Sep 132010

Perennially on the upswing, the Atlantic Coast Conference had a banner weekend with a number of its marquee programs in action against some quality competition.

The University of Miami withstood Ohio State’s best shot and delivered a resounding 36-24 defeat to the Hurricanes at the Horseshoe in Columbus, Ohio. The score would have been closer if OSU had bothered to be less dominant.

Florida State did its level best to thrust Oklahoma’s Landry Jones into the Heisman conversation as the sophomore signal-caller went 30-for-40 for 380 yards and 4 touchdowns in leading the Sooners to a 47-17 victory that had to have former head coach Bobby Bowden rolling in his grave. Wait, Bobby Bowden isn’t dead? Very well then. Note to self: keeellll Bobby Bowden.

Defending ACC champion Virginia Tech burnished its non-conference credentials, following up last weekend’s close loss to Boise State by failing to come back to beat D1-AA school James Madison. This is the second time in as many years that a D1-AA school has defeated an ACC school from the Old Dominion State.

But perhaps the greatest signal of the ACC’s ascendancy was Virginia’s penalty-filled 17-14 loss to USC. The Trojans were so intimidated by the Cavaliers that they followed last week’s 11 penalties by committing 13 penalties for 240 yards. When asked how the Men of Troy could have played so badly and still won, UVA coach Mike London replied, “Don’t go ripping on Lane Kiffin! He’s just a kid! Come to me! I’m a man! I’m 49!!”

ACC proponents celebrated the conference’s gumption in scheduling such tough opponents, also pointing to Clemson’s epic clash with the Blue Hose of Presbyterian College and Maryland’s beatdown of Morgan State. ACC officials also decried the soft non-conference schedules of non-AQ schools, citing that Boise State’s marquee BCS win has been tainted because the Broncos’ opponent has since lost to a D1-AA school. When pointed to the fact that said opponent was from the ACC, the officials changed the subject to Midnight Madness.

Jun 072010

In all this expansion-palooza talk, I have to ask myself why PA legislators seem so silent? And why were they silent years ago when PSU was still an independent searching for a home? It’s possible (though I think improbable) that Pitt could get left out in the cold in expansion talks… no Big Ten or ACC or even Big East, if the conference implodes. That would leave the state’s second largest university system without a tangible sports home. That our politicans would remain silent when we all know how much money and recognition sports brings is unfortunate… to put it mildly.

Everywhere I read, other state legislatures are pulling up stakes in expansion-palooza. We all remember how UVA was pressured into supporting Va Tech’s ACC candidacy at the expense of Syracuse back in 2003. It’s widely known that the upwards of four of the Big XII’s Texas schools are joined at the hip via politics. OU probably can’t make a move without Okie State. And KU is also likely tied to K-State.

But not Pitt to PSU or PSU to Pitt? Is there any collective loyalty in PA college sports? We all know that years ago, when both schools were independents, when it was viable for a school to be independent, Joe Paterno wanted to form an all-sports eastern conference. It would likely have consisted of Pitt, PSU, WVU, BC, Rutgers, Syracuse, UVA, VT, UMD and Temple. Paterno’s first domino would have been Pitt, whose partnership would have given enough steam to the idea to lure the rest. Pitt spurned PSU and joined the fledgling Big East conference, which then only had basketball. At one point PSU was considered for inclusion into the Big East, right around the time that the conference was looking into adding football to its docket.  To my utter disbelief now years afterward, the conference commissioners rejected PSU because of its weak basketball program. PSU later joined the Big Ten.

Apparently PA legislators didn’t get involved in assuring PSU would join the Big East. It wasn’t a given in the late 1980’s that PSU would be admitted into the Big Ten so assuring that PSU would have a sports home should have been an important issue to them. Perhaps the politicians were working behind the scenes to get PSU into the Big Ten but if that was the case, I’m sure I would have read about it by now.

Fast forward to today and in all the talk of the Big East getting fleeced and possibly disbanding, I’ve heard no rumblings from the folks in Harrisburg that Pitt ‘should’ be included in the Big Ten’s expansion plans. Now I’m not saying that all this political maneuvering in other states is a good thing. But one would think that the fate of the second largest university in the state should at least pique their curiosity.