ACC Replaces Maryland With Louisville, Is Running Out Of Other Options

Mark Konezny-US PRESSWIRE

The Cardinals finally got their ticket out of the Big East.

In a vote early this morning, the ACC chose Louisville to replace the departing Maryland to keep its membership at 14.

The Cardinals' program is a good one, with a top 25 football team and elite basketball. It should fit right in its new league in the revenue sports. And speaking of revenue, UL's basketball program is the 16th most profitable among all sports. Only big time football programs are ahead of it. Furthermore, the athletic program has some big time corporate partners in Yum! Brands and Papa John's.

Louisville was the most attractive program out there for the ACC to go after. SI's Pete Thamel is even reporting that the conference moved quickly because it was afraid of the Big 12 adding the Cardinals before it had the chance to. The only potential snag in the deal was reportedly the low academic profile of the university, but the strength of its athletics overcame that hurdle.

I feel like this move is somewhat of an inflection point for conference realignment. Sure, the ACC has been poaching Big East schools for a decade now, and Louisville had worked its way into position to deserve a jump to a league like the ACC or Big 12. However, this is the first Big East team that the ACC picked off that was a CUSA school prior to the 2003-04 ACC raid. The only original football member of the Big East left still there is Temple, and that school infamously got kicked out for poor performance before reentering this year.

The options for the ACC to stay afloat as a power conference are dwindling. If the Big 12 raids it for members, as has been rumored to happen at times this year, there aren't many places left to go. UConn and Cincinnati are about it for any kind of prestige factor, as they both have a great basketball program and each does have a BCS bowl under its belt. They can't fully replace a departed FSU and Clemson, but they could keep the league afloat. If more leave than that, however, the ACC really will just be a reconstituted Big East.

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