I’ll start this off by saying, yes, I’m well aware of just how unlikely it is that the ACC will be adding any of the schools listed in the title of this article. Notre Dame was willing to come aboard because the conference was willing to allow them a partial membership, and I doubt the Irish will suddenly have a change of heart now that they (as an independent) are one game away from playing for a national championship. Northwestern and Penn State are part of the Big Ten — you know, the league that just poached Maryland away in the name of potential revenues. And Vanderbilt is part of the never-ending cash cow that is the SEC. So again, I know what the ACC is up against here. But with our backs to the wall right now, why not at least throw up a Haily Mary and see what happens?
The school-by-school pitches
Notre Dame: “The league’s value would be grow immensely if you were in the fold. Why wouldn’t you want to make your conference more valuable? Along with your desired non-conference rivalries with Pac-12 schools, the ACC just hands you yearly traditional rivalries with Pitt and Boston College, and allows you primetime matchups with the likes of Clemson, Georgia Tech, Florida State and Virginia Tech. Worried about staying relevant in New York City? Syracuse has shown it’s more than willing to play a home game in East Rutherford every year. Didn’t want to lose D.C. with Maryland’s departure? Virginia Tech or Virginia can head on up there every so often, to make sure you get exposure in that market. Plus, if you come on-board full-time, it’ll be much easier to convince other “bigger” programs to join up as well. Really.”
Penn State: “We know the Big Ten has it out for you. That fumble call against Nebraska was part of a much larger conspiracy by the league and the NCAA to truly stick it to you in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal. They’re going to continue to do so. Oh, and remember when Penn State was able to claim a good chunk of the New York market due to its proximity and affiliation to the B1G? Well that’s gone too, now that Rutgers has joined the conference. Speaking of the Scarlet Knights, we have a proposition for you: trade matchups with them and the Terps at noon for games against FSU, Notre Dame and Miami. We’ll even let you restart your old, bitter rivalries against Syracuse and Pitt. And we’ll let you win games and compete for a national championship. Seriously.”
Northwestern: “So now Northwestern is the only private school amidst 13 (?!) land-grant institutions? That doesn’t sound all that fun, or competitive. The ACC has five private schools — six with Notre Dame — in the fold, so you’d actually be amongst friends. In the ACC, you’d also get to collaborate with similar institutions in an academic setting, and maybe we’d even be able to hold that private-school round-robin so many folks have talked about for awhile. You’re not even the most popular team in Chicago now, so might as well join the conference of the team that is. Oh, and we’d actually broadcast your basketball games, so that’s incentive, right?”
Vanderbilt: “You’re in the SEC, but you’re not really IN the SEC, y’know? You’re the only private institution in the conference, and you’re forced to play football against southern land-grant colleges who outmatch you in resources by millions. Like we told Northwestern (yeah, they’re interested, too!), we have six private schools already in our ranks, including Notre Dame and your pals, Wake Forest. As an academic-minded institution, I’m sure Vandy’s always a bit down about the lack of similar schools in the SEC. Pretty much all of our members possess stellar resumes as places of higher learning. Oh, and all that improvement you guys are currently experiencing while still never having a shot at a BCS bowl game? We’ll give you that shot. Vanderbilt can be a star in the ACC, while still staying true to its core values of academic excellence.”
Again, I’m not delusional. Pitches from the ACC out to other major conference teams are likely to fall on deaf ears. But isn’t it worth a shot? The ACC has developed a reputation as Big East 2.0, and if it doesn’t work to fix that, it may disappear. Louisville and UConn will be there if we need to pick one of them. Might as well go to the big fish first to make sure they’re not intrigued.