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What if Kentucky Moved to the ACC?



Conference realignment. The carousel has seemingly not stopped for the past few years, and it doesn’t look like it will slow down anytime soon. The most recent move has Notre Dame ditching the Big East to join the ACC in every sport but football, leaving the ACC with fourteen football schools. As of now, ACC league commissioner John Swofford says they’re not recruiting any more schools to join, plus adding one more league would mean fifteen schools and a bit of a football scheduling headache.


However, according to Mark Story of the Herald-Leader, rumors are still circulating that the ACC is looking for one more solid school (probably a Big East seceder) to join and strengthen its conference. Story asks the question that made me reel in disbelief: what if that next school to join the ACC was Kentucky?


Take a second and gag a little. Get it out of your system. I’ll wait.


Story argues that a Kentucky move to the ACC would help us tremendously with our struggling football program. Basically, we can’t win in the SEC. Barring a major program reform, we’re always going to be second fiddle to Alabama, LSU, Georgia, Florida, even Vandy some years. It’s disheartening. Texas A&M was in a similar position in the Big 12, but made the bold move to the SEC in hopes of securing a new football identity. Why shouldn’t Kentucky football get the same opportunity?


As for the basketball purists, you can’t deny the ACC’s traditional strength of conference. A move to the ACC would give Kentucky regular opportunities to play against Duke and UNC, plus increase the conference’s revenue by adding at least two more hugely profitable games that would garner enormous ratings for television and guarantee a College Game Day visit. We’d get to see Duke and UNC in Rupp as well as periodically invade their home courts and those irritating Cameron Crazies. Also, the SEC has been weak for the past couple of years, and a move to the ACC would nip any “yeah, Kentucky has a great conference record, but their conference sucks” arguments in the bud.


Plus, we’d get to see more of this.


Rationally, it could work. It could even progress our athletic program. After all, the basketball team is well-established enough that we can succeed wherever we go. The football team needs an extra leg up, and a conference shakeup could be just what the doctor ordered. It could even be a way to show the football players and coaching staff that we value them just as much as basketball, if not more, because this move would benefit them the most.


But you know what? The thought just feels icky in my stomach. Kentucky football may struggle, but our tradition is more than just wins and (lots of) losses. It’s about our state’s Southern identity, our hatred for Tennessee and all things orange, and our road trips to the meccas of tailgating culture. It just feels wrong to think about Kentucky being an ACC school.


Luckily, this speculation is all incredibly premature, and good only for “what if” fodder. For now, Kentucky is safe and sound in the SEC, and there’s no reason to think anything otherwise.



Article written by Kristen Geil

36 Comments for What if Kentucky Moved to the ACC?

  1. Mark
    2:49 pm September 15, 2012 Permalink

    And Florida could finally call themselves ‘the new king of the SEC’ they’ve been so quick to throw out for the last 10 years. Win win for everyone!

  2. Mark Story is an Idiot
    2:58 pm September 15, 2012 Permalink

    Except that ACC basketball below UNC/Duke has been even worse than SEC basketball behind UK/UF for the past decade. The ACC is floating on a reputation that is no longer true. Besides, UK would have a net loss of revenue b/c of the loss of the SEC football share. It’s just as bad an idea now as it has always been. Luckily, it won’t ever happen. UConn will end up in the next ACC slot.

  3. TheBurghCat
    2:59 pm September 15, 2012 Permalink

    Never happen. End of story.

  4. Damien
    3:02 pm September 15, 2012 Permalink

    No. No. No. ACC were we are at is were we need to stay!!!’

  5. burger
    3:08 pm September 15, 2012 Permalink

    Mark Story ran out of things to write.

    My Question: Why doesn’t Mark Story move to Durham, NC?

    This bozo suggests we move conferences (and take a pay cut) and enter a conference that has a $50 million exit fee, because “…the funs wearing off”?

    Kentucky is SEC.

  6. burger
    3:10 pm September 15, 2012 Permalink

    BTW, you’ll have to tell your IT guy to try better, sucuri IP bans stop grandma only.

  7. john
    3:11 pm September 15, 2012 Permalink

    Dumb article. Sure its an easier football conference but recruiting would take a nose dive. The kids we are pulling out of GA and FL want to play in the SEC. That’s why they’re coming to UK.

