GLENDALE, Ariz. – For all the sad words of tongue and pen, the saddest are these: “It might have been.”

With apologies to the poet John Greenleaf Whittier, his phrase could easily describe the regret with which the ACC’s leadership watched Monday night’s national championship basketball game between UConn and Purdue.

And it has nothing to do with the fact that the league’s representative in the Final Four, NC State, was eliminated by the Boilermakers 2 nights earlier.

It’s more about the decisions they made 2 decades ago and then again 8 years later. And how they could have drastically changed the trajectory of the conference had they opted to go in a different direction.

What might have been had the ACC invited UConn to join the league instead of Boston College during the initial round of conference realignment in 2005? Or what might have been if, when given 2 additional chances to add the Huskies, it didn’t pass again in 2011 and 2013?

They’re questions that can never be answered with any degree of certainty.

But it’s not that difficult to come up with an educated guess while watching coach Dan Hurley and his team cut down the nets for the 2nd straight year after their 75-60 dismantling of Purdue at State Farm Stadium.

The title is UConn’s 6th overall and 5th since being told that it just wasn’t ACC material.

It’s not exactly as if the ACC has gone completely into the tank without the Huskies. Teams representing the league have claimed 6 nattys since the conference started expanding.

And yet, you’d never know it by the way the national talking heads and internet trolls disparage the league. Or by a flawed NET ranking system that holds conferences like the Mountain West in higher regard.

Adding an elite team like UConn at the top of the food chain at either opportunity wouldn’t just have improved the ACC’s metrics. It would have cast the league in a much more favorable light. Especially among those media members in the Northeast who still hold a grudge against the ACC for raiding and subsequently killing their beloved original Big East.

FanDuel Sportsbook

21+ and present in NC. Gambling problem? Call 877-718-5543 or visit



BET $5, GET $200


Make no mistake, the folks in Storrs desperately wanted to be part of the exodus that eventually led to BC, Pittsburgh, Miami, Syracuse and Virginia Tech being absorbed into the conference.

Then-athletic director Jeff Hathaway and other school officials lobbied the ACC hard during the first round of expansion but missed out in part because BC’s football program was better at the time.

That proved to be an important development because when the Huskies tried to get in again in 2011, it was BC that led the charge to keep them out because of a reluctance to share what was believed to be – and has since turned out not to be – a lucrative New England television market.

It also didn’t help that UConn’s basketball program under Jim Calhoun ran afoul of the NCAA for violations committed during the recruitment of a player named Nate Miles. And that it received a 1-year postseason ban for failing to meet the NCAA’s minimum academic progress rate standards.

That unholy trinity led to the Huskies getting passed over by the ACC in favor of Pitt and Syracuse, then again 2 years later in favor of Louisville after Maryland left the league for the Big Ten.

Think the ACC would love to have a mulligan over any of those decisions?

While BC did enhance the league’s football product initially, winning the Atlantic Division and getting to the championship game in both 2007 (with Matt Ryan at QB) and 2008. But 15 seasons and 5 coaches later, the Eagles have been the epitome of mediocrity, appearing in the AP Top 25 just once, for 4 weeks in 2018. They haven’t finished in the Top 25 since Ryan left in 2007.

Syracuse’s once-proud basketball program has suffered a similar fate while Louisville’s has become a dumpster fire that’s singed both the ACC’s reputation and standing in the computer rankings.

The decline in those once-traditional powers has sent commissioner Jim Phillips and others scrambling to try and do something, anything, to combat the negative perception that hangs over the league.

A good starting place for them would be to correct the mistakes of the past by extending UConn an invitation to join the conference. And do it quickly, before the Big 12 has a chance to beat it to the punch.

Adding the Huskies makes a lot more sense than expanding to Texas and the West Coast.

Plus, it would benefit everyone involved.

The value UConn would add to the ACC needs no explanation. The Huskies, meanwhile, would almost certainly jump at the opportunity because of the significant revenue increase it would produce, the ability to restore its football program to power conference status and the added exposure of being affiliated with ESPN rather than Fox.


21+ only. NC only. Subject to eligibility requirements. Gambling problem? Call 1-800-GAMBLER or 877-718-5543 or visit


North Carolina IS LIVE

BET $5, GET $150 + No-Sweat SGP Token Every Game of NBA Playoffs


If you think that UConn is too attached to the Big East to leave, guess again. Published reports have indicated that football coach Jim Mora began telling potential recruits almost as soon as he arrived in 2022 that the school would be a member of the ACC “within the next few years.”

It just makes too much sense not to happen.

But then, it did in 2005, 2011 and 2013, as well. The ACC was left to wonder “what if” by not adding the Huskies to its ranks when it had the chance on any of those 3 those occasions.

It’s a mistake the league can’t afford to make again.