If you don't know about all of this by now, it's time to wake up. On Friday night, rumours broke that Syracuse and Pittsburgh had applied for ACC membership. That news was confirmed on Saturday as we engrossed ourselves in college football. And on Sunday morning, the mayhem was complete when it was officially announced that the two schools had joined the ACC.
Since then, it's been a wave of excitement and panic for Villanova fans. Sources within Villanova have told us that the school has been talking to the ACC for a while now, and late yesterday it was revealed Villanova had officially applied to the ACC amidst news that the conference was talking to an additional 10 schools.
All of this news has sent the Big East's basketball-only schools into a panic, and they'll speak via phone todayy without the football schools. Seems like they finally smartened up and realized that the big boys don't care one bit about them.
So this thing could go one of a few ways for Villanova - and as we stand right now, things do not look good. We'll explore some of the scenarios after The Jump.
Scenario 1 - The "Catholic" League
Right now, this looks like the most probable scenario for 'Nova. Unfortunately, it's also the worst. I mean, we're talking absolute nightmare. Right now the Big East consists of 8 basketball-only schools.
- St. John's
- Seton Hall
- Notre Dame
ND is the biggest wildcard here. Anyone thinking they are going to join a conference and include their prized treasure trove full of cash of a football team are kidding themselves. Wherever they go (and it could be a few places), they are going for all sports minus football. What they do hear probably doesn't have much effect though. This group of teams would probably tear away from the football schools, try to pick up Xavier, Dayton, Butler and perhaps St. Louis, and form their own basketball league.
Villanova has a shot to avoid this scenario. They need to, or we're talking doomsday. There is no money in this league. Or at least not the money we're accustomed to generating. If Villanova ends up with this conference, you might as well sign us up to be in the same boat as St. Joe's (PA). I just threw up a bit in my mouth at the thought.
Scenario 2 - Align With The Football Schools
The remaining Big East teams - Louisville, UConn, Rutgers, South Florida, West Virginia, Cincinnati, TCU - are in a mess right now. UConn wants the ACC. Rutgers wants the ACC or Big 10. West Virginia would kill to go to the SEC. TCU you just feel bad for at this point.
They wanted Villanova for football once, they might just be desperate enough to take them again and try to take some Big 12 scraps in Kansas and Kansas State after Oklahoma and Oklahoma State go to the Pac-12 (any minute now). That would at least keep the conference together and add a few solid programs.
The key here is that UConn and West Virginia almost surely have an out to another conference. And if they have the chance, they're running. And I can't blame them. I don't think you can say the same for the rest though. This would be Villanova's ticket to getting their FBS football program off the ground in a league they can probably compete in sooner rather than later.
The bad thing - this league may not be an BCS-AQ conference. I don't see how it could be, actually. This is a fair tradeoff because you're talking a lower overall quality of basketball, but we're getting football off the ground, which is a big plus.
Scenario 3 - Our Friends In ACC Country Throw Us A Bone
This isn't imminent (though it is what everyone is getting excited about), but right now this might be the best potential option we can get excited about. The ACC with the addition of Pitt and Syracuse is the new power in college basketball. Basically, it's on the road to becoming what the Big East has been for the past 5 years. And from all John Swofford has said there is no reason to doubt that basketball isn't driving at least some of the conversation.
Villanova would bring the Philadelphia market (and despite what you think, Philadelphia cares about college basketball and Villanova), and they bring some natural rivalries with UConn, Pittsburgh and Syracuse in addition to renewing a Boston College rivalry. A lot to like there.
The problem here is that the ACC holds all the cards. They are in no rush (nor should they be) to add a 15th, 16, (or 17th and 18th member). Villanova has no power here. They can only make their pitch (which probably includes a promise to stop the football upgrade to FBS) and hope that their is support from some other conference members. Syracuse and BC would for sure be in our corner. Hitching their wagon to Notre Dame (who would come as all-sports minus football) would help a ton too.
The Big East proved an 18-team basketball conference will work as long as there's quality, and this version of the ACC would have that in droves. Plus, with ND and Villanova, they keep their football count at 14 (for now) or 16 (if they add more football schools). It still gives them a ton of flexibility.
Scenario 4 - Become An ACC Football Member
Also known as the "I'd walk across a field of broken glass while on fire to make this happen" scenario. The ultimate longshot. And despite me writing this, I'm sure the ACC-fanboys will flood here and Twitter with the typical 'Villanova arrogance' crap.
Let's be clear - this is not only improbable, it's downright near impossible. So much needs to happen for this to be realistic. But it's not dead til it's dead. We've put a lot of effort into a potential football upgrade, and we shouldn't just forget about that. Because having football is always better than not having football.
Oh, and did I mention how there's just no way how this happens unless the ACC Presidents collectively have a moment of idiocy?
Right now, I'm fully behind scenario #3. It's what we should be rooting for. Sure, it probably kills the football dream, but if the alternative is being stuck in a league with St. Louis and becoming nationally irrelevant forever, I'm fine giving up the pigskin.
We need to protect our most valuable asset - and that is basketball. End of story.