Pittsburgh and Syracuse will join the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Over the past three weeks, amid talks of the SEC picking up a thirteenth team, Pittsburgh and Syracuse were negociating with the ACC about membership. Both schools were voted in as members of the ACC yesterday, and it was announced this morning that the Atlantic Coast Conference would become a fourteen-team conference. The schools have to pay a $5 million exit fee and give the Big East 27 months notice before leaving according to Big East bylaws. This would mean that Syracuse and Pitt would not be able to start playing in the ACC until the 2014 season.
The Big East is now left with seven football-playing members once TCU arrives next season. It appears TCU is the biggest loser, moving to a conference that has an uncertain future, and it is still almost a year before it arrives in said conference. Rumors are circling that Connecticut and Rutgers desparately would like to join the ACC now. If this happens, the Big East would be left with just five football-playing members.
In my August 14, 2011 post, I mentioned that of the six BCS conferences, the Big East and the Atlantic Coast Conference have the two weakest football brands of the six, and it is clear the conference dominoes are being driven by the sport of football. Thus, if superconferences were to emerge, and it looked like with Texas A&M looking to go to the SEC they would, the Big East and the ACC would be the most likely to get carved up. The ACC knew this and made a preemptive strike and become the first fourteen-team conference in order to remain relevant. Now, all of the pressure is on a crumbling Big East.
Will other conferences move to fourteen or sixteen teams to counter the ACC?
Will the Big East survive as a football conference?
What will be the next domino to fall in this wave of conference realignment?