The Sporting News created waves in the college sports world yesterday by picking up a tweet by Jeff Ermann, a reporter on Maryland's 247Sports site, claiming that the Big 10 has invited North Carolina, along with Georgia Tech and Virginia. For those following conference realignment rumors, neither this particular scenario, nor the Big Ten's desire to go beyond the 14 teams currently in the conference break any new ground. These items have been discussed for months by the various posters with "sources." Dave Glenn at the ACC Sports Journal had reported that Georgia Tech, UNC and Virginia had been "approved" for Big Ten membership way back in November.
So why did the Sporting News, a somewhat respectable publication, decide to pick this up now? It probably has a little do with the fact that Jeff Ermann was the guy that helped break the Maryland to the Big Ten story. Unlike a lot of the realignment rumor mongers (a couple of guys associated with West Virginia come to mind), Jeff Ermann has typically been pretty conservative with his realignment news, and still has goodwill after nailing the Maryland story.
Ermann has maintained his original tweet though that UNC, UVa and Georgia Tech all have actual offers to join the Big Ten and, further, that UVa is all but in the bag. Now all eyes point to the ACC vs. Maryland lawsuit and Maryland's exit fees. Maryland lost on its motion to dismiss the ACC's lawsuit this week -- a huge victory for the conference. This is going to drag on, folks, because Maryland can't pay the exit fee, and the ACC has no incentive to compromise. It could even get ugly as Maryland picks apart the ACC's books to attempt to show that the exit fee is an unenforceable penalty.
What happens with Maryland and the exit fee will likely drive whether others leave. I still maintain that the next shoe to drop, if any, will be in Tallahassee, but the recent news may have Tobacco Road looking inward.
So whither Carolina, Duke and the ACC? Should Duke be scared? Where does the SEC play into this?
While I love reasonable speculation, I'll leave that in the comments. But post your thoughts, concerns, predictions. Hell, castigate me for giving credence to a baseless internet rumor. It's all up for discussion. I love this stuff, so let's see how far we can take a reasonable discussion before the "Duke to the Ivy League!!" shouts begin.
Have at it....