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ACC accepts Pitt, Syracuse as new members

Well, it's official. The ACC will be adding two former Canes' Big East rivals to the conference: Pittsburgh and Syracuse.

Pittsburgh-Syracuse Sunday morning the ACC announced that its council of presidents unanimously voted to accept the Panthers and Orange, a move that increases its membership to 14 and sends the Big East scrambling to replace two of its cornerstone programs.

The big questions now: When exactly will Syracuse and Pitt make the move? And is the ACC done expanding?

"We are constantly evaluating the competitive landscape to ensure the conference's viability for years to come, and this, I believe, has staying power," ACC commissioner John Swofford said on a conference call this morning.

"First of all, we are very comfortable with this 14. The only thing I would add to that is that we are not philosophically opposed to 16. But for now we are very pleased with this 14. We think it is just an excellent group."

Sunday's announcement is just another sign college athletics is likely headed toward building 12, 14, and 16-team super conferences -- with the Big 12 Conference and Big East being the two that get picked apart.

Last year, Colorado left the Big 12 for the Pac-12, Nebraska left for the Big Ten and now recently Texas A&M made its intentions known it will be joining the SEC. The board of regents at Oklahoma and Texas are supposed to be meeting Monday to discuss the possibility of the universities leaving the conference too.

It's been speculated Texas, a super power with its own TV network, could end up joining the ACC, the Pac-12 or just going independent. If Texas comes to the ACC, it could bring Texas Tech with it. There are also reports two more Big East teams -- Connecticut and Rutgers -- are also under consideration by the ACC.

While there have been reports the SEC is potentially interested in taking Florida State and Clemson from the ACC, Swofford confirmed Sunday 11 of 12 conference presidents unanimously approved raising the ACC's exit fee to $20 million (up from $12 to $14 million) for any member leaving the conference last Tuesday -- a strong move to keep ACC schools from leaving.

With Pittsburgh and Syracuse's additions Sunday, the ACC has now taken five teams from The Big East. In 2004, UM and Virginia Tech left the Big East for the ACC. A year later, Boston College followed. As for how long it will take for Pitt and Syracuse to actually start playing in the ACC, no one is really sure yet. The Big East's exit fee is $5 million and schools wanting to leave must provide a 27-month notice.

Swofford said adding Pitt and Syracuse schools allows the league to renegotiate its 12-year, $1.86 billion television contract that began this season, "and we're confident that will have a positive impact." Translation: More big TV bucks for the ACC and its schools. Also a new possibility: the ACC Tournament at Madison Square Garden in New York. 

So what do you think of the additions? How does this help or hurt the Canes? And what should the ACC do next? Are you pumped about returning to the Carrier Dome or Heinz Field every few years?

Personally, I'm not. I feel this is huge for basketball and not as big a deal in football. Pittsburgh has nine national championships in football, but the last came in 1976. The Panthers have won just two Big East titles (2004, 2010) and have played in a BCS bowl game just once (2004). Since it's last trip to the Orange Bowl in 1998, Syracuse has had six losing seasons and been to just four bowl games.

Now, if the ACC can add Texas to the fold, it makes this an entirely different story -- and potentially makes the ACC the most powerful conference in college sports. But I don't see that happening. 

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