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Onward Debates: Should Penn State Consider the ACC?

The past few years have seen major changes in the world of college sports, specifically major college football. Schools have been switching their conference affiliations left and right. Colorado and Utah got the ball rolling June of 2010 by moving from the Big 12 and WAC to the newly formed Pac-12. Around the same time, Nebraska made the move to the Big Ten. More recently, Texas A&M made the transfer to the SEC, and bigger headlines were made as Syracuse and Pittsburgh have become the newest members of the ACC.

Amidst these recent conference transformations, there have been rumors linking Penn State to the ACC. While Penn State sources have squashed this rumor, we can’t help but to ponder what it’d be like if the Nittany Lions made the jump from the Big Ten to the ACC.

Pros (by Sam Cooper)

In a lot of ways, a conference transition, especially to the ACC, seems like it could be beneficial to the Penn State Athletics program. Here are a few reasons why.

Renewal of Rivalries
It doesn’t seem to be common knowledge to the current population of Penn State students, but Penn State and new ACC member Syracuse have a long rivalry that goes back to the 1920s. The two programs were pretty even from the ’50s to the ’70s with Syracuse winning 11 games and Penn State winning 10. Penn State, however, dominates the all-time series 41-23-5.

Additionally, Penn State would rekindle its contention for Pennsylvania bragging rights with the University of Pittsburgh. Penn State has faced off against Pitt 96 times, more than any other opponent. The two haven’t played since 2000, but have recently agreed to renew their rivalry in 2016-17. If both teams joined the ACC, there would be no need to schedule such non-conference games. It’d allow us Penn Staters to talk trash to and visit all of our friends who go to Pitt.

Penn State also played the University of Maryland between 1960 and 1993. PSU completely dominated that “rivalry”, winning 35 of 37 matchups.

It Makes Sense Geographically
Penn State is an East Coast school in a Midwest conference. Geographically speaking, Penn State is the farthest eastern school in the Big Ten. With the addition of Nebraska, the Big Ten has become even more centralized in the Midwest. It makes a lot of sense to have Penn State’s conference opponents to be strictly on the east coast. Instead of making long treks to Minnesota and Wisconsin, we’d see the Nittany Lions heading to Chestnut Hill, Mass. to face Boston College or Blacksburg, Va. to square off with Virginia Tech.

Most of the schools in the ACC are located in the Southeast of the U.S., but with the addition of Boston College, and most recently, Pitt and Syracuse, the conference is spreading into the Northeast. Penn State would be a logical choice for the conference to continue their expansion.

New, Exciting Competition for Sports Programs
From a student perspective, I’d love to see top athletes from schools like Miami (disregarding their current athletic scandal) and Wake Forest come into Beaver Stadium. For the basketball program, who wouldn’t love to see the North Carolina Tar Heels or Mike Krzyzewski and the Duke Blue Devils roll into the Bryce Jordan Center? This would be extremely exciting for a basketball program with a bright future. Other sports like Volleyball and Wrestling would be exposed to another portion of the country to prove their dominance in a new conference.

An Easier Road to Football Prominence
Let’s face it; Penn State’s football team has not been at its best over the past few years. The immense competition of the Big Ten Conference with opponents like Ohio State, Iowa, and Wisconsin have given the Nittany Lions fits. These conference switches are mainly football-driven, and a switch to the ACC would slightly lower the competition level on the road to a BCS bowl game. Consider the opponents. Penn State’s best competition would be Florida State and Virginia Tech. There are many other schools that are very mediocre in the football department. The ACC could provide Penn State a quicker ascent back to college football prominence.

It Ain’t Gonna Happen
It’s definitely fun to imagine a world with Penn State in the ACC, but all indications make it appear that PSU to the ACC is nothing more than a rumor.


Cons (by Ryan Beckler)

  • National Exposure – The Big Ten Network not only puts the football team in millions of homes, but it also puts other sports such as basketball, soccer, volleyball, and wrestling in front of many eyes as well.
  • Conference Tradition – Do you really want to play teams that use a different jersey every game?
  • Fast-paced Basketball – Now, who in the hell would want that?

At the end of the day, revenue is main reason I can’t see Penn State leaving the Big Ten. Football brings in revenue and football in the Big Ten is simply a better product.

Where do you fall on the conference issue when it comes to Penn State? Would you approve of a move to the ACC, or do you feel that the Big Ten is the best place for the Nittany Lions? Leave us a comment!

About the Author


Posts from the all-student staff of Onward State.


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