And we have our first major “upset” in the latest in the latest game of conference musical chairs, aside from the whole Tulane-to-the-Big East thing of course.
When Maryland announced a week and a half ago that they would be moving from the ACC to the Big Ten in 2014, it was widely assumed that UConn was far and away the front-runner to replace the Terps, with Louisville holding the slimmest of hopes according to most observers and Cincinnati only recently — at least publicly — throwing their hat into the ACC ring.
In the end, however, it’s the Cardinals who will be afforded the opportunity to move on from a wobbly Big East conference.
Following a seven a.m. ET meeting of league presidents and chancellors, the ACC voted Wednesday morning to add Louisville as the conference’s 14th member. As would be expected, the addition of the UofL came by a unanimous vote of the presidents and on the first ballot.
The when of Louisville’s move is still to be determined. Technically, Big East bylaws would prohibit a move until 2015, although West Virginia (Big 12), Pittsburgh (ACC) and Syracuse (ACC) all left or will leave earlier than that time frame by paying an exit fee above the $10 million called for by the conference.
Louisville has gradually crawled its way up the conference ladder, spending nine seasons (1996-2004) in Conference USA before moving to the Big East in 2005. Thanks to a strong financial commitment to improving its facilities in all sports in general and football specifically, however, the Cardinals are finally one of the “in schools” in a Big Five conference, albeit the least stable of that group.
With Louisville likely joining in 2014 at the latest, and Pittsburgh and Syracuse beginning play in 2013, nearly half of the ACC football-wise will consist of former Big East members: the three aforementioned, plus Miami, Boston College and Virginia Tech. As for in which division Louisville might play, that has yet to be determined. Maryland was a member of the Atlantic, although it may make more sense for the UofL to be dropped into the Coastal even as they’re nowhere near a coast.
By 2015, and for football purposes, the Big East will consist of current members Cincinnati, UConn, Temple and South Florida; Boise State, Houston, Memphis, San Diego State, SMU and UCF (all in 2013); East Carolina and Tulane (2014); and Navy (2015). The Big East has seen seven members announce their intentions to depart the past year.