cold, hard reality of folding down the tents and taking the party back to the FCS level.  The Mountain West is happy at ten teams, and nobody else can come even remotely close to wanting the Vandals or Aggies.  Losing such a high-stakes game of musical chairs has to be painful.  Montana is licking its chops to see Idaho come crawling back to the Big Sky.

But back to tier 3 and the ACC...

Do me a favor and finger-punch THIS LINK.

At this point it's all conjecture and fodder for niche blogs and websites of ill-repute, but F$U-to-the-Big XII does seem to be getting some legs under it.  The ACC has a chance to iron out Florida State's (and Clemson's) tier 3 opportunities at next week's conference meetings.  If our conference fails to properly and appropriately address tier 3, could the lure of additional money over the long term entice the Seminoles to jump ship to the Big XII?  How about Clemson, which is in a similar boat, minus the budget shortfalls?  And if those two cut and run, would VT-to-the-SEC once again appear possible?  Could the Big XII's loosey-goosey tier 3 stance also ultimately attract Notre Dame?

I always thought the SEC would be the conference to ultimately pose the biggest threat to the ACC.  Maybe the B1G.  Never thought it'd be the Big XII, though "electronic footprint" trumps geographic footprint in modern college sports.

Don't put your heads in the sand on this one, guys. FSU and Clemson don't care that much about academics (else they'd have better schools!), and these tier 3 freedoms represent millions annually, and a chance to get a leg up on their in-state SEC counterparts. The extra $3M + $5M from the launch of the Nole Network would quickly counterbalance the $20+M ACC buyout... especially if the Big XII helped pay off that debt.

If the ACC doesn't move (and move quick, like, next week at the meeting) to address this tier 3 inequity, we could see the Noles and Tigers bolt, and Notre Dame snatched off the table not long after. And with those two gone and no hope for ND, how quick would Virginia Tech and maybe NC State wait before flirting with the SEC?

ACC football could be destroyed over tier 3.

Ball's in Swofford's court. How much faith do we have in that guy and in the ACC university presidents to get this right?

Soooooo glad we have Sullivan at that table instead of Casteen.

It's scary, but if the ACC falls apart, Virginia is attractive enough on its own to find a somewhat soft landing spot.  Clumped together with UNC and Duke, we could help form a new, weird, basketball-first conference.  Or maybe the B1G would come calling.  Or maybe we go whore ourselves next to the dumpster in the Big East.

I'll keep you posted, you keep your ruby red lipstick handy and your stiletto heels polished.

May 9, 2012

Money Matters

Oh man, I have a freaking enormous REALIGNMAGEDDON piece brewing for you guys right now, for those few of you who enjoy that kind of thing.

But for the time being, just this: Two huge pieces of news that broke today.

No pay increase, but a $500K bonus for 2014. I think it’s a pretty good deal for UVA.

It also shows that Bennett is committed to staying at UVA. Of course, if/when Bo Ryan retires and Wisconsin comes calling, it could still be a battle to keep Bennett. It's a battle I think we can win.

Extension Increases Value with Sponsorship Rights; More Basketball, Football and Olympic Sport Games

The numbers bandied about are $3.6 billion total and an average of $17 million per school per year.  That's up from $12 million per year per school under the old deal.  Good stuff.

Food for thought: Notre Dame receives an average of $15 million per year from its deal with NBC.  Think ESPN might want to increase its ACC deal by ~15% in order to accommodate Notre Dame and another school (Penn State? Rutgers? UConn?) joining the conference as its 15th and 16th teams?  I think they'd be willing to go way above a 15% increase.

This also likely means there'll be more ACC baseball on TV.  Always a good thing.

The bottom line is that the ACC is cementing itself with a media partner, and it's a solid, stable, long-term partnership.  Bristol is a powerful ally in the world of sports, which goes without saying.

