GLENDALE, Ariz. – This is going to go completely against the grain, because everything that has happened in college athletics over the past decade – from the insanity of conference realignment to the even more insane amount of money that’s being thrown around – has been centered exclusively around football.

But at a time in which the ACC is battling to stay out front of both a negative national perception and the grim reaper, maybe it’s time for the league to stop chasing its tail and get back to its roots. And start concentrating on doing what it has always done best.

Playing basketball. Ideally, as well as UConn, which just repeated as national champion Monday night for its 6th NCAA championship in the past 25 years. UConn, by the way, has posted 12 consecutive losing seasons as a Group of 5 football team and has never appeared in the final AP poll.

Nevertheless, the Huskies are the undisputed king of college basketball — the perfect example that a basketball-first mentality still works.

Basketball, after all, is the sport that has provided the ACC with its identity since its inception in 1953, providing us with such celebrated traditions as cutting down nets to celebrate championships, postseason conference tournaments, pointing to the passer and Midnight Madness.

It has originated popular phrases such as “Survive and Advance” and Tobacco Road – the inspiration for this site’s name – while producing some of the greatest players and most colorful coaches the game has ever known.

Expansion has watered down the product somewhat, for sure. That doesn’t change the fact that the ACC still has a place among the nation’s elite. No matter what internet trolls want you to believe.

That’s not just an opinion. There are receipts to back up the claim.

The ACC has 19 Final Four participants since 2000 — the most of any conference. Two ahead of the Big Ten. Four more than the Big East. And blue-bloods North Carolina and Duke aren’t the only ones doing the heavy lifting.

Virginia, Miami and now NC State have also made it to the pinnacle of the college game during that span. Three of them, actually 4 if you count former member Maryland, have combined to win 8 of the past 23 national championships.

Although the league didn’t add to that total this year with the Wolfpack losing to Purdue in the national semifinals, the ACC’s 5 representatives in the NCAA Tournament still managed to combine for the most tournament wins and the most teams into the Sweet 16 while compiling a 12-5 record.

Despite getting fewer bids than any other power conference.

The point here is that the ACC can still hoop with the best of them. That’s more than can be said for its level of competitiveness in football.

Let’s face it, with the exception of only a few Clemson and Florida State teams here and there, the ACC has never come close to matching the talent, skill and depth of the SEC. And the gap is only going to widen as the disparity in revenue between the conferences – and the Big Ten, as well – continues to grow.

If the Seminoles getting snubbed by a College Football Playoff committee chaired by an ACC athletic director wasn’t enough of a sign that something is amiss, then the latest proposal for the newly expanded 12-team postseason tournament certainly should be.

Under the plan, the ACC would receive a smaller payout and fewer guaranteed bids than either the SEC or Big Ten. By accepting such a format, the league would be publicly acknowledging its status as a 2nd-tier league.

And yet, the ACC continues to act as if it’s an actual member of the most exclusive club in town, when in reality it’s only being allowed through the gates to serve drinks to the rich guys at the bar.

That’s why unless commissioner Jim Phillips can pull off a Hail Mary by convincing Notre Dame to finally give up its beloved independent status and enter the fold, the conference would be better off cutting its losses, staying in its own lane and devoting all its resources to an alternate strategy.

One that makes basketball the top priority. Like the Big East. Like UConn.

We’re not talking about going full Big East and abandoning football altogether at some schools. Just allow disgruntled litigants FSU and Clemson, the only 2 member schools at which football really matters, to go free and try to find better deals on their own. Assuming there are any out there to be had.

If they choose to the almighty dollar over a clearer path into the Playoff, their exit fees would be enough to help the remaining schools maintain at least a certain level of competitiveness on the gridiron while allowing them to escape an arms race that shows no signs of slowing down.

Those programs could then finally stop chasing the mythical unicorn of a football national championship and start devoting a larger portion of their resources toward a title they’d realistically have a prayer of winning. It’s a prospect that should be especially appealing to traditional basketball schools UNC, Duke, State, Virginia and Syracuse.

It’s a controversial notion, one that wouldn’t go over well with a segment of some schools’ fan bases. But there’s a reason McDonald’s should never sell pizza and Papa John’s should steer clear of tacos.

Identify what you do best and put all your energy into being the best at it. And no one has done basketball as well either then or now, than the ACC.