While the last decade or so have resulted in a great deal of instability at the Division I level from a conference alignment standpoint, the first major changes to the system began in the 1990s. Less than a decade after a landmark Supreme Court case removed NCAA-imposed limits on how often schools could appear on national television (it’s a long read), schools began moving around with football (same at it ever was) serving as the catalyst.
Penn State joined the Big Ten, Florida State moved to the ACC and Miami joined the Big East in what were considered to be the three biggest moves by schools that were independents when it came to football. And according to a story written by Mark Story in the Lexington Herald-Leader there was another move up for consideration: Kentucky leaving the SEC to join the ACC.
Former Kentucky athletic director C.M. Newton had some interesting comments on the situation, which consisted of quiet discussions between he, then school president Dr. Charles Wethington and ACC leaders, including how he saw Kentucky’s connection to the SEC and that of Florida State to the ACC.
Among the officials he met with, Newton said, were then-ACC Commissioner Gene Corrigan and then-Duke Athletics Director Tom Butters.
“They wanted us to come on and join their league,” Newton said. “I thought, with the way (UK) football was (struggling in the SEC), that might have been the best path for us. I always felt like (Florida State) was an SEC school in the ACC and Kentucky an ACC school in the SEC.”
Given the amount of success enjoyed by Kentucky’s basketball program a move to the ACC certainly would have captivated college basketball fans, with the Wildcats having the opportunity to play conference games against the likes of Duke and North Carolina. But there’s also something to be said for the rivalries the school enjoyed in the SEC, and while money has been the biggest factor in conference realignment the dollars weren’t as plentiful during the 1990s as they are now.
A move to the ACC could have benefitted Kentucky, but as Newton pointed out in the story it would have been very tough to leave a league as strong (and as lucrative) as the SEC.
h/t Kentucky Sports Radio
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — He’s back.
For the first time this season — and for the first time in more than a year that he hasn’t been hampered with some kind of foot or ankle injury — Marcus Paige donned a North Carolina jersey, and it didn’t take him long to find the form that made him the NBCSports.com Preseason National Player of the Year.
On the first Tar Heel possession, Paige came off of a ball-screen, drove the lane and found Kennedy Meeks at the rim for a layup. Not 30 seconds later, he came off of a down screen and buried a three. Paige would finish with 20 points and five assists as No. 9 North Carolina put together a fairly resounding win over No. 2 Maryland in the Dean Dome on Tuesday night, winning 89-81.
Paige finished 7-for-12 from the floor and 4-for-5 from beyond the arc, hitting a number of threes in the second half that helped hold off a Maryland push sparked by their own all-american point guard, Melo Trimble.
Trimble was erratic early on, committing three turnovers in the first six minutes and eight on the night, but it was his play at the end of the first half and early second half that kept North Carolina from blowing their doors. At one point, Maryland was down 32-19 and in danger of getting run out of Tobacco Road.
In total, Trimble finished with 23 points and 12 assists, hitting four big threes during that stretch. He either scored or assisted on 11 of Maryland’s first 12 second half field goals.
As good as Paige was, the bigger story may actually be Joel Berry II. He took two dumb threes in the first half — which played a role in Maryland being able to make this a game — and he missed a few free throws late, but overall he was terrific. He finished with 14 points and five assists, making 3-of-5 threes and turning the ball over just twice. He’s clearly beat Nate Britt out at the point guard spot, and his ability to take pressure off of Paige as a secondary ball-handler and playmaker is huge.
(More to come from Chapel Hill…)
North Carolina is hosting No. 2 Maryland in a heated contest in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Terps sophomore guard Melo Trimble is playing very well and part of his performance was dropping North Carolina’s Nate Britt with a crossover in the second half.
(H/T: The Cauldron)