As a Duke fan, I just wanted to say that it's nice to see a forum where sports fan exchange interesting viewpoints without devolving into the usual message board flaming. I really enjoyed reading all your posts. I actually think that Louisville is a more likely add to the ACC than UK. I recently read that Louisville's basketball program is the 21st most profitable college sports program, apparently making it the most profitable basketball program: http://businessofcollegesports.com/2011/06/20/whi.... Plus, Louisville has a pretty decent football program. Personally, I think that if Notre Dame and Penn State both give the ACC the kiss-off (which seems likely), I think the ACC adds Louisville and Connecticut, unless Florida State, Clemson, and Virginia Tech object on football grounds. I also don't think this happens soon.
Personally, I enjoy the writings of Lexington Herald-Leader columnist Mark Story. (I’m sure he’s thrilled with that fact). But there’s one drum he won’t stop beating and it’s leading to me having to answer a whole lot of emails.
Over the weekend, Story suggested that due to Kentucky’s poor football history, the Wildcats should consider leaving the SEC for the more basketball-friendly ACC:
“UK basketball, having proven beyond all doubt it can dominate a football-first SEC, could test itself in a hoops-crazed ACC against the likes of North Carolina, Duke and Syracuse.
Kentucky football would move intoa league not nearly so top heavy as the SEC, yet could retain its current recruiting pipelines into states like Georgia and South Carolina (because UK would still be playing against Georgia Tech and Clemson in those states).”
Sounds good. Makes sense. No wonder such a simple “what would you think about this” column has spawned a thousand messageboard posts and a few dozen emails to my inbox.
But this is just someone tossing something up against the wall to see if it sticks. And Story did the same thing last year, too.
When the Big Ten was rumored to be on the expansion hunt last summer, these words appeared under Story’s byline:
“For a singular reason, I think it would behoove the University of Kentucky to at least consider trying to become part of the Big Ten’s expected expansion process.
That reason is football.
UK and the overwhelming majority of its fan base may see Kentucky as a basketball school, but even here in Lexington it is football that brings home the financial bacon. …
Even with the presence of traditional titans Ohio State, Michigan and Penn State, history says there is significantly more chance for football upward mobility up north.”
Story is a columnist. As a writer, his job is to provoke thought and start talk. Unfortunately, in the internet world we now live in, it only takes a few folks who don’t understand his mission to begin the “UK’s leaving for the ACC!” rumor mill in earnest.
I’m amazed how many times in our own comment boxes that readers will suggest I include something in my story… that I’d already included in the story. The lesson: Many of us don’t finish a read — or stop to consider whether a story is a news article or an opinion-based column — before we start thinking of how we ourselves should respond. Either in a comment box or on a messageboard.
Thus the emails I’ve gotten today saying things like this: “I heard over the weekend that the ACC is keen on Kentucky and the Cats want out. Is this going to happen? What are you hearing?”
Uh, no. It’s not going to happen. Kentucky is a founding member of the nation’s most successful athletic conference. (Sorry, Pac-12, we don’t count cross-country ballroom dancing as a sport.) UK is in a league that is incredibly stable, the school makes money hand over fist, and it has a voice equal to all others in the conference.
In addition, there’s is no bad blood between Kentucky and any of its conference-mates, a la Texas A&M and Texas.
That leaves the most likely UK motivation for leaving the SEC as fear. And personally, I can’t recall any major schools jumping leagues out of fear. Money, stability, and academics? Yes. Geography? Yes, that too. But the desire to tuck tail and run? Nope.
Keep the Big Blue Nation in mind here, too. Kentucky fans are basketball crazy. Are we to believe they would sacrifice some basketball success in order to achieve a bit more football success? Because just as Virginia, Wake Forest and Maryland would be easier foes on the gridiron, Duke, Carolina and Syracuse would present a very serious upgrade on the hardwood.
So whaddya think? That Cat fans would be happier with a third-place finish in ACC hoops so long as they could notch another couple of football victories per season?
Sorry. Not buying.
Florida State is a school that is said to be open to discussing a move from the ACC to the SEC. They’re viewed a football school in a basketball league… the opposite of Kentucky. But unlike UK, an FSU move would add cash to that school’s coffers. The Cats would take a paycut. Also, the ACC lives in constant fear of a Big Ten or SEC raid. The SEC doesn’t have to worry about such stability issues.
Story was doing his job and tossing out an idea. Unfortunately, that mental spitball has launched a wave of rumors about UK and the ACC “seriously” flirting with one another.
But this website will say the same thing we said when it was rumored Arkansas would leave for the Big 12 and Vanderbilt would leave for the Big Ten — we’ll believe someone’s leaving the SEC just as soon as they actually do it.