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BC likes ACC additions

Pitt, Syracuse give Eagles company

By Mark Blauschun
Globe Staff / September 19, 2011

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The mood at Boston College yesterday was mixed.

The downside was a football team that is 0-3 after a 20-19 home loss to Duke Saturday. The Eagles have as many problems as solutions, and coach Frank Spaziani will try to put things together before Saturday’s game against Football Championship Subdivision opponent Massachusetts.

But in athletic director Gene DeFilippo’s office the mood was more upbeat, with the focus more on the big picture. With yesterday’s formal announcement by the Atlantic Coast Conference that Pittsburgh and Syracuse are coming on board, the Eagles finally will have some playmates in the Northeast.

Just when the move will happen is not certain at this point, as Big East regulations stipulate a 27-month waiting period and a $5 million fee. But those terms are negotiable.

“We’re absolutely delighted,’’ said DeFilippo, who was part of the 12-person committee that has spent the last several months looking at long-term expansion plans for the ACC. “This is fabulous for BC. One of the downsides of moving to the ACC was that we had no Eastern rivals. Now this gives us two.

“I went through the record books, and outside of Holy Cross we haven’t played anyone more than Syracuse. We have played them 46 times. We have played Pittsburgh 29 times. It gives us an Eastern rival we can play on Thanksgiving weekend every year.’’

Syracuse was part of the original ACC expansion plan seven years ago when the conference first made its raid of the Big East.

“They [ACC] were going to take us, Syracuse, and Miami,’’ said DeFilippo. “Duke and North Carolina were opposed to any kind of expansion, and at the time, you needed seven votes to get approval. But then the governor of Virginia forbid any expansion which didn’t include Virginia Tech, so we didn’t get the vote from Virginia. The ACC wound up taking Miami and Virginia Tech and we came a year later.’’

DeFilippo said the ACC would be fine with 14 teams. So did conference commissioner John Swofford in a conference call yesterday. But DeFilippo said that if the expansion were increased to 16, he could live with it. “We’re at 14 teams - for now,’’ said Swofford.

DeFilippo said the ACC wants to increase the quality of its teams as much as anything. “I think we want the best teams,’’ he said. “If someone is out there that fits what we want, we will consider them.’’

Swofford was delighted with the move.

“With the addition of these two schools, the ACC will cover virtually the entire Eastern seaboard of the United States,’’ he said. “This is a monumental day in the history of our league. This, we believe, has staying power.’’

DeFilippo confirmed what Swofford said - that the ACC had received numerous inquiries from teams. He declined to name them, but according to sources in the Big East, ACC, Pac-12, and Big 12, Texas remains a contender, providing the Longhorns don’t opt to stay in the Big 12 or move West.

According to sources in the conference, the ACC is looking at several options. At the top of the wish list is to get Texas and Notre Dame. Wish No. 2 is to land Texas and a travel partner, most likely Texas Tech. Option No. 3 is to add Texas and UConn, No. 4 is to bring aboard UConn and Rutgers.

While Swofford would not mention any schools other than Syracuse and Pittsburgh, a source at UConn said that Huskies officials already had reached out to the ACC. UConn officials also want to contact BC about playing the Huskies in both football and basketball, with games at Alumni Stadium, at UConn, and at Foxborough, and basketball games at both campuses and at TD Garden.

Swofford raised the possibility of New York City being the site for the ACC basketball tournament, which currently rotates sites each year.

“We’d love to have it in New York,’’ said DeFilippo. “If we can’t be in the game, can you think of anything better than a Saturday night final between North Carolina and Syracuse or Pitt and Duke?’’

The Big East basketball-only schools have scheduled a teleconference to discuss their future today. The conference has Madison Square Garden locked up through 2016 for its tournament.

One issue will be how Syracuse and Pittsburgh handle their lame duck status in the Big East. Syracuse president Nancy Cantor said she hopes the Orange’s Big East brethren will be “collegial.’’

DeFilippo could only laugh at the remark. In BC’s lame duck season in the Big East, the Eagles took a trip to Syracuse for a football game and were pelted with dollar bills and other items.

“I had a police escort there and at Rutgers,’’ said DeFilippo. “It was pretty wild.’’

Pitt president Mark Nordenberg said he also hoped the transition would be smooth.

Nordenberg early in his tenure at Pitt was part of the group of schools that sued BC when it left the Big East. When BC was first rejected by the ACC and then later accepted, Nordenberg called BC the fox in the hen house.

“The Big East has been Pitt’s conference home for nearly 30 years,’’ said Nordenberg. “It has been a good home that we will leave with many fond memories and many strong friendships.

“All of us are committed to working with [commissioner] John Marinatto to make this a smooth transition.’’

Yet last night there were rumblings in the Big East that the future of Marinatto was being discussed.

Both defensive tackle Kaleb Ramsey (back) and running back Montel Harris (knee) could be available for Saturday’s game against UMass.

“[The players] are obviously disappointed, but they can see the areas they are improving in and the areas we need improvement in,’’ said Spaziani.

DeFilippo dismissed any notion that Spaziani’s future at BC is in doubt.

“Spaz is a terrific coach and doing a great job’’ he said.

Mark Blaudschun can be reached at blaudschun@globe.com.