Chris Graham: What UVa., UNC to Big Ten would mean
UVa., UNC football: They are natural football rivals, meaning they still play every year, and also play Maryland every year.
For UVa. in particular, the move in football is a boost, if only because the next couple of years seem to be mighty lean, given the snail’s pace to the rebuilding job being led by Mike London. Attendance was bound to continue trending downward in the interim, but a move to tbe Big Ten turns the schedule completely on its head, in a good way.
The new-car smell of the first couple of seasons in the Big Ten could artificially boost attendance at Scott Stadium until (ahem … if?) the London rebuilding comes to reality.
Interesting sidebar here: I’m assuming that Virginia Tech, when the dust settles from all of this, ends up in the SEC. Frank Beamer turns this into a huge recruiting advantage in the talent-rich 757 area code. You can play for us, and be in the glow of the SEC, or you can go to Virginia, and you’re stuck in the slow Big Ten. It’s not hard to figure out how that one turns out for the orange and blue.
If the SEC thing doesn’t work out for Tech, then the Hokies end up in the Big 12. Which, on the plus side of the ledger, allows Tech to rekindle its rivalry with West Virginia. On the minus side of the ledger, the advantage in recruiting 757 swings back to UVa. It’s not hard to imagine London’s pitch to recruits there. You can play for us, and play on national TV every week, or you can go to Tech, and play Kansas and Iowa State. Yikes.
UVa., UNC basketball: UNC has dominated the ACC for four decades. Does Carolina dominate the much, much deeper Big Ten? Doubtful. The Heels, of course, avail themselves well, but the Big Ten is top to bottom the best basketball conference in the country, hands-down.
UVa. adjusts well because the style of play in the Big Ten plays to the strengths of coach Tony Bennett, whose Pack Line defense and patient approach to offense is challenged by the run-and-gun style in the ACC.
The ‘Hoos are still a middle-of-the-pack program, but the pack is so much healthier that their fortunes rise as a result.
ACC: The end of the world as we’ve known it. Florida State, Miami, Georgia Tech, Clemson and Virginia Tech, at the least, have to already be looking for their next conference home. No way those schools are idly waiting to be scooped up by somebody else. You can probably add North Carolina State to that list.
Which leaves Duke, Wake Forest, Boston College, Notre Dame, Pitt and Syracuse without dance partners. Maybe those schools partner with some of the scraps of the also-pending Big East implosion – Georgetown, Providence, St. John’s, Villanova, Seton Hall and Temple – to form a Northeast-based sports league.
Actually, from a TV-market standpoint, that wouldn’t be a bad league arrangement at all. The football would be terrible, assuming that Notre Dame stays independent, but the basketball would be mighty strong.