One tick after midnight Eastern Time on July 1, fragments of what you knew about college athletics became history. Louisville became a member of the ACC. Maryland and Rutgers joined the Big Ten. Three teams moved into the American Athletic Conference and Davidson transplanted into the Atlantic 10. And those were just some of the notable changes in the continuing chess game of conference realignment.
The process to get to July 1 was loud and wild and sometimes torturous in its own way. And in a blink it becomes official. Here's a rundown of the biggest moves that became official while you were (possibly) sleeping:
Louisville moved to the ACC. The arrival of the Cardinals represents an instant infusion of a formidable football force and a tent-pole basketball program. Wipe out the forgettable Steve Kragthorpe Era, and Louisville football has gone 118-45 since 1998. Charlie Strong is gone to Texas, but the school scooped Bobby Petrino off the scrap heap with the hope that he's a changed man in every way but the ability to win 82 percent of his games, as he did in his first run with the Cardinals from 2003-06. Rick Pitino's basketball program, meanwhile, won the national title in 2013 and has posted 96 wins over the past three seasons. It's a bit much to say that the axis of ACC hoops power tilted westward as of Tuesday, but the Cardinals certainly add some heft.
Maryland and Rutgers moved to the Big Ten. It's basically a bald-faced ploy for television markets and therefore enough money to run a small nation, but the eastward expansion of the Big Ten has arrived. Rutgers football coach Kyle Flood might be coaching for his job after a 6-7 performance in 2013, his second season, while Maryland has a 13-24 record under Randy Edsall -- with a 7-6 mark in 2013 qualifying as a step forward. Rutgers men's basketball, meanwhile, hasn't been to the NCAA tournament since 1991. Maryland has a long and illustrious history as an ACC member, highlighted by its national championship in 2002, but it hasn't earned an NCAA tournament bid since 2010 and has gone 23-29 in ACC play in three seasons under Mark Turgeon.
East Carolina, Tulane and Tulsa moved to the AAC. The short answer for why these three schools were added to the AAC is that commissioner Mike Aresco needed to continue to rebuild inventory and expand the footprint of the new league, which grew out of the ashes of the former Big East. East Carolina, Tulane and Tulsa combined for a 20-18 football record in 2013, with the Pirates winning 10 games. Tulane and ECU were both .500 basketball outfits last season, while the Golden Hurricane won 21 games and reached the NCAA tournament before losing head coach Danny Manning to Wake Forest. Frank Haith was lured away from Missouri as Manning's replacement, though, so at least Tulsa should remain interesting.
Davidson moved to the Atlantic 10. This is a subtle, intriguing piece of the expansion shuffle. Davidson has won 20 or more games in eight of the last 10 years and has made five NCAA tournaments since 2002. A small private school near Charlotte, N.C., isn't going to dramatically boost the league's national audience, but the conference also couldn't afford to be weakened. The A-10 wants to build on its NCAA tournament success from a year ago -- it sent six teams dancing -- and the Wildcats could help with that.
Full list of conference changes:
|school||old conference||new conference|
|Appalachian State||Southern||Sun Belt|
|East Carolina||Conference USA||AAC|
|East Tennessee State||Atlantic Sun||Southern|
|Georgia Southern||Southern||Sun Belt|
|Oral Roberts||Southland||Summitt League|
|Western Kentucky||Sun Belt||Conference USA|