There are football schools (Alabama) and basketball schools (Kentucky). There are also football conferences (SEC) and basketball conferences (Big East?). Ask Maryland football coach Randy Edsall for his take on the new conference home, the Big Ten, and he will know just how to respond to get the support of the fans.
“As a football coach, I feel better,” Edsall said, as captured by Pressbox Baltimore. “I’m going to a football conference. I’m not in a basketball conference anymore.”
Edsall won approval points from Terps fans with that comment, although most would consider Maryland a basketball school, so the irony of the statement is worth noting. Most would probably agree the ACC is a basketball conference before it is a football conference. Florida State and Clemson did the ACC proud in football last season with a BCS championship and Orange Bowl victory, but the conference was built on its basketball foundation and was forced to make moves to attempt to strengthen the football product through expansion. More recent additions to the conference have actually padded the depth on the hard court more than what immediate impact it has on he football field. Syracuse and Pittsburgh have been more successful in football in recent years, and Louisville has a longer history of basketball success compared to the recent growth of the football program.
But is the Big Ten a football conference more than it is a basketball conference? To put it bluntly, yes. But the data is somewhat stacked against Edsall’s comments. The Big Ten has struggled to hold onto its position as the top conference on the football field over the last few years. Meanwhile, the Big Ten has sent four times as many teams to basketball’s Final Four than the ACC.
Edsall’s comments should be subject to much scrutiny though. He is simply playing to his crowd, one that he needs to win over this season. Nobody would blame Edsall for his remarks, and he is actually right in what he si saying. The Big Ten will continue to be a football conference before it is a basketball conference, although it may be a deeper basketball conference than it is in football. The ACC will continue to be top-heavy in football, but much deeper in basketball.
Helmet sticker to Sports Illustrated.