  8. thenamerobdigity
    3:17 pm September 15, 2012 Permalink

    So the biggest thing that hurts our recruiting now is the geographic location. This would make it worse.

  9. schwing
    3:42 pm September 15, 2012 Permalink

    no. no. no. no. no. no. no. no. no. no. no.

    do you want to put us in a position where we actually have to watch us play those flopmasters at duke twice a year? it has nothing to do with being afraid and everything to do with not wanting to watch the absolute worst display of basketball tactics ever put on the court.

  10. burger
    3:42 pm September 15, 2012 Permalink

    What Mark Story is suggesting would lower the quality of football at Kentucky


    1. Because one of the major recruiting sales pitches we have is:
    “We are in the SEC”. “You’ll get to play against those teams that didn’t recruit you, or decided not to give you the scholarship”.
    Benefit: We can recruit the best talent from the best states (the south).

    2. “As the pro scouts are there to watch the best teams, you’ll get more opportunities to play in front of them”
    Reason: guaranteed SEC play dates part of the regular season schedule.

    3. “Be on national TV more often in the SEC”.
    Reason: the best teams are in the SEC, and they get the most airplay.

    If you move Kentucky to the ACC, our recruiting quality would drop, our product on the field would then drop as a result… and people like Mark Story won’t realize their armchair advice is not only ignorant, it poorly conceived and lacks any depth or vision

    Why did he write it then? Because he’s had to produce an article by a deadline, and that’s all he could come up with.

  11. jetblue
    3:43 pm September 15, 2012 Permalink


  12. burger
    3:44 pm September 15, 2012 Permalink

    Kentucky also has the ability to recruit top players from other states in the SEC and offer then the chance to be the “star” at Kentucky. And not one of many stars at another program.

    Joker hasn’t really taken advantage of this strategy, however it is an open option IF we remain in the best football conference.

  13. kfund
    3:44 pm September 15, 2012 Permalink

    What burger said in 5&10.

  14. burger
    3:53 pm September 15, 2012 Permalink

    If your ever going to bring another coach in at Kentucky who can take this team to the top …



  15. 430 West Vine
    3:53 pm September 15, 2012 Permalink

    It’s all about money, SEC is unmatched in that regard.

  16. burger
    3:55 pm September 15, 2012 Permalink

    The ACC won’t lure a top coach in today’s game regardless of who you are.

    Top coaches want to be in the SEC. Go ask them.

  17. WHY NOT ???
    3:55 pm September 15, 2012 Permalink

    i think it’s be a great move … then we can cheat and no one in the media or at the NCAA offices would care !

  18. Brandon
    4:03 pm September 15, 2012 Permalink

    Ha, I asked this question to MJ last year in a live blog. He said, “Stupid, won’t ever happen” I never said it would happen but my argument was it kind of make sense. Playing the ACC in basketball would blow the roof off Rupp and I believe BBN is a bit tired of playing SEC basketball. There is no respect for winning the SEC and its the one argument that ACC fans have over Kentucky. We play weak teams… Say whatever you want but look at the NCAA Tournament. SEC (minus Kentucky) isn’t making it too far.

    Football in the ACC would give us a chance to go bowling every year. So the question is, what is better? SEC… Top dog in basketball and the laughing stock of football or ACC… Top 3 in basketball and top 5 in football.

    Sure, SEC has more money now and I know Kentucky would never leave but if money wasn’t the deciding factor in collegiate sports, Kentucky to the ACC would be a done deal. I love amateur sports 😉

  19. burger
    4:06 pm September 15, 2012 Permalink

    #18 – Brandon –

    I wouldn’t share that with people if I was you.

    Your assuming the talent level at Kentucky would stay the same.

    Sorry folks. UK moves to the SEC, we lose our recruiting beds in Florida, Georgia, Tennessee & Alabama.

    You can’t lure Randall Cobb to the ACC. He was snubbed by UT, so he came to UK.

  20. Brandon
    4:09 pm September 15, 2012 Permalink

    #10, Ha… Like we have such a high standard of football now!! Look, that recruiting “pitch” hasn’t worked for Kentucky. Its funny how I always hear that from someone every year. Players come to Kentucky because they didn’t get picked up by the other SEC schools. Even Vandy has more to offer than UK.

