Louisville, with one of the best football-basketball combinations of any school in college sports, was always an intriguing option for conferences looking to expand. The ACC ended up landing the Cardinals, a pretty nice addition to the two major sports in the league.
The ACC voted to add Louisville early Wednesday morning. The Cardinals replace Maryland, which bolted to the Big Ten last week.
Louisville's defection from the Big East comes a day after the conference strangely added Tulane, a poor fit geographically with little fan support and historically bad football and men's basketball programs. It's pretty safe to say who is not winning realignment at the moment.
The Big East, which also reportedly will add East Carolina for football only, is trying to land a new television contract, but the product it is selling looks pretty dismal. Not only did it lose Louisville, UConn was being considered by the ACC and Cincinnati made a late push to join, according to Yahoo! columnist Pat Forde. The once proud Big East is really just a mid-major at this point, and it could get even worse. It's safe to bet that Louisville's move does not signal the end of the realignment mess.
There was more realignment news on Wednesday after Louisville, as multiple reports said Middle Tennessee State had agreed to leave the Sun Belt to join Conference USA, which lost Tulane and East Carolina this week. And then, Florida Atlantic also agreed to join Conference USA. Just assume there's more movement to come.
If anything, the Louisville-Maryland swap makes ACC sports a little stronger. Louisville has been consistently good in football since the late 1990s, except for a bad three-year run with Steve Kragthorpe as coach, and the men's basketball program is among the best -- and most profitable -- in America. Both of those programs are an upgrade over Maryland. The Cardinals are also very good in other sports like women's basketball and baseball.
Louisville gives the ACC 14 teams. If the ACC decides to expand even further, there will be plenty of schools interested to join. Any decent school left in the Big East will presumably want to find a better spot as soon as it can.
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