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Irksome Expansion
by Nathaniel Bishton, 5/30/03

Being a senior in high school involved with athletics, with my best friend on his way to play soccer at UNC and another on his way to the Clemson baseball program, much talk has been swirling about ACC expansion on campus. Being a Hokie for life, a bombardment of questions has floated my way. The answers, I have none.

I retort to most inquiries with the natural vague answers: "Nothingís final yet.", or "Tech will be fine, we didnít build it all to get left behind." Inside, though, anger is boiling. Itís difficult for me to loathe Miami, Syracuse, and Boston College. Had Tech been extended the invitation, Tech would most likely have accepted. It wasnít meant to be for the Hokies, as Virginia Techís home will never be in the ACC. I do, though, have a bitter taste in my mouth for the ACC.

So it is not Tech. But why not Tech. It has been made clear that Miami wanted to bring along Syracuse and Boston College if they were going to be making a conference move. But the relationship between the ACC and Miami over the course of the last couple of months has been one of a dual-courtship. It seems the ACC wants Miami, and Miami wants the ACC. Does the ACC not like the draw of fans in stadiums and on couches that Virginia Tech brings? Or is it the stellar football program that Virginia Tech has built. The ACC has much power in this ordeal. More so than they entail through the media, when talks that Miami only wanted to go with Syracuse and Boston College arose. The ACC wants nothing to do with the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. Oh, well. Virginia Tech will live on.

Miami has been offered a guaranteed $45 million over 5 years to stay in the Big East. What Mike Tranghese and the other Big East power men do not understand is that this is not about money. Miami does not want to be stuck in the past. Much to the dismay of Mike Tranghese (and Jim Weaver), 12-team power conferences are the wave of the future. That is where college football is going. Miami is quite possibly the top program in all of college football. They do not want to be stuck in a nine-team conference, stuck in the present with no future. They need, as an athletic department and university, to be moving forward and preparing for what college football is bound to become. They are in the red when it comes to dollars.

Yes, giving them a guaranteed nine million dollars a year for the next five will help. But what about after those five? The future is unknown in all scenarios regarding expansion, but moving to a conference that will have 12 teams, as well as increased income, will give Miami a better foundation. Super conferences will soon dominate the landscape of college football, and Miami, the top program, cannot be left out of one.

Whisperings of SEC expansion have grown louder in the past weeks, and now there is talk of expanding that conference to 16 teams. The name Virginia Tech has been thrown into those talks, and it seems that there is a distinct possibility that the Hokies may be included if the SEC should expand. Notre Dame has become a popular name in expansion talks as well, though I donít believe Notre Dame has any incentive in moving. Unless that incentive, of course, is that they will be excluded from the BCS if they do not join a conference.

Though gloom has set in on many Hokie fans, I still feel optimistic. Call me naÔve. But Virginia Tech has become a powerhouse in football over the last decade. Many conferences would jump at the opportunity to have such a program. Virginia Tech will find a home, a safe home, a competitive home. There is no doubt in my mind.

Whether it be the SEC, a new conference, or an improved Big East, a see a bright future for Virginia Tech, as well as Pittsburgh and West Virginia. I wish success to Miami, Syracuse, and Boston College, in whatever decision they make for their futures. Virginia Tech will undoubtedly succeed.


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