|Tuesday, May 13
Updated: May 14, 1:59 PM ET
Miami the prize coveted by both the ACC and Big East
By Ivan Maisel
Call up eBay, type in "Division I-A schools," and, as of Tuesday afternoon, the University of Miami should pop up. The Hurricanes are officially on the block, and as far as we know, there's no "Buy It Now!" price. The Atlantic Coast Conference will bid for Miami to come and bring two friends. The Big East Conference will bid for its perennial football champion to stay. Let the auction begin.
We all thought that when the ACC presidents voted, it would be the beginning of the end of this waiting game. Instead, it's the end of the beginning. So we wait. What will it take to lure Miami?
The ACC can offer the Hurricanes opponents who are closer to home, including an in-state rival, all of which would save considerable travel money in all sports. The ACC can offer more quality football opponents and an annual winter trip to Tobacco Road.
The Big East offers a shorter trip to a national championship in football (fewer tough opponents, no conference championship). The Big East conceivably can offer more money, more favorable terms, perhaps an all-sports conference that leaves behind the conference schools that don't play Division I-A football. The Big East will offer Miami whatever it has to offer, right down to the very last stone crab mallet.
If the ACC succeeds in plucking the best of the Big East, it fortifies its defenses against being raided by other conferences and solidifies its standing as a major I-A conference. First, however, the ACC must come to a consensus on which three teams to invite.
"Miami really wants Syracuse as part of its package," John Thrasher, chairman of the Florida State Board of Trustees, told The Charlotte Observer. "We definitely want Miami, Syracuse and Boston College, but a couple of ACC schools have a different view of that."
The ACC presidents couldn't decide between Boston College and Virginia Tech, which more than likely speaks to the politics of the Commonwealth of Virginia than it does the relative merits of the two schools.
Virginia's vote for expansion came with a proviso that Virginia Tech must be among the three schools. If the rest of the league, not to mention Miami, insists on Boston College, will Virginia rescind its vote and kill the expansion? Forget their relative strengths in competition, although Boston College does well in both revenue sports, while Virginia Tech is strong only in football. Boston College offers a television presence in one of the 10 biggest metropolitan areas in America. Since this is about money, that fact ought to count for more in this equation than the Hokies do.
The vote by the ACC presidents answered the big question: is the game on? You bet. But the game is just beginning, and the outcome hinges on the answers of a lot more questions. What does Miami want? Can the Big East provide it? Is Virginia flexible enough to take Boston College? Will the ACC find the $27 million it needs to pay out the same amount to 12 members as it does now to nine?
As with any game, we wait and watch.
Ivan Maisel is a senior writer at ESPN.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.