As far as conference prestige goes, the NBE, ironically, has actually proven to be a far more credible football confrence than the new ACC. In 2005, the BE champ beat the SEC champ in the Sugar Bowl. Last year, they had 3 NC contenders deep into the season and boasted a perfect bowl record, including a whipping by their conference champ over the ACC’s champ in the Orange Bowl. This year the BE once again has 3 NC contenders while the ACC’s only supposed contender was exposed as a pretender by LSU, in humiliating fashion, two weeks into the season. And the BE is home to FOUR potential Heisman finalists. Consider also that the BE has up-and-coming programs in USF and Cincy and that pretty much all of its teams play exciting offensive football, and it becomes impossible to deny that our move to the ACC, land of boring 13-10 games and mediocre 6-6 records, was anything other than a move to an inferior football conference.
In regard to on-field impact, the move has had the primary effect of substantially handicapping us for both the national and conference championship chases. The most obvious handicap is the contrived ACC CG, but beyond that, the scheduling automatically puts us in a hole vis-a-vis FSU and VT because we play each of them every year, whereas they only play each other intermittently. This was the situation back when we were in the BE, but it made no difference then because the FSU game was non-conference and didn’t impact our chances of getting the automatic BCS bid.
On top of the handicap of playing FSU and VT every year, every other year we have to play them both on the road. How or why Dee agreed to that scheduling, I’ll never know, but the cummulative on-field impact of the move to the ACC is that our annual national championship chances have probably been cut in half and that the most likely participants in any given ACC CG will be FSU and VT.
Finally, there is the style of play of the teams in the ACC, which can only be described as boring and ugly. When you play 8 games against that type of competition every year, it tends to rub off, even if only subconsciously. That seems to have already happened with our program.
As to the fiscal impact, our athletic department was losing money back in the BE and it was thought (hoped?) that this move to the ACC would result in a windfall because of extra revenue from the ACC CG and lower travel costs for the non-revenue sports. It hasn’t worked out that way.
We’ve lost millions of dollars from paying the BE exit fee, the ACC entrance fee, and eating Coker’s contract; the travel expenses for non-revenue teams have actually increased; and the athletic department is still hemorrhaging money. On top of that, we’re making less money from baseball because we had to give up our independent affiliation: we had to give up our television contract with FSN, since the ACC owns the broadcast rights, and we have fewer home dates (i.e. less gate revenue) because the ACC requires its teams to play at least 20 road games (whereas we used to play at most 10). The great financial advantages of ACC affiliation that were hoped for and promised have simply failed to materialize.
Lastly, ACC affiliation has resulted in a decrease in exposure for the football program. The Northeast, aside from being the nation’s media capital, is also home to the second largest group of UM alums and students. Back in the BE days, our entire conference schedule, with the exception of VT and West Virginia, consisted of teams from that geographic area (Syracuse, BC, Rutgers, Pitt, Temple), and UM games were almost always televised into that market. If ABC or ESPN Plus had regional games on a Saturday, the BE game would always be shown because the NY, NJ, CT, Mass, PA, etc. markets were BE “home” markets, and invariably the BE team involved in those games would be Miami (the largest TV draw). The ACC has no “home” teams in the NY, NJ, CT, or PA markets, so those markets get either Big Ten or Big East regionally televised games. Our Northeast alums and students are getting about 4or 5 less televised games per year than when we were in the BE, in addition to losing the ability to attend annual road games in the region.
Then, of course, there is the stupidity of the ACC in putting UM and BC in different divisions. The net effect of that move was to eliminate an annual rival for UM and to further decrease our exposure in the northeast, while simultaneously giving FSU exposure in the northeast (when it previously had none) and a brand new rival with which to gain a foothold in the region.
In sum, the effects of the move to the ACC have been singularly disastrous.
- We’re now affiliated with a conference of boring and offensively-inept football teams that is inferior to our old conference.
- We have substantially decreased our ability to win national and conference championships, and put ourselves at a competitive disadvantage vis-a-vis our two conference rivals, FSU and VT.
- The quality of our program has decayed to its lowest point since probation.
- The athletic department is still way in the red.
- We’ve suffered a significant decrease in national exposure.
- We lost our annual series with BC.
- The baseball team is generating less revenue than it had been as an independent and has suffered a noticeable decline on the diamond.
- And the basketball team still stinks.
I can’t think of one good thing the move to the ACC has wrought.