UK fans squirm with Louisville in SEC expansion discussion

Now the Associated Press is reporting that “a source” is saying the University of Louisville “makes the most sense to join the SEC.” We have to assume that the AP has a lot of respect for this particular source because there are others indicating Florida State, Clemson or Virginia Tech would be next in line after Texas A&M.

The day before that it was Missouri. And whatever happened to the idea of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. Remember Georgia Tech. Even Central Florida has been mentioned in the conference expansion discussions.

Louisville is the school they love to hate. For them, that trumps any advantage of the state having two schools in the SEC.

We doubt there have been any dialogue between anyone at U of L with the SEC. More likely, it’s a trial balloon to gauge the reaction of fans in the SEC, including the state of Kentucky. Not that conference officials really care what fans think but it’s always good to include them in the process, if only on the periphery.

UK fans would have a difficult time accepting the fact that their fiercest rival would be a candidate for the SEC. Being Kentuckians and all that implies, they have managed to convince themselves that U of L is not worthy of membership in their exclusive club. That’s the one thing a haughty and boisterous segment of UK fans has going for it. Don’t expect them to ever embrace U of L as an equal.

Strange, they sure get excited about playing U of L. It’s the one game in basketball, football, baseball and soccer that they have to win. Louisville is the school they love to hate. For them, the hate trumps any advantage of their state having two schools in the SEC.

Whether U of L should or would accept an invitation to join the SEC is a topic for another day. For now, it’s interesting to be a part of discussion … and watching some of those nervous UK fans squirm, even if for a day or so.

Jurich ready for new round of conference expansion hysteria

The tremors had not yet reached the tropical paradise.

Tom Jurich gave little indication during his halftime TV interview during the Bahamas basketball exhibition game that he was aware of a possible move of Texas A&M to the Southeastern Conference. A nice little chat with Drew Deener about how well things were going with University of Louisville athletics.

About an hour later, speculation would reach a fever pitch on the Internet, with Florida State having been added to the speculative mix, leaving the ACC for the SEC. Further fed by mentions of Clemson, Virginia Tech and Oklahoma and Oklahoma State

If any combination of the above occurred, the landscape of the college conference would change dramatically. Say, for example, the SEC decided to go to 16 teams. This would force the Big 12, the ACC, the Big Ten, and the PAC to enter the fray, taking the me-too approach to new levels. The Big East would again be pushed into a corner, its back against the wall.

Not that Jurich would have been alarmed or acted any differently.  He’s been here before, faced with the threat of dramatic changes in the conference landscape. No need to bring out the laundry list, but Jurich has laid the groundwork to ensure the University of Louisville athletic program, led by basketball and football, is positioned as a valuable conference candidate when the ground stops shaking.

What’s ironic about this continuing debacle is that so many universities, the self-proclaimed bastions of social equality, fairness, and wealth, are, in fact, are mired so deeply in the mud, selfishly indulging in the greed for riches that they rail against in every other forum while proclaiming their moral and intellectual superiority.

Balderdash! They’re not fooling anyone. Certainly not Tom Jurich, ready to play the next hand.

How About A Basketball-Driven Realignment

None of the recent changes in proposed or actual college conference realignments have had anything to do with basketball. Not even one. In fact, Kansas, one of the leading basketball programs, came perilously close to being relegated to the scrap heap.

Hard to fathom in parts of the country where the following for basketball closely resembles the most fanatical of cults, with an intensity among its frenetic followers that rivals that of some hardened fundamental and radical groups.

Brendan Prunty, of the Star-Ledger in New Jersey, envisions a realignment that would merge the Big East and Atlantic Coast conferences into what he convincingly argues would be the best basketball conference in the nation while also being a respectable football league, as follows:

Big Atlantic Conference

NORTH — Boston College, UConn, Cincinnati, West Virginia, Temple, Villanova, Notre Dame, Georgetown, St. John’s and Maryland.

SOUTH — Wake Forest, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Duke, Louisville, Central Florida, South Florida, Virginia, Virginia Tech, and Memphis.

Under this scenario, Villanova, Notre Dame, Georgetown and St. John’s would be basketball-only schools. Miami, Clemson, Florida State and Georgia Tech would have joined the SEC, and Syracuse, Rutgers and Pittsburgh would have gone to the Big Ten.

The Triangle Hoops Journal, a North Carolina-based blog, has endorsed the concept, noting:

The “Big Atlantic Conference” would be a respectable football conference and would provide sufficient opportunities for the member schools to compete at the highest level.  More importantly, it would remain true to the history and tradition of the basketball-centric ACC and Big East by creating perhaps the best college basketball conference imaginable …

State, Duke, UNC and Wake would get to play each other twice each regular season.  Traditional rivalries in each league would be respected and promoted …

Imagine a conference tournament arranged as follows:  The South division plays two rounds in Greensboro, the North in Madison Square Garden.  The four semi-finalists from each division would then play out the tournament in Greensboro or the Garden, alternating each season.

Gotta love the name, The Big Atlantic Conference. However, the South division of the tournament would have to be played in the new 22,000-seat state-of-the-art arena in Louisville. And Notre Dame would not be pressured into playing conference football, enjoying a great new home for its other sports.

This lineup is one that makes a lot of sense and would generate a highly profitable television network, assuring that basketball remains a major power player on the college athletic landscape.

South Florida Mirage

Louisville fans can be forgiven if they relax against South Florida. The Bulls have been down so long it’s hard to remember if they were ever a serious basketball threat. USF is trudging along with 10-9 won-lost record and is mired in a five-game losing streak.

But Cardinal fanatics should know better by now. This team can’t let up against anyone, not at home, not on the road. This South Florida team was very much in the game at Seton Hall last Thursday before finally succumbing by 10 points. Highlights include a win over Florida State 68-67 at Tallahassee and a 23-point spanking of Rutgers at Tampa.

The Bulls are backed into a corner, trying to salvage their season. They view the U of L game as an opportunity to salvage their manhood, ala Seton Hall. USF has a balanced scoring attack, with four players averaging double figures. They are led by 6-foot-9 Kentrell Gransberry with 16.9 points and 10 rebounds per game.

Their rowdy fans have always hated anything U of L, often taunting coaches and players on the bench. This is not a team to be overlooked or pitied.

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Anyone else needing a college football fix? News from the Schnellenger Complex is that the Spring Scrimmage has been set for April 19th. By the way, football signing day is February 6th.