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Connecticut V. Louisville: For All The ACCs

Maryland announced it was leaving the Atlantic Coast Conference Monday. Now, the ACC will likely move quickly to replace the Terrapins. The question becomes, which school makes the most sense? Here's an argument for it to be Louisville.


Freakin' Maryland. A school best known athletically for this image. Sure, Maryland has had limited success on the fields and courts, Boomer Esiason and Juan Dixon are a couple of names that spring to mind. But when it comes to sports, Maryland's biggest consistent achievement is simply being a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Well, now its probably best known for being the first school to leave the Atlantic Coast Conference since South Carolina's ugly departure in 1971. Maryland voluntarily leaves the ACC? The hell?

Of course, it's not necessarily stupid for the Terps to jump. The ACC is on shakier ground than the other "power conferences." (The Big East is not a power conference, sorry Rick Pitino.) So, if the Big 10 calls, you pick up. But of all schools to throw some fuel on the conference realignment fire, Maryland had to be one of the least likely. Rutgers being a very close second -- but it makes more sense for the Scarlet Knights to be linked to realignment stories given the state of the Big East.

Maryland, on the other hand, had it cushy in the ACC. A low athletic budget, low expectations, and the relative safety of the BCS. That's gone now. Yes, there is safety in the Big 10, with all its television money and exposure, and there certainly is the BCS safety too. But Maryland will have to step things up in the Big 10 -- spend more money, deal with greater expectations and scrutiny. It'll be a whole new world.

As for the ACC? All of a sudden the Big 10 just ACC'd the ACC. A charter member is off to play with new, bigger, richer, friends. Who's to replace this?

Let's head over to the wonderful world of Twitter for some help:

First, it seems like the choice is between Connecticut and Louisville, right?

@JFowlerCBS ACC in talks with UConn, Louisville, South Florida and Cincinnati about 14th team to replace Maryland, source told .

>cartoonishly rubs eyes>The hell? It's a reality show style competition to get into the ACC now, like The Bachelor? Which ever school can impress the ACC's family, win some worthless side-competitions, and survive the weekend trip to the mountains will get the proposal?

Or is it ACC commissioner John Swofford is so upset with Maryland leaving he's taking a flamethrower to the Big East? Just go back and finish off what he started nearly a decade ago when the ACC took Miami and Virginia Tech (sorry, Boston College). Burn the village and ride off with the Huskies, Cardinals, Bulls, and Bearcats.

Let's assume that's not the case, as it doesn't feel like the ACC needs to counter losing Maryland with incorporating four new programs. Instead, for sanity's sake, let's go back to assuming it's just Connecticut v. Louisville, winner take all.

Who ya got?

@OrangeBob77 I think UofL will be the pick. However much like leaving the BE I would prefer UCONN with our history in BB

It's a little like watching the NCAA tournament isn't it? That weird mindset when a Big East team is playing another team from another conference and, as Syracuse faithful, you kind of root for the Big East team. If the Big East team wins it makes the conference look better and, indirectly, Syracuse look better.

Of course, both teams are Big East schools, but to most fans Connecticut is more Big East than Louisville. Sure, UConn wasn't a charter member and the football team practically just joined the conference, but Jim Calhoun clouds our vision, doesn't he? Calhoun made Connecticut in just about every way, and in doing so he and the school became one of Syracuse's biggest rivals.

Having Connecticut in the ACC is having a little piece of history along with it. Georgetown will not be walking through that ACC door, but the next closest thing could be.

@JeremyRyan44 UConn grabs a bigger chunk of the Northeast and NYC, but BC (and SU) won't like it. Would be great for hoops, so-so for FB.

(BTW - follow Jeremy for good insight following SU football and hoops games. Doing a killer job.)

That's the other part here, grabbing Connecticut gives the ACC further access into the Northeast. Having Boston College and Syracuse and the Huskies would provide more TV sets for the ACC to be on. Not to mention, it's not just SU with a strong hold on New York City. UConn can provide marketable games at the new Meadowlands or even Yankee Stadium.

A lot pro-Connecticut-to-the-ACC tweets came rolling in.

@gooner_ UConn makes sense. Plus, good for SU.

@AndyKinsella UConn for several reasons. L'ville can go Big 10 when they're invited.

While I see the sentiment, I think it is important to point out that the Huskies athletic program may be about to hit a major rough patch. Its football program is in shambles and may be close to firing head coach Paul Pasqualoni (I know, shocking). And the men's basketball program, even after its opening game win over Michigan State, is likely to get hit hard with restrictions and penalties from the NCAA and will certainly start to take a few steps backward, even though I do think Kevin Ollie is the right man for the job.

Connecticut is unstable, and the exact opposite of instability, right now, is Louisville. A football program a win away from a return BCS trip. A top 25 team led by Charlie Strong, a rising star that seems, seems, right at home in the Commonwealth. As for hoops, the men's team is no. 2 in the country, fresh off a trip to the Final Four, and it calls Pitino, a future Hall of Famer, coach.Things are good for Cardinals fans.

The only real problem? Nobody but the Big East seems to want the school. The Big 12 took West Virginia and TCU. The ACC took Syracuse and Pittsburgh. And now the Big 10 is taking Maryland and Rutgers? Ouch babe.

We hear Jim Delany and Sworfford say they choose schools based on academia and that's why most people speculate Louisville is a bride's maid when it comes to conference realignment. Bogus. It has nothing to do with education and everything to do with markets and money. Kentucky, middle America, that's not an area worth venturing into for conferences. They want the east coast, the west coast, the money.

That's why Connecticut and not Louisville may be soon on its way to the ACC.

But as freakin' Maryland pack its bags, nearly 60 years a member, we need to realize this isn't about history and nostalgia -- it hasn't been for years. No one told the Big East until it was too late. I think we all realize the conference Syracuse is leaving isn't the conference we remember. The Big East, for all intents and purposes is dead. That's why there is little reason to cling to the past by wanting Connecticut to join the Orange in the new world.

The Huskies' market is effectively the same as BC's, the NYC access is the same given to the conference by Syracuse, and the future of the major programs isn't at all bright. Actually, in a lot of ways, the ACC could be replacing Maryland with Maryland.

Louisville, still relatively strange to Big East fans and maybe even college football traditionalists, provides a different and new market, a different angle, and teams with bright futures. Ultimately, the Cardinals may not provide the glue to ultimately keep the ACC together, but it does provide something new, something different, and just enough of a spark to keep the conference going, for now anyway.