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Monday, October 13, 2003

BC Joins the ACC

Boston College has agreed to join the Atlantic Coast Conference in a move that will prove a bit disruptive to the rituals of the BC sports fan. I will miss the basketball rivalries the most, especially the UConn games every year and the Big East Tournament each March in Madison Square Garden. It will be hard to get as excited for games against Clemson and Georgia Tech as it has been to get pumped for contests with other schools from the northeast.

Financially and strategically the decision makes sense--that's why BC's administrators decided so quickly. The ACC will be a better league now that it has pillaged the top football schools from the Big East. Having two divisions in a 12-team league with a football championship game will produce more revenue. This has to be counterbalanced with the fact that BC would have been a conference championship contender in football in a weakened Big East while it will struggle to be in the middle of the pack in an ACC that includes Miami, Florida State and Virginia Tech. Even so BC will probably remain in the Big East until 2006, meaning that the 2004 and 2005 seasons will be chances for BC to get into a BCS bowl game without having to beat out Miami and Virginia Tech, who join the ACC in 2004. After 2006, the Big East may no longer be a BCS player anyway (it's hard to predict the future with the rumors of Big East expansion to include various schools flying about and the BCS having its own future in question after its current contracts expire).

The bottom line is that BC is sacrificing some of the regional traditions and opportunities for winning more conference games in order to join a better conference and improve the economics of its Athletic Department. The change puts Boston College on the track toward improving the national reputation of its sports program--hardly the result envisioned in a Globe column a few months ago predicting that in ten years BC would resemble Holy Cross. There are perks that come along with this for BC fans (more national TV, better athletes recruited, superior amenities, more games with high-stakes implications), which in time will prove enough for most people to offset the loss of some favorite rivalries.