Kirk Herbstreit

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Monday, June 30
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Hokies and Hurricanes starting a trend

By Kirk Herbstreit
Special to

As rumors and anonymous sources continued to fuel speculation about which teams would be joining Miami in its move to the Atlantic Coast Conference, the fact that the ACC was courting the Hurricanes made one thing loud and clear: This was a move by a basketball conference to bolster its football reputation.

As a result, many in the football world believed Virginia Tech would somehow be involved in the expansion of the ACC. That has come to pass, and this jump is a no-brainer for both schools. Their addition to a league that already includes Florida State, Maryland, N.C. State and Virginia, immediately puts the ACC on par with conferences like the Big 12 or SEC.

Frank Beamer
Frank Beamer and his Hokies have helped raise the stakes in the ACC, leaving a huge void at the top of the Big East.
In football, the ACC is no longer one dominant team (Florida State) and a bunch of others that are competitive but unable to keep up. There is now great depth in that conference with six or seven teams capable of finishing in the top 25.

Some might say the Hokies are hypocrites, since they aligned with the rest of the Big East in a lawsuit against the ACC and two of its original targets -- Miami and Boston College -- then got out as soon as they had the chance. But who really expects Tech to say no to the ACC's overtures to remain in a league with such an uncertain future? No one can blame the Hokies for looking out for their school's best interests.

And the college football world can rest assured that the ACC is going to go after a 12th team in order to stage a lucrative conference championship game. Such a game would bring in significant revenue and give the league tremendous stability, both in terms of money-making potential and recognition as the best conference in football.

The major question now is the future of the Big East. With the Hokies and Hurricanes bolting, the Big East loses its football identity, as the two teams have won or shared nine of 12 championships in league history and combined for 102 wins over the last five seasons.

Where does the Big East go after being left out in the cold by its two best teams?

Louisville seems to be the one school that is a consensus pick to help fill that void, and Marshall is also being thrown out there. But there are plenty of issues to be ironed out, especially amongst the Big East basketball powers.

No matter what it does, the Big East and its automatic bid to the Bowl Championship series are in trouble. Five of eight BCS bids belong to the champions of the ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-10 and SEC, and the departure of Miami and VT leaves the Big East with teams like West Virginia, Syracuse, Boston College and Pittsburgh to carry the flag.

All are certainly respectable programs with plenty of tradition behind them, but do they carry the same weight as the top schools which perennially compete for the rest of the automatic bids? No.

The Big East is now in the same position as Conference USA and the Mountain West, and this turn of events may open a door for those conferences. If the remaining Big East schools were to battle it out for a BCS bid, how could the exclusion of teams like BYU, Colorado State or TCU be justified?

Perhaps the BCS should take the highest-ranked champion from any of those three conferences. Maybe there is some better solution already being worked out. But no matter what happens, the relationship between the BCS and the Big East will be reevaluated.

The ACC ruffled some feathers by being proactive in this situation, but there is a feeling among administrators and observers that this is the start of a trend. The ACC brass look like the bad guys only because they took the initiative first.

Had they waited much longer, the Big East or some other conference certainly would have made a similar move. The Big East will move quickly to remedy its situation, the Big Ten will continue to hold out for Notre Dame and the Pac-10 will eventually get on board and join the fun.

College athletics are headed down that road, and football dollars are driving the conference buses.

Kirk Herbstreit is an analyst for ESPN College GameDay and a regular contributor to during the college football season.

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