This story may slide under some radars today, but it does appear that the ACC is closed for any more Big Ten realignment business. If, indeed, the Big Ten had any intention of taking more teams from the league.
That’s because ACC Presidents reportedly agreed to a grants-of-TV-rights deal through the life of the league’s ESPN contract, which runs through 2026-2027. That means a school that leaves the ACC from now until then still cedes its TV rights to the league’s deal. There’s no incentive for any league to raid the ACC — the Big Ten had reportedly been zeroing in on Virginia and North Carolina — if it can’t get the TV inventory and the resulting money.
That’s good for the ACC — which sits at 14 regular members and 15 when Notre Dame is tossed in the mix for every sport but football — and good for ESPN, which has sewn up just about every league but the Big Ten, which renegotiates soon and will have quite a few suitors.
The ACC, Big 12, Pac 12 and Big Ten now have such agreements. The SEC does not. The Big Ten could go hunting there, but what SEC teams would want defect?
Honestly? The Big Ten could make Missouri and Kentucky very reasonable pitches. Setting aside UK basketball — which can succeed anywhere — neither one of those schools are ever going to win a darn thing in the SEC. The Big Ten money would be comparable. The football competition would be more equitable. What’s Kentucky’s incentive for staying in the SEC? What? Money? The Big Ten will offer more. Exposure? It’ll be the same. Getting whipped in football? Is getting whipped in football a good thing? Ask the Indianapolis Colts if they’d like to move back to the AFC East and battle New England every year.
Kentucky basketball is portable to Quito, Ecuador. Doesn’t matter where you take it. And Mizzou and UK achieve the Big Ten’s goal of moving into more southern markets.
Alas, the Big Ten wants AAU schools, and Kentucky isn’t one. Plus, if the league takes on the SEC and loses, it creates a potentially far-reaching impact.
If the Big Ten still desired to move to 16, it could look at what’s left of the Big East (not much) or try to woo BYU, one of the few schools for which travel costs would not be a problem. But it seems unlikely.
Perhaps it’s over, realignment. Perhaps.