It was just over two months ago that Virginia Tech men’s basketball coach Seth Greenberg and Pittsburgh Coach Jamie Dixon sat next to one another along a baseline during an AAU tournament at the Discovery Sports Center in Boyds.
For more than two hours they watched potential recruits, as the conversation flowed from their children to scheduling to how to defend the post. Neither had any idea they could soon be competing against one another on a regular basis.
That, though, is what impressed Greenberg most about the ACC’s decision to add Pittsburgh and Syracuse to the conference.
“I think you’ve got to tip your hat to the ACC,” Greenberg said Sunday. “While other conferences were basically positioning themselves publicly, I think that the leadership of the ACC quietly, behind-the-scenes did their due diligence and made our league even better. The ACC is so powerful that institutions such as Pitt and Syracuse would seek membership and want to be part of it.
“Those two schools not only add value to the league in terms of television and things of that nature, but more importantly they continue to add quality. The one thing about this expansion, this expansion will most definitely be embraced as opposed to the last expansion.”
At Virginia Tech, Greenberg’s program will perhaps feel the most profound effect from the ACC’s latest foray into expansion, as the addition of Pittsburgh and Syracuse should return the conference to its status as the premier college basketball league in the country.
The Hokies have missed the NCAA tournament the past four seasons, but Greenberg believes a stronger league will help, not hurt, in that regard.
“The more great teams you have in your league, the more opportunities you have to do something special,” said Greenberg, who added that he thinks there will be an 18-game conference schedule once Pittsburgh and Syracuse begin ACC play. “We’ve kind of created an energy and a synergy in our program by having the opportunity and being successful against the Dukes and the Carolinas and the upper echelon of the league.
“I think great players want to play against the very best to challenge themselves. It’s not gonna change the way we do things. We’re gonna try to get the best people and players that we can get, get guys who are committed to the big picture of what we’re doing. That’s who we are.”
As for his two counterparts, Dixon and Syracuse Coach Jim Boeheim, Greenberg can empathize with how they’re feeling. He came to Virginia Tech in 2003 expecting to coach in the Big East only to do so for one season.
The very next year Virginia Tech began play in the ACC.
“I know they’re gonna have a lot of fun at [Big East] media day this year,” Greenberg said. “I went through that. It’ll be interesting to see the warm and fuzzy welcome they get. But you’re talking about two guys that have done as good a job as anybody in the country. I don’t think they need my help in transitioning.”
As for the effect on the rest of Virginia Tech’s programs, Athletic Director Jim Weaver politely declined comment until he spoke with ACC officials on Monday. An e-mail to university spokesman Larry Hincker was not immediately returned.
One interesting dynamic, however, is that Virginia Tech’s football program has a nonconference home-and-home series scheduled with Pittsburgh in 2012 and 2013. How those games will be affected remains unclear since ACC Commissioner John Swofford said Sunday morning there is no set timetable yet on when Pittsburgh and Syracuse will officially switch from the Big East to the ACC.
There is some precedent, though. Last Saturday, Utah and California played one another in a previously scheduled nonconference game that didn’t count in the league standings even though both are now part of the Pacific-12.
Virginia Tech Coach Frank Beamer will hold his usual weekly teleconference with reporters on Monday. But when asked Saturday about reports of Pittsburgh and Syracuse joining the ACC, he offered no objections.
“I think it’s very obvious things are changing, and you’d better be in the front end of it,” Beamer said