Fourth and Long

Published 4:05 pm Wednesday, September 21, 2011

“Don’t call it a comeback…I’ve been here for years” – LL Cool J

John Swafford is the Atlantic Coast Conference Commissioner and will for the remainder of this column be referred to as “The Man.”

As I hope you have heard by now, the ACC has announced the eventual inclusion of two more members to the conference. Since the announcement was made there have been several questions, assumptions and observations that I have been unable to shake. These are just a few.

I can’t help but chortle when I think about every major sports news source in the country discussing and contemplating the expansion and or implosion of such conferences as the Big 12, SEC, PAC-12 and Big Ten. All the while “The Man” was pulling strings and making the first step towards this eventual “super conference” I keep hearing about.

I seriously doubt it is coincidence that while Syracuse and Pitt both have fine football traditions they happen to have two of the three best men’s basketball programs the Big East has to offer.

The addition of both Syracuse and Pitt improves football, however, with expansion the ACC has now solidified its position as the nation’s toughest basketball conference.

The addition of two teams brings the ACC’s total to 14 and begs the question, who is next? Rumors and speculation have brought up several possibilities. There are a few really intriguing options.

The most popular one appears to be Texas, however the addition of Texas, while highly profitable makes no sense geographically whatsoever. Texas is a long way from Syracuse and Miami, heck Austin is a long way from other parts of Texas.

Notre Dame is the first institution that came to mind for me and assuming ABC (owner of ESPN) and NBC (owner of Notre Dame football on television) could work out some sort of agreement I can’t help but see this one as a win/win. High academic standards, outstanding tradition and a faithful fan base are just a few of the reasons to consider Notre Dame.

UCONN would make sense. They would bring with them a great basketball tradition for both men and women. If the goal is to create a basketball “super conference” then the Huskies are the easy choice.

I have heard several people mention ECU and while geographically it makes sense the conference gains nothing by including them. The Pirates certainly have some of the nation’s most passionate fans, but they bring with them no new media market, national credibility or legacy. Great fans and a short bus ride aren’t enough chips to bring to the table.

I for one would like to see “The Man” go after Florida and Notre Dame. If anybody can do it…”The Man” can.

David Friedman is a long-time contributor to Roanoke-Chowan Publishing. A Bertie High School graduate, he and his wife currently reside in Wilmington. David can be reached via e-mail at