Sometimes in my head there are so many thoughts, opinions and ideas spinning around, that if you peeked into it you might start fitting me for a straight jacket. I really need to start writing some of them down before I forget. I want to tell you it’s organized chaos up there but it’s more scattered than some Waffle House hash browns. One of my most recent thoughts was how I needed to write a Thanksgiving piece about how thankful I am that Louisville is a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference but I didn’t want to prematurely bring the holiday upon us. We haven’t even made it to Halloween, so I was just going to write these thoughts down and revisit them in a month from now.
But then something happened that put my brain in overdrive. The Big 12 conference announced that they would not expand and continue to operate at ten teams. Upon hearing this announcement, it was like a dam had been blown open and a river of thoughts just poured out of my head. I tried to hold this post off until closer to Thanksgiving but in this crazy mixed up world where the Big 12 has ten teams, the Big 10 has fourteen teams and every department store is selling Christmas decoration in early October, why not go ahead with it.
I am thankful that Louisville is in the ACC and not the Big 12. In October of 2011, West Virginia accepted an invitation to join the Big 12. An invitation that athletic director Tom Jurich and the University of Louisville so desperately coveted. During the courting process, we all felt like this was the last chance for Louisville to be in a power five conference or we would be left out in the cold. The cold concrete seats of the Liberty Bowl would be the pinnacle of a successful football season.The future of our athletic programs was uncertain and the wait to hear if we would get the invite had all of us combing social media all day, everyday, just waiting to hear something. It was a time of anticipation that we hoped would end in celebration.
This feeling of anticipation and uncertainty is exactly what Connecticut and Cincinnati were going through last week. Cincinnati was so certain that they were going to be invited that their president allegedly ordered this from a printer.
But the Big 12, who I believe is controlled by Texas and Oklahoma, decided not to expand at this time. Leaving Uconn, Cincy and other perspective schools on the outside looking in. Just like Louisville in 2011, these schools sit outside of the power five not knowing if they will ever get another chance. I honestly was upset when we did not get the invite despite my dislike of the Big 12 because I knew how important it was to be included in a power five conference.
As it turns out, I am so very thankful that we did not get that invitation to the Big 12. Luckily we ended up in the absolute perfect spot. Being in the ACC is a dream come true. Think about trying to go to an away game if we were in the Big 12. Now think about attending an away game in the ACC. The Big 12 would have been a geographic nightmare for us as fans not to mention all the travel time for the student athletes. The competition in the ACC is national championship caliber in every sport. The leaders of the conference are respected and revered as the best in all of college athletics. I could go on and on but you get the point. The ACC is amazing.
While I feel for the schools that though they would be invited to the Big 12, not one ounce of me is sad for Uconn or Cincy. I have never been a fan of either school through all the conference changes we have endured together. Cincy, and their fans, rank just behind Kentucky on my list of dislike. Uconn will forever be a team I wish ill upon because I will never forgive them for the “unfair catch” of 2007. The only thing Uconn has ever done for us is beat UK in the 2014 basketball national championship game after we beat them THREE times during the season.
I am so very thankful that everything worked out as it has. Joining the ACC gave us our forever home and put us in position to be a national contender in every sport. Every Louisville fan is grateful to be an ACC member and we are all looking forward to the many years together. The only thing the ACC needs to do is to get together with The Bucket Hat King and decide on our new third down music.
As Always, GO CARDS!