Here's the press release:

ESPN and the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) have announced an extension to their exclusive agreement through 2026-27 which will now feature several new elements designed to bring added value to ESPN and ACC fans, including more title sponsorship rights, more men’s regular-season and conference tournament basketball games, more conference football games, and dozens more Olympic sports competitions. The deal will provide premier content to numerous ESPN multimedia platforms, including ESPN, ESPN on ABC, ESPN2,, ESPNU, ESPN3, ESPN 3D, ESPN Mobile TV, ESPN GamePlan, ESPN FULL COURT, ESPN Buzzer Beater/Goal Line, ESPN International, ESPN Deportes, ESPN Classic and
Increased Inventory
The conference’s planned increase to an 18-game conference men’s basketball schedule and the additions of Pittsburgh and Syracuse will bring an increase of 30 conference men’s basketball games per year and two more conference tournament games. In football, 14 more conference-controlled games will be televised each year. Per the extension, ESPN has the right to televise three Friday ACC football contests annually which will include a standing commitment from Boston College and Syracuse to each host one game as well as an afternoon or evening game on Thanksgiving Friday. Also, more women’s basketball and dozens more Olympic sports competitions will be covered on ESPN platforms representing the conference’s 25, soon to be 26, sponsored sports.
Sponsorship and Enhancements
For the first time, ESPN has acquired title sponsorship rights, subject to conference approval, beyond football to all other conference championships including the men’s and women’s basketball tournaments. The ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament, televised in its entirety on ESPN networks and its syndication partner Raycom, has never been sponsored in its 59-year history.
John Skipper, president, ESPN and co-chair, Disney Media Networks, said, “This expansion and extension of our exclusive agreement brings tremendous value to our company and to ACC fans everywhere. We look forward to showcasing this premier conference across all platforms through 2027.”
“We are excited to have further enhanced our partnership with ESPN through the extension of our multimedia contract,” said ACC Commissioner John Swofford. “We are proud that ESPN has invested so deeply in the ACC both from a resource and exposure standpoint. As we look to the future, this relationship will be tremendous for our schools, fans, coaches and student-athletes.”
ESPN has been televising ACC content since 1979 and has exclusive rights to every conference-controlled football and men’s basketball game, plus women’s basketball and Olympic sports matchups, and all ACC championship events. ACC content is distributed on the widest array of multi-media platforms in the sports industry. ACC on ESPN highlights:
· Football on national TV: Extensive regular-season action on Saturday afternoon and nights, primetime Thursdays, three Fridays including Thanksgiving Friday, Labor Day Monday and the ACC Football Championship Game;
· Men’s basketball on national TV: The most comprehensive coverage of regular-season games and the entire conference tournament produced and distributed via ESPN; regular-season matchups of the storied Duke-North Carolina rivalry each year; full national telecasts on all games televised on an ESPN platform; a weekly ACC Sunday Night Basketball franchise on ESPNU;
· Women’s basketball: Numerous women’s regular-season basketball games and the entire conference tournament;
· Olympic sports: An extensive commitment to the league’s soon to be 23-sponsored Olympic sports with regular-season and championship telecasts, highlighted by baseball, softball, lacrosse, and men’s and women’s soccer;
· Digital media: Exclusive ACC football, men’s and women’s basketball, and Olympic sports games as well as simulcasts on ESPN3. Live ACC games, including football and basketball, on ESPN Mobile TV;
· ESPN 3D: Select live ACC action on ESPN 3D;
· Additional outlets: Select ACC action on ESPN International, ESPN GamePlan, ESPN FULL COURT, ESPN Classic and ESPN Deportes; and extensive content rights for
About the Atlantic Coast Conference
The Atlantic Coast Conference is now in its 59th year of competition, the ACC has long enjoyed the reputation as one of the strongest and most competitive intercollegiate conferences in the nation. Since the league’s inception in 1953, ACC schools have captured 124 national championships, including 66 in women’s competition and 58 in men’s. In addition, NCAA individual titles have gone to ACC student-athletes 142 times in men’s competition and 101 times in women’s action. For more information, visit