Miami is in, now the real questions arise

Published: Tuesday, July 1, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, June 30, 2003 at 10:37 p.m.

We finally have the answer that was six weeks in the making. Miami is out. Miami is in.

Out of the Big East so fans in Pittsburgh and Boston can start working on their posters for next year's games. (There are two C's in chicken).

In the ACC, so Duke football coach Carl Franks can go ahead and order Tums by the gross.

We have the answer so now the real questions can be addressed.

Like this one: What now for the BCS?

There are three years remaining on the BCS contract, but before it runs out, Miami and Virginia Tech will have run away from the Big East.

The six major conferences use the BCS to horde much of the college football money, but the Big East cannot be considered a major football conference with six teams. Unless it somehow adds Notre Dame, anything the Big East does will leave it lacking.

But there are no rules here, no qualifications. It is simply a contract that the BCS will have to live up to until the deal runs out.

"We need some legal advice," Big 12 commissioner Kevin Weiberg said recently.

Look for this to happen - the new Big East stays in the BCS, which expands to five bowl games and also brings the Mountain West into the equation.

Here's another: What now for the Big East?

The league has to regroup. There is talk that the Big East wants to go to 10 teams for football and 16 for basketball.

The best bets are Louisville, Central Florida and South Florida. The fourth school is up in the air. Word is the Big East isn't high on Cincinnati. East Carolina, perhaps?

OK, so the ACC has 11 teams. What about a championship game?

The rule says you need 12 to qualify, but rules are made to be changed. Don't be surprised in 2005 if you see both the ACC and Big 10 playing title games with 11 schools.

For one thing, it might put an end to what may be a vicious cycle of conferences raiding each other. The biggest reason this happened was the ACC's desire to get to 12. The SEC and Big 12 won't be happy, but will be outnumbered.

And anything that generates new revenue for college football has to be welcomed. So there is a good chance you will see it happen.

But is the ACC done? Will it still look for a 12th team?

Possibly. There has been talk that Louisville might be that 12th team but it doesn't fit in academically. The four-year graduation rate for the general student population is 10 percent.

There is an outside chance that Notre Dame will consider it. There are still hard feelings in the Big 10 about the Irish turning that conference down. The Big East will make a push for Notre Dame as well. But I'd be surprised if that school jumps anywhere.

OK, so the big question: Will Miami and FSU end up in the same division?

Let's assume there will be a championship game. While there are certainly arguments both ways and the ACC has looked at several models for realignment, it makes sense for the two Florida schools to be in the same division.

If one of the goals of this move was to try to get two teams in the BCS, it makes sense. The runner-up in the division has a better chance of making one of the BCS bowl games than the title game loser. An early loss isn't as devastating as one in the last game of the season.

And finally, with all the money the Big East was throwing at Miami, why did the Hurricanes jump ship?

After all of the hullabaloo, they had no choice. If they stayed, it would have looked like some grand conspiracy to get Virginia Tech out of the league and make their road to a conference title that much easier.

The Big East could offer $9 million a year for five years, but the ACC can offer that for 20. Plus, Miami's Olympic sports teams will save on travel.

If these answers cleared anything up, you're welcome. If they just made things more confusing, join the crowd.

The only thing we know for sure is that the ACC will be very difficult in 2005 and the landscape of college sports is about to change drastically.

You can reach sports columnist Pat Dooley by e-mail at or by calling 374-5053. You can hear Pat weekdays from 4-5 p.m. on WGGG 1230-AM in Gainesville and WMOP 900-AM in Ocala.

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