Keeping Score

ACC move slows expansion, USM likely staying put

The ACC's decision to approve a media grant of rights on Monday will likely keep the league from suffering through any further defections, at least through 2027.

While it doesn't end the possibility of other leagues expanding, it should significantly reduce the chances.

The grant of rights deal means that all TV revenue will stay within the league even if one team leaves.

As an example, if Virginia decided to leave for the Big Ten next year, all of its TV money would stay within the ACC through the duration of the grant of rights deal that lasts through 2026-27. That would cost the Cavaliers a great deal of revenue.

This should prevent the Big Ten from looking to the ACC for potential additions, and it's unlikely there are many remaining attractive options left for the Big Ten.

This is a significant blow to American Athletic Conference schools UConn and Cincinnati, which were both aggressively seeking ACC membership. If the ACC hasn't invited those two schools by this point, it's unlikely the league will do so anytime soon after the grant of rights deal.

UConn and Cincinnati were both looked at by the ACC as the backup options if another school joined Maryland when it decided to jump to the Big Ten.


The schools that have little desire to include Southern Miss in the AAC are likely some of the former Big East programs.

Tulane and Tulsa were recently added because the two schools feature quality media markets and strong academic reputations.

In the end, it's the AAC university presidents that are making the call on these new invitations.

AAC programs like UConn, Navy and Temple see little in common with themselves and USM.

If you remove Cincinnati and UConn from the picture, USM's chances of AAC inclusion do increase.

If the AAC moves to 16 members, USM has a shot at an invitation. However, USM-friendly AAC institutions (maybe Memphis, East Carolina or Houston) would have to convince the old-school Big East members that Southern Miss would be a quality addition.

However, you have to go back to the idea that the AAC has to bolster its TV markets.

You have emerging programs like Texas-San Antonio, UMass and Old Dominion that offer TV sets, and even though Rice has poor fan support, it is a great academic school in a huge market.

USM has been surpassed in the past by huge schools in large media markets (UCF, South Florida) and it remains a real possibility in the coming years.

For now (and possibly for a while), Conference USA is USM's home.

You can easily make the argument that USM's chances of earning a spot in a BCS bowl game will be better if it stays in Conference USA.

Once the BCS system fades away, the Sun Belt, AAC and C-USA will all be on the same terms when it comes to earning a major bowl bid.

The highest-ranked champion out of the Sun Belt, C-USA, Mountain West, AAC and MAC will earn the lone BCS bowl bid offered to those leagues.