The Atlantic Coast Conference is a basketball league, and with the recent ACC expansion that has never been more clear.
Across college athletics, the push for conference expansion has been driven by football and the gigantic television contracts that TV networks hand out to the nation's BCS conferences. But the addition of Pittsburgh and Syracuse -- perennial contenders in basketball with mediocre football programs -- proves the conference is also interested in re-establishing itself as the nation's best basketball conference.
No one denies that the addition of these school's will help the league expand its appeal in the northeast. But the Boston Globe's Mark Blaudschun reports that while football money was the main reason for the move, it was also about basketball.
According to sources in the Big East and ACC, the idea is to reestablish the ACC as the preeminent conference in college basketball and was a predatory strike at the Big East, which, while struggling to improve its BCS rankings in football, had established itself as the runaway leader in basketball.
This makes even more sense when you consider that the ACC reportedly wanted to add Syracuse and Connecticut, but Boston College blocked UConn's bid. UConn, coming off a national championship, would have given the ACC an even bigger basketball profile.
Of course, like everything else, it's all about the money. And BC athletic director Gene DeFilippo said this move was about football money:
"We always keep our television partners close to us. You don’t get extra money for basketball. It’s 85 percent football money. TV -- ESPN -- is the one who told us what to do. This was football; it had nothing to do with basketball.’’
But even so, the ACC has aligned itself as an elite basketball conference by adding two top teams from its closest competition.