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Thursday, December 6, 2012
ACC solidarity no match for B1G money

By Adam Rittenberg

The ACC presidents say they're sticking together. Stop laughing, guys. They're serious.

OK, I'm laughing, too. Can't help it.

Here's the statement the ACC presidents released today:
"We, the undersigned presidents of the Atlantic Coast Conference, wish to express our commitment to preserve and protect the future of our outstanding league. We want to be clear that the speculation about ACC schools in negotiations or considering alternatives to the ACC are totally false. The presidents of the ACC are united in our commitment to a strong and enduring conference. The ACC has long been a leader in intercollegiate athletics, both academically and athletically, and the constitution of our existing and future member schools will maintain the ACC's position as one of the nation's premier conferences."

Well, isn't that nice, the illusion of solidarity. I don't buy it, you don't buy it, and even the ACC presidents, if injected with truth serum, don't buy one word of this. Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany wouldn't buy it, either, if he wasn't so busy counting his money.

It would be nice if the statement were true, but what we've seen in the past two and a half years invalidates every word. Remember when the Big East put out a similar statement in September 2011?

The realignment rage is far from over, and the chances of the ACC preventing another raid from a richer league like the Big Ten are slim to none.

Is the Big Ten expanding now? No. Were the rumors last week about talks with Georgia Tech substantiated? Not according to league officials I spoke to in Indianapolis. Is the Big Ten in a mad dash to become the first league to 16? No. In fact, the Big Ten has been reactive more than proactive.

But the Big Ten eventually will become a 16-team league, and odds are the additional schools will come from the ACC. If you want to speculate about the Big Ten's next expansion targets, look at big markets with good recruits and lots of Big Ten alumni.

Georgia Tech is a strong candidate because of its location, and schools like Virginia and maybe even North Carolina -- the white whale for the Big Ten, in my view -- could be in play. And while the ACC claims it's sticking together, there's simply too much money involved for individual members to say no.

NC State athletic director Debbie Yow, who previously held the same post at Maryland, this week expressed displeasure at Maryland's recent departure for the Big Ten.

"Maryland will be on a plane to play Wisconsin in the middle of the winter," Yow said. "Hope that money is really, really good."

Of all people, Yow should know why Maryland needs the Big Ten's money so badly. And yes, the money is really good and will only get better after the Big Ten finalizes its mammoth TV deal in a few years.

These types of statements insult fans' intelligence. What is that line about anything you say can and will be used against you? Brace yourselves, ACC.