Conference realignment has been a hot topic in college football for some time now, and West Virginia is a name that has been thrown around quite a bit. There have been plenty of whispers going around that the ACC and SEC have had their eyes on WVU. Now the volume of those whispers is beginning to grow louder, and louder.
Some very reliable sources have made it clear that WVU is currently one of the ACC’s top targets. Other targets include Pitt, Syracuse, Rutgers, and UConn. It is believed at this point that WVU has the support necessary to make the move. We have been told that WVU would have the votes from Virginia Tech, Maryland, Virginia, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Miami, Boston College, and Clemson. Schools that strongly oppose the addition of WVU are Duke and North Carolina. At this point it seems to be unclear where Wake Forest and NC State stand on the issue.
West Virginia would need 75% (9 out of 12) of the votes to be accepted into the ACC. NC State and Wake Forest suddenly become very important to us because they would be the two swing votes.
Some have suggested that Wake Forest is now against the possibility of adding WVU to the mix because of the way the coaching situation was handled this off-season with former Head Coach Bill Stewart and former Offensive Coordinator Jeff Mullen. We all know that Stewart is close friends with Jim Grobe (WF Head Coach) and that Mullen was a long-time assistant who was partly hired as a result of Grobe’s recommendation. Some believe he has expressed his hard feelings for WVU to his AD and President. We are not sure how much truth there is to that rumor, but it is very interesting. If we don’t have their votes, I believe it would have more to do with the influence of Duke and North Carolina.
NC State is the other swing vote. Their big brothers on Tobacco Road clearly don’t want West Virginia to join the ACC, but our sources tell us that NC State actually supports WVU despite being under great pressure from Duke and North Carolina.
My thoughts on the swing votes? I believe it is very likely that we could get at least one, if not both of the votes from Wake Forest or NC State. That would give us the needed votes.
For those of you who are excited about a possible move to the ACC… don’t get too excited just yet. There are a couple other road blocks other than the lack of votes from the Carolina schools. It has been made clear that the SEC is targeting Florida State, Clemson, and Virginia Tech. If any of those schools decided to make the jump to the SEC, it would affect our votes for ACC inclusion.
If two of those three teams left, let’s say Florida State and Clemson, it would remove two of our votes. The question with that is whether or not that would impact the votes of the Carolina schools. Losing two respectable football programs with passionate fanbases would have a huge negative impact on the conference, which would only make them more desperate to add a school that has a lot to offer like West Virginia. WVU would be major boost to ACC football and basketball. Would Duke and North Carolina have to reconsider?
Need another scenario… how about this one? Now let’s say that the ACC keeps FSU, Clemson, and VT, but I’m wrong on the swing votes and WVU doesn’t get the 75% they need. From what I am hearing, if those schools turned down the SEC, West Virginia would be the next target for college football’s premier conference. Wouldn’t that be interesting!
Another thing to consider… West Virginia isn’t the ACC’s only target. We are one of their top targets, but we’re not the only one. They are also looking at fellow Big East schools like Pitt, Syracuse, and Rutgers. All three of those schools have been mentioned as possible candidates for Big Ten expansion in the past. If the ACC and SEC decide to expand to 14-16 team, the Big Ten would have to make a move too. The votes for the ACC are all mixed between WVU and the other Big East teams. If the Big Ten decided to take Syracuse and Pitt, that would only increase our chances of being voted into the ACC.
Everybody has a different opinion when it comes to conference realignment. I receive emails daily from WVU fans who want to share their opinions. Some would love to join the ACC, some want to join the SEC, and some want to stay right where we are in the Big East. Let’s look at some of the positives and negatives from all three scenarios.
- Renew rivalries with Virginia Tech, Maryland, Boston College, and Miami
- Fans are within short driving distance of several schools including VT, UVA, Duke, UNC, Maryland, etc.
- New conference matchups with solid programs such as Florida State, Clemson, and Georgia Tech
- Still in a great basketball conference
- Is it really that much of an upgrade in football? The ACC hasn’t exactly set the college football world on fire since they raided the Big East.
- Member of the nation’s best college football conference
- Recruiting would take a huge boost
- Exciting matchups almost every single week
- Regional battles with schools like Kentucky, Tennessee, Vanderbilt
- Very tough to win consistently
- Have to go through Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, South Carolina, Alabama, LSU, Auburn, etc.
- SEC basketball is not very appealing other than yearly matchups with Kentucky
- Finish what we started. We’ve carried the Big East on our back after the ACC raid… let’s keep this thing going.
- The addition of TCU will greatly improve the national perception of the conference
- We are always one of the favorites to win the conference. Easiest road to a BCS game and/or National Championship
- Stay in the premier college basketball conference
- There are talks of the Big East getting a huge tv deal. Possibly better than the ACC and Big 12
- Lack of respect
- The Big East is considered the weakest of the BCS conferences
- Lack of big time conference matchups
Obiously all three options have their own advantages and disadvantages. If I had to make a decision I would probably choose to join the ACC. Conference games with Virginia Tech, Maryland, Virginia, Miami, Florida State, and others are very exciting to me. In my opinion it would be a significant upgrade over games against schools like Louisville, Cincinnati, Rutgers, and Connecticut. We would still be in a great basketball conference with power programs such as Duke and North Carolina. A move to the ACC would also boost the academic image of West Virginia University.
What to hope for if you want to move to the ACC:
- WVU gets swing votes from NC State or Wake Forest
- VT stays put in the ACC. It appears that the rumors are true and they are a major supporter for WVU.
- FSU and Clemson also turn down the SEC
- The Big Ten picks up one or two schools between Pitt, Syracuse, or Rutgers
What to hope for if you want to move to the SEC:
- FSU, Clemson, and VT turn down SEC
What to hope for if you want to stay in the Big East:
- Big East comes through with a solid tv deal
- Big East adds another solid football program to go along with TCU
- Big Ten does not add any Big East schools
I have ignored this topic for a long time, mainly because I cringe every time I see some of our fans begging to join other conferences. People need to realize that WVU football will be fine no matter how the dominoes fall. Overall, I don’t believe WVU fans are desperate to join the ACC or any other conference, nor do I think we should be. I still think we are in a pretty good position where we are. I like what the Big East did in adding TCU, and I continue to hear positive things about a possible tv deal.
Although this is all far from a done deal, where this is smoke, there is usually fire. In this case, there is a whole lot of smoke. From what I am hearing, it seems very likely that West Virginia could move out of the Big East, and it could happen a lot sooner than most think.