In the long, long term, the south is the future of the US. The population shift southward might be attractive to PSU.
But, I just don't buy the myth that PSU alumni have any interest in the ACC. I've lived all over the southeast, and in NOVA for over a decade. I must have been acquainted with dozens of PSU alumni, and none have ever said anything but the Big Ten is the best conference in the country. It's almost mantra with them. One partner (PSU alum) I worked for in NOVA sent his kid to Indiana for undergrad, and said to me: "it's a Big Ten school - topnotch". He could have sent his kid to VT for 1/2 the cost, in-state, but who am I to tell him where to send his kid?
IMO, PSU is not a good fit for the ACC, other than geographically. It's a massive public research university with an undergrad enrollment of over 30,000, of which the ACC has NONE, and the Big Ten has seven. Average research spending in the Big Ten is not twice that of the ACC, but it's close. The Big Ten is quite simply out of our league.
And lastly, this business of Penn State being an 'eastern' school in a midwestern conference ignores the fact that the ACC is a southeastern conference. 3/4 of our membership is south of the Mason-Dixon line; do you think a school full of Pennsylvanians has more in common with ACC alumni than midwesterners? I see no evidence of that.
Two of my good friends are PSU graduates (one was a OL starter in the early-mid 1970's) and both like being in the Big 10. Both have said that they wouldn't mind being in the ACC but they believe the Big 10 is a good fit for them academically and athletically.
As for your question about Pennsylvanians having more in common with the ACC than the Midwest. considering that hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians have moved below the Mason-Dixon Line to fine work and start new lives, I would say yes. Many PSU graduates move to the Baltimore-DC area and many more move to Virginia, the Carolinas, Georgia, and Florida. If you live in western PA, the South is more attractive than Ohio or Michigan job-wise. Eastern Pennsylvanians have more relatives in the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast than they do in the Midwest. A place like Newport News is loaded with westerrn Pennsylvanians who left the shut downed steel mills to work in the shipyards. The Baltimore-DC area is filled with Pennsylvania transplants who still live close enough (1 to 3 hour drives) to regularly visit family back home. There are many college students from the state of Maryland that attend PSU. Even the rural county that I grew up in southern Virginia had hundreds of Pennsylvanians who moved there to retire or find a place with lower taxes and jobs. My first job was with a Pennsylvanian who bought a business in Virginia. Maybe 30 or more years ago things may have been different, but the Southeast isn't the Southeast it was back in the 1950's, 1960's, and 1970's. Some may not want to hear it, but parts of Virginia have become less southern over the past decades. Northern Virginia has more in common with Pennsylvania than it does with southern and southwestern Virginia. So just from my experience and living 30 minutes below the Mason-Dixon Line, I would say that Pennsylvanians relate more to the Southeast (especially, MD, DE, DC, VA, and NC) than they do to the Midwest.
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