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Saturday, September 17, 2011
Coach K: Conference change 'evolution'

By Andy Katz
ESPN.com

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said Saturday night grabbing Syracuse and Pittsburgh away from the Big East would be a major coup.

"It's actually pretty exciting," Krzyzewski said. "I think it's great for our conference football-wise, even better basketball-wise. Wherever this is going to end up, four big-time conferences or five, whatever it is, you want to be perceived as No. 1 in football and basketball.

"The last few years the ACC has lost some of that but over the last 25 years if you had to pick the best conference in basketball it is the ACC. Lately, it hasn't been that. It's been a really good conference. But to me this is in some ways a coup for basketball."

Krzyzewski The NBA had the ABA. The NFL had the AFL. There was once no BCS. The NIT was once better than the NCAA (tournament). When it happens while you're doing it, it seems like it shouldn't happen, but it is.

-- Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski
on conference realignment

Florida State president Eric Barron confirmed to The Associated Press on Saturday before the Seminoles played No. 1 Oklahoma that Syracuse and Pittsburgh have applied to join the ACC.

Hours after Barron spoke, the ACC announced it will have a teleconference Sunday morning at 9:30 a.m. ET.

If the two schools are to join the ACC, Krzyzewski doesn't want the conference to stop at 14 teams. He said he'd like to see 16 teams, taking two more schools that have comparable rich basketball traditions and are in the Eastern time zone. An ACC official told USA Today that Connecticut and Rutgers would be the candidates.

"I'm proud of the leadership of our conference to be ahead of things," Krzyzewski said. "We're in a period of change. Whether everyone agrees with it or doesn't agree with it -- change is happening. It's not a revolution, it's evolution. These things are happening.

"The NBA had the ABA. The NFL had the AFL. There was once no BCS. The NIT was once better than the NCAA (tournament). When it happens while you're doing it, it seems like it shouldn't happen, but it is. I think the leadership in our conference is doing a great job of getting ahead. It's good thinking, especially if everything goes down with these two schools that have great athletic programs. They are unbelievable fits for our conference."

Krzyzewski, the longest-serving coach in basketball or football in the ACC, said the ACC should move to two divisions in basketball if Syracuse and Pitt are added while also going to 18 games instead of the current 16-game model.

"It's about the time zone," Krzyzewski said. "If we're going to do this at 14, I would love to keep all the members we now have. I'm not sure that will happen. But we're being proactive and that's good. We're giving the 12 we have the knowledge that we've been proactive and the leader in this. It will become tougher to leave. Our conference is getting stronger. It's easy to leave a conference when it's weaker."

Krzyzewski said he would like to see the ACC go to 16 for an easy eight-team divisional split in basketball and football with champions of two divisions.

"We can keep the round robin in each division and keep some tradition," Krzyzewski said. "I wouldn't want to see one line of 14 or 16 teams. One of the weaknesses of the current Big East is that you never know who plays one another. The SEC hasn't been able to define their two divisions in basketball as well as they have in football."

The SEC will move to one line of 12 teams this season in basketball for the first time but keep an East-West scheduling format that mirrors the football divisions. Adding a 13th member in 2012, if Texas A&M officially joins the conference, probably won't change the basketball format of having one line from one to 13.

"We can be innovative with the caliber of teams we'll have in two divisions," Krzyzewski said. "We can come up with a new model. I think it would be really exciting and great for our branding. These moves will give our conference great stature."

Pitt has been a traditional Big East men's basketball power since coach Jamie Dixon arrived, while Syracuse has been a Big East title contender since it joined the Big East at the conference's inception under coach Jim Boeheim.

"Things are going to happen so you might as well be in control as much as possible," Krzyzewski said.

Out of its 16 teams, the Big East had a record 11 schools make the men's NCAA tournament last March. Meanwhile, the ACC had four of its 12 make the tournament. Pitt and Syracuse would immediately shoot to the top of the ACC with North Carolina and Duke.

"We're adding two outstanding basketball programs," Krzyzewski said. "Two really outstanding basketball programs."

Andy Katz is a senior college basketball writer for ESPN.com.