    ACC would offer higher academic standards, a more even field of play and keeps us in the region where we already recruit. I live in Austin, TX and I tell you, not a chance in Hell that UK will ever be in the same league as Tx A&M and A&M will be lucky to stay in the top 5 in the SEC every year.

    Kentucky is a basketball school but the football team funds most of our athletics. My question is, how much would UK really lose if they made the switch to the ACC? Anyone have those numbers?

  21. Wildcatsteeler
    4:16 pm September 15, 2012 Permalink

    I would love nothing more than to disassociate us from the “South” and the ignorant racism and bigotry that comes with it. Sadly we always vote red but we were part of the Union when it mattered. But most of all it would help the football program TREMENDOUSLY!

  22. Brandon
    4:18 pm September 15, 2012 Permalink

    Burger, I forget that the recruits are lining up now for Joker… Thats a silly argument. So Clemson can’t get any players because they are in the ACC? NC State can’t find anyone to play for them… Both teams would spank UK, a current SEC school.

    What I know is people want to go where they can win. FACT! SEC or not, UK is not a winning program so the cream players in Fla, Ga, Tenn, and Ala recruits will rise to the top of the SEC and the rest will be fought over by the lower half of the SEC.

  23. barn
    5:05 pm September 15, 2012 Permalink

    it could happen if the money is right. it’s all about the $$$. and 21 you’re a dickweed

  24. john
    5:14 pm September 15, 2012 Permalink

    Brandon, you must be really young if you can’t see the difference in talent now compared to 2006 and before (ie. when the SEC became THE conference). We are getting damn good recruits, bud. But even if you believe we aren’t, it doesn’t matter, because we’d get worse ones if we were in the ACC and that’s a fact.

  25. Sammydog
    5:17 pm September 15, 2012 Permalink

    No Kentucky will not join ACC but Louisville will eventually.

  26. john
    5:21 pm September 15, 2012 Permalink

    @25. No, they won’t. ACC won’t take them. They’re nowhere near good enough academically. Honestly, UK probably isn’t either (maybe borderline), so Louisville isn’t even close.

  27. Brandon
    5:40 pm September 15, 2012 Permalink


    I can’t agree with your logic. Scroll back to the top of this post an look at the schools in the ACC and let’s list the ones that would beat Kentucky. Fla St, Clemson, Ga Tech, VA Tech, Miami, Maryland, NC State and Pitt. Shoot, NC would probably knock off UK this year. So your argument that UK is better because we play in the SEC or because it’s some huge recruiting pull is some bull. Who wants to play football in the SEC to get their ass kicked each week? Randall Cobb doesn’t grow on trees and without that one player, Joker would have been long gone.

    And what “big named” coach would want to come to UK? This is a starting job, not a place you end up! Facilities are subpar to other SEC schools and not much consistent talent in the state. I pull for Joker to keep face this year and keep his job. It just feels like climbing a mountain when the others are running downhill…

  28. njCat
    6:12 pm September 15, 2012 Permalink

    Money aside (and of course, money is the most important factor), a move to the ACC would be great for the school and all sports. ACC is competitive nationally in all sports, and is getting close in football w/ Miami, VaTech, Clemson, FSU and .5ND. There would be many more schools KY w/b competitive with, and I bet recruiting would actually improve if the program was not viewed as the doormat of its league.

    Most importantly, bball would be MUCH better. Much rather play ND, Duke, UNC, ‘Cuse and Pitt than UT, Alabama, Georgia USC, the Mississippi schools and Vandy. Top to bottom, as bad as the ACC has been, its better than the SEC and is getting better with the new additions.

    And academically it would be a much better association than the backward southern schools.

  29. Carl
    6:19 pm September 15, 2012 Permalink

    I agree with everyone on here that said NO… As in HELL NO!!!!! money is in football and ACC is still not a contender. We can always play the ACC teams in the final four. 🙂

  30. john
    6:35 pm September 15, 2012 Permalink

    Brandon, you clearly don’t understand how recruiting works. Like I said, whatever you think about our talent level now, you can be assured it would be much worse in the ACC. Top recruits want to play in the SEC and they’ll go to “lowly” schools like UK to be able to do it. These kids all think they can be drafted, so they want to be tested and proven against the best. You don’t get that in the ACC. Secondly, GA and FL are and always will be SEC-first states. These kids grow up wanting to play in the SEC. The ACC is not even on their radar. Even though both states have ACC teams, no one (and I mean no one) cares about GT, FSU, or Miami. Even their own fans, much less recruits. I say this as someone who lives down here. Sorry, just the way it is.

