Feels good waking up in the morning, knowing the University of Louisville is going to the Atlantic Coast Conference. A massive load lifted from the many concerns that life throws one’s way.
“Louisville doesn’t have to care about the risk of reverse athletics gentrification anymore. It’s movin’ on up to the east side. With a boost to both athletics and the school’s academic reputation, the Cardinals turned one of the most precarious situations in this game of musical chairs into one of its biggest wins,” as a Sports Illustrated writer put it.
The national perception of UofL in both athletics and academics will take take giant strides forward as the university becomes an integral part of the ACC. The invitation came largely as a result of Tom Jurich’s recognition of football as the sport that drives college athletics and his insistance on quality and competitiveness in all sports. President Jim Ramsey’s “upward trajectory” in academics was important while not a deciding factor.
Other than athletic advantages, UofL will benefit from the ACC International Academic Collaborative, which emphasizes international and global affairs, especially study and research abroad. Others include Ph.D. student exchanges, roundtables of chief technology officers, conference calls among chief procurement officers, and annual conferences for undergraduate research projects. Being a part of such consortiums can only benefit UofL when it comes to assigning federal research grants.
Based on the reaction on fan message boards and radio talk shows, some University of Kentucky fans aren’t sure what to make of UofL being invited to the ACC. Many obviously think their long-time dominance in the state is somehow threatened and, for now at least, are unable to come to grips with UofL’s elevated stature. How many UK fans have congratulated you for UofL’s entry into the ACC? Fans being fans, they may never be able to publicly acknowledge that UofL is a major player. By denying it, they are, in effect, confirming their own fears and inadequacies.
Tom Jurich’s football scheduling challenges just got much lighter, with UofL playing teams like Florida State, Clemson, North Carolina State, Wake Forest, Syracuse and Boston College, the other teams in the ACC’s Coast Division every season, along with Virginia, which was Maryland’s inter-division rival. Atlantic Division members Miami, Virginia Tech, North Carolina, Georgia Tech, Pittsburgh and Duke will be there in other years.
ACC bowl tie-ins include the Orange Bowl in Miami, the Champs Bowl in Orlando, the Chick-fil-A in Atlanta, the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, the Meineke Car Care in Charlotte, the Music City in Nashville, the Emerald in San Francisco, and the Humanitarian in Boise. And, of course, an advantageous tie-in to college football’s new playoff series, starting in 2015, and the $18 million per school payout deal with ESPN.
The basketball schedule, of course, becomes even tougher with the addition of perennial powers Duke and North Carolina to go along with Wake Forest, Syracuse, Pittsburgh. The ACC becomes the best basketball conference in the nation, without question. Baseball, soccer, women’s basketball and softball benefit greatly, as does women’s lacrosse.
Whether conference realignment is over or not, a bright new day is beckoning the University of Louisville.