Monday, June 21, 1999

Miami to the ACC? A Case of Hit and Run

In a Friday update of his on-line exclusive column "Notebook Plus," Doug Doughty wrote an article called Possible expansion may take ACC to 12, and in it, he dropped this bombshell:

I have heard independently from two semi-reliable sources that Miami will be introduced as a 10th ACC member on July 18.

This article by Doughty follows another article that discussed the topic (ACC rumors blow way of Hurricanes, June 17) recently in the Roanoke Times, and sounded similarly discouraging for the Big East:

"I do know the Big East has asked for a recommitment, and Miami will say only that it is looking at its options," the (ACC) source said.

As you can imagine, Doug's little nugget about July 18th was the topic of discussion on the message board over the weekend, and the reactions ran the gamut from off-hand dismissal to fierce hand-wringing. It also brings out a large number of reactions in me. Here's what runs through my mind:

Assuming the ACC wanted Miami, would Miami want the ACC?

Unlike many message board posters, I have a lot of respect for the ACC, and I think they're a strong conference. They're not on par with the SEC or the Big 10, of course, but they're more cohesive and more stable than the Big East. You don’t hear constant rumors of other conferences raiding the ACC.

With regards to UM jumping to the ACC, you can argue about this-and-that all you want, but the bottom line is simple: if the dollars add up, Miami could very likely make the jump. A little known fact (doing my best Cliff Claven impersonation here) is that the Miami athletic department runs annual deficits of 3-4 million dollars. They're hurting for money, folks.

Dave Braine once interviewed for the UM athletic director's job, and he said that he knew he didn't want the job the instant he found out that the budget at Miami assumes BCS-bowl money. They assume they're going to make 4-5 million off a BCS bowl, and they put that money in the budget. Hence the 3-4 million dollar per year shortfall, because the Canes haven't been to an Alliance or BCS bowl in years.

If the ACC money is better, the Canes will jump, because they're hemorrhaging cash. Wait, you say, the Big East has the best bowl-sharing revenue in the country. If the Canes go to the BCS from the Big East, they'll get to keep a ton of that money, but in the ACC, they would have to share it equally.

That's true, but there's more to life than BCS money. There's TV contract money and travel costs. If Miami can break even (or lose less money) without going to a BCS bowl in the ACC than they can in the Big East, then they'll jump.

It's that simple. It's got nothing to do with tradition, nothing to do with not wanting to be in the same conference as FSU, nothing to do with having to go through FSU to get to a BCS bowl. None of that matters. None of it. If the money adds up, Miami may leave the Big East and head to the ACC.

If that's the case, then the Big East needs to make the numbers add up for Miami. If they can't, we might lose the Canes.

So what if Miami leaves?

Anyone who knows anything about the Big East and its automatic BCS bid knows that the only reason the Big East has that bid (and some other conferences like Conference USA don't) is Miami. Like it or not, that's a fact. No Miami, no BCS bid.

The Big East Football Conference was built when Miami was a national championship contender, and the Big East was given a BCS slot with the assumption that Miami would fill it most years. Well, they're not filling it, but for the networks and the bowls, the hope is still there that they will. If Miami bolts from the Big East, the BCS bid will follow. Count on it. No one wants to watch Virginia Tech or Syracuse in a BCS game - that fact has been proven from 1995 to the present.

Is this for real? Is Doughty's source correct?

Who knows? I do know one thing: as far as I know, only the Roanoke Times is talking about Miami to the ACC. No one else is. And as good a reporter as I think Doughty is (cat's head and all) I have a hard time believing that if this story is true, that the Roanoke Times would be the one to break it, a mere four weeks before it is supposed to happen.

Look how much ink the Tech-to-the-Big-East story has been getting, and for how long. But Miami to the ACC is only a month away, according to Doughty's source, and no one but the Roanoke Times is talking about it? I have a hard time swallowing that one.

It's also entirely possible that Doughty's sources are just chest-thumping ACC homers, saying, "Yeah, Miami's gonna be in the ACC on July 18th," without knowing what the heck is really going on. Doughty's been led down the wrong path before. The most infamous occurrence came a few years back, when the cat head mounted on Doug's desk meowed to him that Yubrenal Isabelle was going to be a Hokie. We all know how that one turned out.

And if Doughty's sources were really that reliable (even he admits they're "semi-reliable"), don't you think he would print that quote in the newspaper, and not in an on-line exclusive?

