A favorite topic of offseason discussion every Summer it seems is conference realignment. The prevailing opinion at this point is that, while the ACC will likely survive, the Big XII will eventually be absorbed into the other power conferences. However, due to geography, most people have doubts that the ACC would be in a position to take in more than one Big XII team - namely, West Virginia.
So then, what might the ACC look like in its final configuration? About three weeks ago I examined this question on ACCFootballRx [see ACC Endgame]. Since then I’ve gotten some interesting suggestions which I’d like to consider here as well.
First, in my initial article, I assumed that once the Big XII was dissolved there would be a “champs only” playoff model - at which point Notre Dame is all-in. That leaves one spot for the one Big XII team in the ACC footprint: West Virginia.
How would the divisions line up at that point? If we assume the conference tosses out those crazy Atlantic / Coastal divisions and goes more Old ACC / Old Big East, we might see something like this:
(Don’t worry about cross-over games - there would only be two: Virginia / Virginia Tech and Florida State / Miami).
This is a kind of “getting the band back together” alignment for us fans of former Big East teams, and it would restore some great rivalries, such as
Pitt vs. Boston College, West Virginia
Virginia Tech vs. Syracuse, West Virginia, Louisville
Boston College vs. Pitt, Miami, West Virginia
Syracuse vs. Virginia Tech, Miami, West Virginia
In addition, with Notre Dame all in, they would play teams like Pitt and Boston College even more regularly than the current alignment allows.
For fans living in the Mid-Atlantic states, those are some great rivalries restored which would be welcomed with open arms!
However, some have commented that they just don’t think there will ever be a scenario which results in Notre Dame joining the ACC for football... it just isn’t going to happen (or so they say). If true, what else could the ACC do to keep up with the SEC and the Big Ten?
Another alternative which I have examined on ACCFootballRx is the possibility of adding Texas - either as a partial, or along with one or more other Texas teams [see Longhorns and Texas Expansion]. In this scenario, the ACC would add Texas (possibly as a partial member), along with TCU and possibly Houston as well.
This expansion could possibly lead to a North / South division split, like this:
Even this would restore the BC / Pitt game, as well as create some good and very drive-able games between Pitt / Louisville / Virginia Tech. For recruiting purposes something would have to be done to insure annual games in either Florida, Georgia, or Texas for all North division teams - but that really isn’t difficult to do. The league could even sweeten the pot by giving North division teams preferential treatment when scheduling Notre Dame (maybe making that game come around more often for North teams - say every other year instead of every three years).
BOTTOM LINE: Realignment is likely not over, and as long as the Big Ten is looking to add more teams it behooves the ACC to be proactive and make sure the conference is not boxed in - like it was to some extent when the Big Ten acquired Maryland and Rutgers. However, I believe that as long as expansion options exist - whether regional, like West Virginia and Notre Dame, or into the #1 football state - Texas - the ACC should be able to keep up with the Big Ten and the SEC long-term.
What are your thoughts? Would you prefer a West Virginia/Notre Dame expansion, a Texas/TCU expansion, or stay with 14.5 teams?