  31. burger
    6:47 pm September 15, 2012 Permalink

    #20 – Brandon –

    Your defending ACC football recruiting based on the rosters of Clemson & NC State?

    Neither team has won a National Championship. As a matter of fact, only 1 ACC team has won an NC in the last 20 years and that was Florida State in 1993 & 1999.

    So as far as that talent, what’s it good for? A lower level of play for quitters to go to.

    You and Mark Story are asking that we accept lower talent, lower quality of play on the field, lower quality opponents for what? So we can be mocked as the only school in the country to ever run from the best conference in football?

    Someday, we have the chance to get a special coach (just like we got Brear Bryant, Adolph Rupp, or John Calipari). Regardless of the odds of it, it’s possible and I believe that. Kentucky has the money to do it. If we move to the ACC, we are eliminating that as a possibility.

    All so you and Mark Story can high five to being the biggest pussies in modern day sports.

  32. mountain man
    7:54 pm September 15, 2012 Permalink

    Not only NO but HELL NO.

  33. CAN WE FINALLY FIRE JOKER????????????
    8:32 pm September 15, 2012 Permalink

    What if Kristen Geil wrote for the Card Chronicle?

  34. Blueneck
    7:50 am September 16, 2012 Permalink

    What is the major issue in every conference change? It’s about the MONEY!!! Yet this rookie writer fails to mention it. And how would UK upgrade their under funded football (and non-rev sports) when they would bring in millions less in the ACC?

  35. Big John
    3:53 pm September 16, 2012 Permalink

    The definition of insanity is trying the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. The biggest problem all of you arguing for the status quo have is, well, history. I’m 50 years old and tired of the utter mediocrity displayed on the football field year in and year out for my entire life. We’ve had 7 winning seasons in-conference ever? That’s pathetic. And zero winning seasons if you disregard the years we were cheating? That’s not only a disgrace it’s a clear message that we simply do not belong. It’s a square peg – round hole thing. Wake up and smell the coffee. Being the perennial SEC doormat how gotten us NOWHERE. And the argument for the status quo based on money is a WHORE’S argument. Time for something different – drastically different. Until somebody comes up with something better, I’m liking the ACC idea. But all I hear are crickets … as if having a shotty football team is part of our identity to be embraced!

  36. GES
    6:37 am September 18, 2012 Permalink

    I’m sorry. It leaves a bad taste in my mouth to say it as well, but I think it’s a good idea. I’ve been reading the arguments for both sides of the issue. Some are thoughtful and well reasoned. Others are simply naive. All those millions of SEC dollars have not helped UK in recruiting…ever. Being in the SEC has not helped UK in recruiting…ever. And for those that think that these kids in Florida and Georgia are growing up wanting to play in the SEC…you’re right. Just not at UK.

    Think about this for just a second. Why has UK suddenly become the team to beat in basketball recruiting? Is it UK’s rich history? We had a rich history when BCG was the coach. We had a rich history when OTS was the coach. NO ! They want to play for John Calipari. Those kids in Florida and Georgia don’t give a whit about the SEC. They want to play for the coaches at Florida and Alabama and LSU. They want to play with the best team mates in the nation. They want to win. If any of you guys think that Gillispie or Smith could have brought in the last four recruiting classes, you need to go lock yourself back in the closet and put the aluminum foil back on your head.

    Here’s the bottom line. And it’s simple. If you, as a UK football fan, want to see the program improve and the record improve one of two things needs to happen – 1) We move out of an extremely difficult conference and win more games every year. 2) We throw the same type of money at a high profile football coach as we did at John Calipari. And we put the same kind of cash into the program and facilities as the Alabamas and LSUs and Floridas do. PERIOD.

    Otherwise we just need to surrender to the idea that we will always suck at football in the SEC.