By Justin Renck:
FINALLY!!! It is a celebration and also a sigh of relief! The sigh of relief is because of what we are getting out of, and the celebration is because of what we are getting into!
Now I am not going to get into too many facts like TV ratings, conference votes, and all of that stuff. Just going to give my opinion on the situation.
Today confirms what I have been hearing for about a week now, that UofL has joined the ACC! There were times in the last year or so when I started to doubt that I would ever type that we were joining another conference. Every other team seemed to get the call, and we kept getting passed over. I never could wrap my mind around the fact that TV was driving this whole thing. I just kept telling myself that we are good in EVERY sport! Why isn’t that attractive enough? How could a conference NOT want a school that is good in every sport, in a big city, and with the best facilities? I just didn’t get it. Well, better late than never right???
For the longest time, I was convinced it was the Big 12 for us. After hearing certain things and some scenarios playing out, I was sure that was where we were headed. When some ACC talk would surface, I would try to shoot it down in my head because I had already pictured Texas and Oklahoma coming into Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium. I was very excited about our future in the Big 12.
After thinking about it, however, I convinced myself recently that the ACC made more sense for us. Yes, geographically it fits better, but of course that doesn’t seem to matter in all of this (San Diego State in the Big East?). While I will admit that I don’t know much about the ACC olympic sports yet, I will focus on Men’s Basketball and Football.
When thinking about basketball, I pictured a conference with Louisville, Duke, North Carolina, N.C. State, now Syracuse and Pittsburgh, and other traditionally decent teams like Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech. All you can say to that is WOW! And who knows, maybe a couple of old friends from the Big East may join us eventually too, huh? The Big 12 basketball would have been a step down from our traditional Big East (not a huge step down, but a step). But this ACC will be just as good at least, possibly better in some years.
The football portion of it was the one where I was very set on the Big 12. But when really thinking about it, the ACC makes more sense for us. We already recruit the area, especially Florida. Our coaches are getting players to come to Louisville, KY, where there are more colder weather games here than in Florida for sure, and play in the Big East against teams like UConn and Temple. Now you are telling me they can go recruit and tell kids “Yes we play Miami and Florida State this year. All of your friends and family can see you play.” What a difference that could make!
And I have all the confidence in the world in our team and staff, but we could also be swallowed up in that Big 12. Remember how great Geno Smith and West Virginia started out? They were 5-0, talking National Title and Geno had practically already won the Heisman. Yea, they are 6-5 and in 7th place in the conference! So yes, their home fans have seen games against Kansas State, TCU, and Oklahoma, but is it worth it to see your team get beat? Again, I am not saying we would go in and get beat, but we can definitely compete right away in the ACC. I would rather go 9-3 or 10-2 (or better) and compete every year in the ACC than go to the Big 12 and, in a down year, be in the middle or lower portion of the conference and have our fans lose faith (I know our fans, trust me).
All in all, I am of course very excited about this move, and so glad that we did not get left out in the cold in all of this conference madness. As an athletic program, we deserve it. Tom Jurich and everyone that works with him deserve it. The Big East was great to us. It got us to the Orange Bowl. It also gave us some of the best basketball we could ever see. It was a step up from Conference USA, but time (and $$$) had caught up to it. We had to get out, and we have taken another step up. Hopefully, this one is stable, and we can call this home for many years to come. It would be nice to get some rivalries that stick around!
Just think about Duke and UNC coming into the Yum!, or think about the U and Florida State coming back to PJCS. Yes, get excited folks. IT FINALLY HAPPENED!!! Let’s celebrate! And all have a collective sigh of relief!