In yet another report of one school blocking another's potential move to a new conference, a particularly ironic one has surfaced. The Boston Globe's Mark Blaudschun reports that the ACC's original desire was to expand by two teams, and those two teams were Syracuse and Connecticut. However, the addition of Connecticut was blocked primarily by the lobbying efforts of former Big East member Boston College. Blaudschun writes:
While Syracuse presented no problem, UConn did - to BC, which was still fuming over what it perceived to be vitriolic comments made when BC was finally invited to join the ACC and started competing in 2005. UConn and Pittsburgh filed a lawsuit against BC, and Calhoun made comments about never playing BC again.
"We didn’t want them in,’’ he said. "It was a matter of turf. We wanted to be the New England team.’’
DeFilippo does not deny that BC opposed the inclusion of UConn.
blatant hypocrisy irony of Boston College blocking Connecticut from being able to do precisely what Boston College itself did just six years prior is almost too much to take. The argument against adding Connecticut only enhances how petty and foolish DeFilippo is about the whole thing. What evidence is there that Connecticut in any way detracts from Boston College's persona as "New England's team"? I would argue that it's absurd to think New England even has a college football team that could be described as such. Connecticut went to the Fiesta Bowl last year and averaged less than capacity at home and hardly sent anyone to the bowl game. Boston College hosted UMass and had just 30,000 people in attendance. Perhaps Boston College should focus on being Massachusetts' team before caring about expanding its draw to all of New England?
This could also make for some uncomfortable moments as it becomes clear that Pittsburgh was the ACC's second choice that had to be lobbied for in the first place. Blaudschun writes:
Veteran Big East observers could only shake their heads at the irony. Pittsburgh, led by president Mark Nordenberg, was one of BC’s strongest critics when it left the Big East. It blasted BC when it left after being rejected by the ACC the first time and then regrouping with the other Big East schools to formulate a battle plan for survival, with Nordenberg describing BC as the "fox in the henhouse.’’
Even more ironic this time was that Pittsburgh was a prime player in the Big East battle plans and Nordenberg had been one of the loudest voices against the Big East accepting the lucrative offer from ESPN, which would have nearly doubled the payoff to each school from $6 million to slightly more than $11 million per school.
What prompted the lawsuit by UConn and Pitt was not the jump to the ACC. All the schools involved, including UConn, conceded that if they had been called, they probably would have done the same thing. What caused the rage was the timing, which was after the initial rejection and during what Big East schools considered confidential strategy sessions.
The actions of both DeFilippo and Nordenberg make one wonder just how anyone in a future meeting of ACC athletic directors will ever trust one another to do the right thing for the larger group at hand. Nordenberg led the fight against the Big East's new television deal only to leave the league holding the bag. Boston College snuck into the ACC when Syracuse balked at being the 12th team due to the politics involved in Virginia Tech being invited in its place. Now Syracuse, Pitt, Virginia Tech, and Boston College will be conference mates, having stabbed one another in the back in one way or the other to get there.
That'll be fun to watch.