Realignment and expansion have dominated the world of college football since the news of Oklahoma and Texas broke at SEC Media Days last week. Questions remain about just how widespread the domino effect could be, especially in leagues like the ACC. With 14 full-time programs, along with Notre Dame as a partial member, the ACC doesn’t necessarily need to expand. New commissioner Jim Phillips wants to improve the football product in the league, as well as continue to grow distribution for the ACC Network. Any program that is added to the league needs to increase the overall revenue to prevent a drop in the individual payouts to each program in the conference.
There’s no guarantee the ACC expands to 15 or 16 full-time members. But what if the league considers expansion? Athlon Sports details the best fits as members for the conference:
ACC Football: If the Conference Expands, Which Teams are Candidates to Join?
The Obvious Choices
Convincing Notre Dame to join a conference is likely impossible, but the ACC can put a full-court press on the Golden Domers and see if there is any path to full membership. Any conversation about ACC expansion starts with figuring out what Notre Dame wants to do.
The Mountaineers should be choice No. 2 behind Notre Dame as a full-time member. And perhaps a case could be made to get the Mountaineers into the league as the 15th program without Notre Dame – provided the revenue works out. Bringing West Virginia into the league gets old rivalries against Pitt and Virginia Tech back on the schedule.
The Next Tier
A new television market and a fertile recruiting territory in Ohio would be positives for Cincinnati to sell. Also, the program is on the rise under coach Luke Fickell and has just five losing seasons since 2000.
The Jayhawks would bring a strong basketball program to a conference that already excels in that department. Also, expanding to the Midwest would potentially allow for more viewers to connect with the ACC Network. Football has been a struggle in recent years for Kansas, but new coach Lance Leipold provides optimism this program can soon trend in the right direction.
The Midshipmen have been mentioned before in previous rounds of expansion and realignment for the ACC. Navy certainly fits from a geography perspective and brings a national following and fan base. However, this would be a steep increase in overall competition for the Midshipmen.
Geography isn’t on Oklahoma State’s side, but that factor isn’t too big of a concern these days (see West Virginia in the Big 12). The Cowboys would bring a new market and a football program that hasn’t had a losing season since 2005 into the mix.
The Dallas-Fort Worth media market would certainly appeal for purposes of the ACC Network and recruiting connections for the conference. TCU has finished in the top 25 11 times under coach Gary Patterson.
The ACC already has in the Sunshine State covered with Florida State and Miami, so it’s a longshot UCF would get an invitation if the league decided to expand. The Knights do have one of the biggest enrollments for an FBS program, have finished in the top 25 four times since 2013, and went 13-0 in ’17.
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