The landscape of college football is undergoing a significant transformation as conferences look to strengthen their ranks and secure their future. The Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) recently made a major decision to expand its membership, voting to add three schools to the mix: Stanford, California, and SMU. This move marks a significant step in the ongoing realignment of college football conferences and has far-reaching implications for the sport.
The ACC’s Expansion
Over the past month, the ACC has been engaged in extensive discussions and debates regarding the addition of new teams to the conference. The goal was to bolster the ACC’s ranks and further solidify its position as one of the premier college football conferences in the country. After careful consideration, the ACC presidents have officially approved the expansion, welcoming Stanford, California, and SMU into the fold.
This decision comes after a period of intense speculation and uncertainty. While there was considerable interest in expanding the conference, some members of the ACC expressed reservations, most notably the University of North Carolina (UNC). Despite the opposition, the ACC ultimately moved forward with its expansion plans, solidifying its standing as a forward-thinking conference willing to adapt to the changing landscape of college football.
The Implications for the ACC and College Football
With the addition of Stanford, California, and SMU, the ACC’s membership will now comprise 18 teams, 17 of which will participate in football full-time. With football being the driving force behind conference realignment, it is a bit surprising to see the ACC add the schools that they did. None of which are known for having a top level football program. In fairness, not many schools that remain available for realignment have that, so in a way the ACC was able to add the best of the remaining options.
Rise of the ACC
The ACC has long been recognized as a powerhouse conference, boasting some of the most storied programs in college football history. With the addition of Stanford, California, and SMU, the ACC further solidifies its position as a formidable force in the sport. These three institutions bring a rich tradition of excellence and academic prowess, elevating the overall profile of the conference.
Pac-12 is Dead
While the ACC celebrates its expansion, the Pac-12 finds itself on the opposite end of the spectrum. The departure of Stanford and California leaves the Pac-12 with just two remaining programs, Washington State and Oregon State. At this point, the Pac-12 is officially dead and no longer a power 5 conference. Sure, they may end up gathering a collection of teams to continue the conference beyond this year, but they will no longer feature championship level play.
The addition of Stanford, California, and SMU to the ACC brings with it financial implications for all parties involved. SMU, in particular, has made a significant sacrifice by forgoing television revenue for seven years. This decision allows SMU to secure a seat in a major conference while relying on the support of its wealthy boosters until revenue streams are established. Additionally, the revenue generated from this expansion will be shared among ACC members, contributing to the financial stability and growth of the conference as a whole.
While it is true that the ACC added 3 new schools, none of the new additions appear to be legitimate threats to compete for a conference title anytime soon. The ACC is incredibly top-heavy from a football perspective, and these new programs will do nothing to change that fact.
Future of College Football Realignment
The ACC’s decision to expand with Stanford, California, and SMU is just the latest development in the ever-evolving landscape of college football realignment. As conferences seek to secure their futures and maximize their revenue potential, realignment has become a recurring theme across the college football landscape. The ACC’s move highlights the ongoing shifts in conference affiliations and sets the stage for potential future realignments.