I miss little things about the old ACC. The tight geography created interesting contempt and loyalty. ACC teams could criticize each other. But outsiders better not.
When I moved to Charlotte, I was shocked to hear fans yell "ACC! ACC!" after a victory by an ACC team against a non-conference opponent. Nobody ever yelled, "Big Ten! Big Ten!" when Ohio State or Michigan beat somebody from the ACC.But a conference is like a city. If you don't grow, you shrink. If Syracuse, Pitt and Notre Dame and, soon, Louisville, had not hooked up with the ACC, they would have hooked up with somebody else.
If Charlotte doesn't attempt to compete for new business as well as hang on to old business, somebody else will claim it. We are where we are in part because of our extraordinary corporate-public partnership, and because we've had more than our share, much more than our share, of visionaries. This is not the time to draw in, cover up and cower.
Envisioning new teams in the conference is like envisioning new free-agents on a local roster. It's fun to think about. You don't want to see Duke at Notre Dame, Syracuse at North Carolina or N.C. State at Pitt? It's like a coming together of different species.
You don't want to see Mike Krzyzewski, Roy Williams and the fellows compete in an ACC tournament at Madison Square Garden? I've seen pro basketball and a heavyweight title fight in the Garden. You know when you walk in that you're someplace special. You also know that, when you walk out, you can find something to eat no matter what time it is.
Also, ACC football is consistently mediocre. Every season is going to be the season football emerges. It never is. The conference adds Miami. Instead of Miami lifting the ACC, the ACC drags Miami down.
There's nothing to lose in football.
In basketball, I want to see Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim in Clemson. He talked about eating at the Denny's there, and I don't think he meant it as praise. There are three in the area, incidentally.
But if you can't find good food in a college town, it's your fault.
When I'm in Clemson, I go to the Esso Club.
Boeheim should, too.