For the first time in the past decade’s realignment carousel, commissioner John Swofford and the ACC will be making a reactionary move. After Maryland‘s defection over to the Big Ten today, the ACC is faced with replacing one of its founding members, while catering to the differing needs of the conference as a whole, and both new and old members of the league.
If the only goal is to simply replace Maryland with another school, then the clear-cut choice would be Connecticut. Providing another team in the general northeast area, the Huskies already have rivalries with Syracuse and Pittsburgh, plus an easy new one with regional foe Boston College. But there’s so much more to consider as realignment takes a turn. Up until this point the number-one rule of realignment was John Swofford always wins. Now that this has been proven patently false, the league must quickly adjust, not only to add replace the Terps, but to keep the rest of its members in place as well. And that’s no easy task, considering the league’s pipeline for new members has virtually dwindled to four.
According to CBS Sports, the ACC is having conversations about adding a replacement school already, and plan to act quickly. The candidates should not surprise anyone: Connecticut, Louisville, USF and Cincinnati, with the former two being the frontrunners. For UConn, the draws are an easy cultural and academic fit, well-rounded athletics outside of football and a close proximity to ESPN’s Bristol, Conn. campus. Louisville, while lagging behind on the academic front, has made a huge investment in athletics over the past 10 years and has strong football and basketball brands. The Louisville area also appears to be a growing market, and could potentially be an assist when it comes to television negotiations.