Monday, June 2, 2014

The "Big East-ing" Of The ACC Is Nearly Complete

We all know and are having to accept the changing landscape of college sports.  Whether it is your favorite school switching conferences, your favorite conference adding or losing schools or rivalries all over the place dying out ... it has been quite the adjustment.

It is hard to find a group of schools that have had to deal with a bigger adjustment than the ones that comprise the current ACC.  There are the six remaining 'original' schools that have been in the league and rivals for over 60 years.  Then you have Georgia Tech (1979) and Florida State (1991) that have been members for decades.  Now you have seven schools that have been added since 2004 that used to call the Big East home.  A lot of changes to a lot of schools.

From my standpoint, this has been tough.  I'm an ACC fan (a North Carolina fan, to be specific).  I am one of those people who loved the league for the round-robin schedule.  I loved those rivalries.  I loved the pretty much tight geographic nature of the league.  I enjoy the small town atmosphere of the ACC Tournament in Greensboro.

Don't get me wrong.  I know that in this world of survival, the ACC had to add on to its membership.  I mean, this league will not only have North Carolina and Duke but now has Syracuse and will be adding Louisville in a month.  This is a league that pretty much owns the eastern coast major college haul.  The league expands as far north as Boston, as far west as Notre Dame and as far south as Miami (before that, Maryland was the northern school, Georgia Tech was the furthest west and Florida State was the furthest south).

The new ACC is not only expanding its membership, but changing nearly everything.  The ACC tournament will be in Brooklyn in a few years.  It has taken over Big Monday ... which used to be the Big East's thing.  Very soon, the ACC will also take the Big East tournament's time slot on ESPN and hold their championship game on Saturday night.

What used to be the biggest difference between the ACC and Big East is the style of play.  The ACC was more of a finesse league with athleticism and smooth play while the Big East prided itself on a rough and tumble approach.  This past ACC champion?  Virginia who employed a defensive style that saw many final scores in the 50s and 60s.

To many long time ACC fans, the Big East-ing of the league is nearly complete now that the new logo ... shown above ... looks a lot like what the Big East had at the end of their run.

I like this new ACC.  I loved the old one.

Like I said, I like having UNC, Duke, Syracuse and Louisville in one league together.  I like having Notre Dame, Pitt, Miami and Virginia Tech.  Even Boston College ... who seemed totally out of place when joining in 2005 ... has grown on me.  I hate not playing everyone twice.  I hate the ACC tournament taking (it seems) two weeks now.  I hate that Maryland left.

The league has already become fractured.  Just like most of the other huge conferences, there are varying interests and varying agendas.  Just one year into the new setup, the ACC meetings were filled with drama as members were split on an 8 or 9 game football schedule.  There has been grumblings about the amount of time between meetings on the gridiron.  That's what happens when half the members have been together for such a long time and had to make additions just to keep their conference together ... and when the other half was uprooted from their traditions and comfort to keep a little of their way of life.

I hate that the charm of the league is gone.

Not to wax nostalgic, but that's why college conferences were formed.  Schools from a close geographic area who held the same agenda.  They held a bond.  Boston College, a northern Catholic school, doesn't have that much in common with southern schools like a Clemson.  However, they do have the biggest of shared interests -- to make a ton of money off intercollegiate athletics.

That drives change.  

The funny thing is that sports has always been like that.  Sports is the one thing where change always happens.  In college, players graduate.  New recruits come in.  In the pros, rookies enter the league and the old guys retire.  Innovation in sports always occur.  Rules changes.  Uniform changes.  Expansion.  Relocation.  It always happens.

But college sports traditions are among the most precious and it always stings when those either end or dramatically altered.  And that's how the ACC fan feels right now.

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