On the other hand, Doug is a serious reporter who takes his reputation seriously, and would he risk it like that, even in an on-line exclusive, if he didn't think his sources were at least close to the truth?

I'm sick of all the conference speculation

It's pretty uncool of Doug to say that and then go on vacation for four weeks, but he got the reaction he wanted. The HCMB is melting down, and the speculation has spread to other message boards.

I'm also irritated - highly irritated - that with Tech on the verge of being invited into the Big East for all sports, the discussion has already turned from that joyous event to more speculation that the Big East will be raided by other conferences.

I can see it now: the Hokies will be invited into the Big East some time this week, and the article that reports on it will say something like:

The Hokies enter the Big East at a time when the conference is once again being hounded by rumors that one of its marquee teams, in this case Miami, may move to another league.

The article will then go on for another couple of paragraphs about that, and there you have it: in one of our finest hours, the media will find a reason to turn it into a discussion about the almighty Canes and how the Big East is really just a paper conference that is ready to shrivel up and die at the whim of the ACC or the Big Ten.

Not that I won't have my own less-than-rosy comments about the Big East if and when the invitation comes. Anyone who knows as much as we do about the conference knows that it has a bit of work to do to stabilize itself and continue to move forward.

Should I even talk about this rumor?

In some respects, simply discussing the topic legitimizes it, so I hesitate to give it three pages of ink (or electrons, as the case may be) when Doughty mentions off-handedly what two "semi-reliable sources" have said. But the topic is already out there in the open, so I thought I would comment on it.

Now that Doug Doughty, a "real" reporter, has addressed the issue, look for other papers to pick it up and start digging for facts. One Hokie on the message board has already emailed Doughty's column to a Miami Herald reporter, so expect this story to escalate in Florida and in ACC country. I think we'll know for sure pretty soon if there's any fire associated with this smoke.


Lane Stadium T-shirts Will Ship Today

Proving that HokieCentral does indeed ship product, the long-awaited Lane Stadium "The Rock" T-shirts will ship today.  Those of you who ordered the shirts should have received an email from me with more details, including how to properly care for the shirts.

I had promised to put the shirts up for sale one more time this coming fall, but that may or may not happen.  If you really want one of the shirts but missed the first opportunity to order one, then drop me an email and let me know, and if I get enough emails, I will put them up for sale one more time.

Otherwise, I am killing the Hokie Stuff page and will no longer offer products on it.  As I detailed to the members in a recent Members Only HokieCentral Update, the Hokie Stuff page has been a logistical and financial nightmare, and it has taken valuable time away from the other, more important parts of the site.  So kiss it goodbye.

Of course, this brings up the issue of the long-delayed Women's Sweet 16 T-shirts, which were the Hokie Stuff page's uh ... crowning achievement in embarrassment and mishandled product merchandising.

It's a long story, folks, but the design we submitted for approval has been parked in the NCAA's office for over three months now, and nothing is happening on it despite us constantly badgering them, so my supplier and I are giving up and pronouncing the shirt dead.

I apologize for this hideous piece of mismanagement, and I also apologize that I can't really offer you anything as compensation for the order you placed that never got filled.  To offer some sort of discount on a future purchase or something like that would be a logistical nightmare for me to issue and track, so I simply can't do it (not to mention that it's hard to give you a discount on something when I'm not going to sell things on the Hokie Stuff page anymore).  Instead, I can only ask your forgiveness as I fall on my sword.

The good news is, I did not charge anyone's credit card or cash anyone's checks for this item, so there are no refunds to be issued.  For those of you who ordered the shirts, I will send you a detailed email soon explaining just what happened.

There's a possibility that I might - might - offer one more item on the Hokie Stuff page.  It was originally going to be June's product of the month, which I never introduced, but it does have licensing approval and is ready to manufacture, so I may go forward with it as the Hokie Stuff page's last hurrah.   Other than that possibility, I assure you, the Hokie Stuff page is dead, dead, dead.

Please don't get confused and take this to mean that I will no longer offer memberships and the associated merchandise.  Don't worry, because HokieCentral memberships are alive and well (and I thank everyone who responded to my little sales pitch the other day - the business was appreciated greatly, since June is by far my slowest time of year).

And don't get all confused like SWFLHOO did over on the message board, and take this to mean that I'm quitting HokieCentral.   I assure you, that too is alive and well.


TSL News and Notes Archives

TSL Home