By Haley O’ Shaughnessy–
The holidays are almost here and the college basketball community has been given the gift of more conference realignment to hear about. Usually, conference deals are regarded as annoying and stressful, making them seem much more like coal than any kind of present.
But in this case of conference realignment, the Cardinals are directly affected with the chance of a change. Since Louisville’s current conference is nothing short of terrifyingly unstable, maybe this could be a gift after all.
Unstable is not an exaggeration, either. The latest blow to the conference’s health was Nov. 20th, when Rutgers announced a move to the Big 10, a conference that has also welcomed the University of Maryland.
Who better to take Maryland’s spot in the ACC than thee, our U of L? Rick Pitino thinks, that there is no better choice. The basketball coach said:
“I haven’t come across a school like this in a long time, that has so much to offer, and so little interest by people… The SEC should be after them; the ACC should be after them; the Big Ten should be after them.”
Despite Pitino’s endorsements, rumors have surfaced about other schools having a better chance to fill the spot in the ACC, like the University of Connecticut. Besides minor factors like barely edging out the Cards in a football game on Saturday, do the Huskies really have that much more to offer? Radio show Louisville Sports Live pointed out that at UConn’s Fiesta Bowl appearance, the school reported a mere 3,500-fan attendance, while over 35,000 Louisville fans attended the Orange Bowl to cheer on their Cards.
While fandom is important, revenue is a different case. We need mo’ money, mo’ stability for both the school and the conference. But Pitino proves that Louisville is the front-runner in this heat of the race, too. He said,
“The amount of money that we generate from basketball and football is incredible… We’re (men’s basketball) sort of maxed out financially. We made 44 million dollars last year, more than the Packers.”
Okay, so money is not an issue, leaving people – mostly crazed Louisville fans desperate to leave the Big East – wondering why the ACC is not throwing offers U of L’s way. Pitino said,
“I don’t know. I can’t figure it out. Look, I can figure it out from a TV market standpoint. But, you have to understand, every TV will be on (Louisville).”
Television markets will play an unfortunately big role in the ACC’s decision. But like Pitino made clear, they will pick either a school that can offer television, or pick a school that will be on television. Pitino also said,
“If I was the ACC, I’d jump at Louisville… If I’m the Big East, I’d do everything humanly possible to keep Louisville. It’s a great situation.”
So, according to him, the final verdict is that this conference drama is a gift, after all. All Louisville can do now is wait, trusting that the university is in a “great situation,” like Pitino said.
Photo: Austin Lassell/The Louisville Cardinal