Instead of John Swofford methodically picking off Big East programs 1 & 2 at a time - Miami & Va Tech in '04, BC in '05, Cuse & Pitt in '13 & Notre Dame in '14 (or something) ... Swofford should have been proactive & absorbed the entire BE football conference into the ACC ranks. If his dream was to create a true Atlantic Coast Conference from Cuba to Canada, he had the opportunity but he was too chicken to make it happen.
Big East football played it's first real 7 game schedule in 1993 so that's 11 seasons of existence before Swofford swooped in and vultured off their football teams. There obviously would have been a lot of media backlash & negative attention back in 2003 but it would've been pretty painless because every BE team (save Temple, sorry Owls) would've been able to join the ACC. All 7 of them. And Swofford wouldn't have been blamed for killing the BE because the BE is a private, Catholic basketball league from 1979 that added football in the 90s to make more money.
BE Basketball in 2003 = Providence, St. John's, Seton Hall, Villanova, Georgetown, Notre Dame then they added DePaul & Marquette for 2005. They had 14 teams total in 2003 w/ the 8 football schools. So absorb as many Atlantic-10 Catholic schools as you want.
Big East football in 2003:
Boston College, Syracuse, Rutgers, Temple, Pittsburgh, West Virginia, Virginia Tech, Miami (UConn jumped up from FCS in '04, partly because they wanted to but mostly of Swofford's raid)
BC, Cuse, Pitt, Va Tech & Miami ended up joining the ACC eventually anyway. Now that the B1G stole Maryland & the ACC has to choose between UConn & Louisville, retrospect shows West Va would've been a good addition despite academics. Rutgers fits despite being not fitting Swofford's basketball school mold.
Super ACC w/ 16 teams in 2004:
NORTH pod: Boston College, Syracuse, Rutgers, Pittsburgh
ATLANTIC pod: Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia, Virginia Tech
COASTAL pod: North Carolina, North Carolina State, Duke, Wake Forest
SOUTH pod: Clemson, Georgia Tech, Florida State, Miami
A proactive move like that by Swofford could have gotten the wheels in his head turning & come up with some ideas like creating ACCtv for Tiers 2 & 3 & leveraging the new markets in South Florida, Pittsburgh, NYC & New England to getting a respectable TV contract for Tier 1. ACCtv would've required giving our rights up & by 2012 the network would've been generating enough revenue, Maryland & Rutgers wouldn't need to play Iowa & Nebraska to afford their sports teams.
Looking back at the old landscape of football conferences back in '03, the SEC & Big XII were at 12. PAC-10 was at 10 and could add Utah & BYU to reach 12. Losing a lot of the reasons why ND liked it's BE membership, might've made them the Big Ten's 12 team or the B1G would've kept waiting for them at 11. So the 5 Power conferences would all be at 12 w/ the ACC/BE at 16.
So 3 moves to end conference realignment among the BCS conferences - BE's 7 join ACC's 9 = 16, Notre Dame joins BIG = 12, Utah & BYU join PAC-10 = 12. SEC & XII arealdy have 12. Everyone's happy. The end?
C-USA has 11 teams back then & would've still kicked out Army & definitely add Central Florida from the MAC, UConn from Independents, Temple from BE, & SMU, Rice, Tulsa from WAC to become a 16-team conference.
NORTH pod: UConn, Temple, Cincinnati, Louisville
SOUTH pod: UAB, ECU, UCF, USF
CENTRAL pod: Memphis, Southern Miss, Tulane, Tulsa
WEST pod: Houston, Rice, SMU, TCU
The MWC would be at 6 teams after Utah & BYU join the Pac-12 & the WAC would've had 7 teams after 3 leave for CUSA. While Utah St, NMST & Idaho were in the Sun Belt.
SOUTH pod: Louisiana Tech, UTEP, New Mexico State, New Mexico
MOUNTAIN pod: Air Force, Colorado State, Wyoming, Utah State
NORTH pod: Idaho, Boise State, Nevada, UNLV
WEST pod: San Jose State, Fresno State, San Jose State, Hawaii
The MAC had 13 after UCF leaves so they just need UMass's football program & could expand to 16 w/ James Madison & Delaware.
POD - UMass, Buffalo, Delaware, James Madison
POD - Kent State, Akron, Ohio, Miami
POD - Marshall, Eastern, Central & Western Michigan
POD - Bowling Green, Toledo, Ball State, Northern Illinois
Sun Belt would take the rest:
POD - Florida Atlantic, Florida International, South Alabama, Troy
POD - Georgia State, Middle Tennessee, Charlotte, Old Dominion
POD - Western Kentucky, Arkansas State, LA-Monroe, LA-Lafayette
POD - North Texas, Texas State, UTSA, Team 16?