Sports commentary: Inclusiveness

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The ACC seems willing to take on just about anybody

By Mike Forster


How do you like them apples?

The "you" in this case is anyone who was raised a fan of the Atlantic Coast Conference.

"Them apples" refers to the new configuration of the ACC.

Full disclosure:  I was not weaned on the ACC, as were so many folks in this great commonwealth.  The truth is, I'm a Big Ten guy.  In fact, I'd love to rant about what's happened to the Big Ten, but my boss tells me I'm supposed to direct these discourses toward people who might care about them.  In other words, we're not in Minnesota anymore.

So while I don't have an ACC pedigree, I do bring some emotion and some background into the mix:  I happen to live with someone who grew up a fan of all things ACC.  The wife was raised in Maryland and, as such, was a huge fan of the Terrapins.

She gets misty-eyed talking about how she used to take her tiny transistor radio to bed as a wee tyke.  She'd listen to Maryland basketball games with one of those beige earpieces.  Obviously, these were the days before earbuds and the like.

She swoons when she hears talk of Lefty Driesell, Tom McMillan or Lenny Elmore.

It doesn't take a philosopher on par with Socrates to lay out the logic here:

-The wife typically makes me wonderful dinners.

-The wife likes the ACC

-ACC changes for the worse.

-These changes make the wife unhappy.

-As a result, I get Spam and lima beans for dinner.

At the start of this month, the ACC is now configured to include Syracuse, Pittsburgh and Notre Dame.  (Notre Dame is a full member for all sports except football.)

When the wife grew up, the ACC was a group of seven schools clustered in a four-state group  that numbered North and South Carolina, Virginia and Maryland.

Today, the ACC is neither Atlantic nor is it Coastal, unless you define the banks of Onondaga Lake (where Syracuse sits) as coastal.

In the early 1970s, when the wife was a wee 'un, the greatest distance between any two schools was the 543 road miles between Maryland and Clemson.

This new monstrosity features road trips nearly three times that distance (the 1340 miles between Notre Dame and Miami).

Those distances are of little concern for those at the schools.  After all, that's why airplanes were invented.  But for the fans, it's another issue.  (Well, for those of us who don't happen to own a private jet, it's an issue.)

With the new setup, a Virginia Tech fan loses games against UNC, Wake Forest, UVa and other schools that are within reasonable driving distances.

In their place, you get Syracuse, which is a ghastly 12-hour drive away.  Or Notre Dame, a place you don't even want to think about driving to.

And they talk funny in these new places.  Folks from Virginia and the Carolinas might twang a bit of a different tune, but have you ever talked with people from Boston, Pittsburgh or Syracuse?  Heavens to Murgatroyd!

Look, I didn't move to the South so that a bunch of northerners could move here, as well.  Those schools belong in the Big East, where people neglect to pronounce their "r's", as in "I fuggot whea I pahked the cah."

I have enough trouble getting our Dixie Dictionary updated (see below).  I certainly don't have the patience to try to put together a Yankee version of the feature.

While I can empathize with the pain of you lifelong ACC fanatics, that pain is doubly acute at my place.

That's because Maryland has departed the ACC for (gulp) the Big Ten.

That's right.  The school that the wife grew up cheering for is now in the conference I like.

On the one hand, that means that Minnesota will have the occasional game at College Park.  

On the other, we'll have this weirdness of having Maryland situated among my old Midwestern favorites.  Yeah, Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan and Maryland.  One of these things doesn't belong here.

It's as if, after getting married, I announced to the wife, "Oh, there's this kinda weird brother of mine you've not yet met.  He's got some 'issues.'  And he'll be staying in our basement for the near future."

Such a scenario would unhinge my marriage motto:  Happy wife; happy life.

Local fans, the wife being chief among you, deserve better than this.

I truly feel for those of you who are still big fans of the ACC:  the old version of the conference, that is.

Me?  I'll just go back to my leftover Spam and limas.