Monday, October 10, 2011

ACC Realignment

The lost children of TCU announced today that the school has decided to continue its wandering ways. The Horned Frogs are reneging on their previous agreement to join the Big East Conference starting next year and are instead taking their long-coveted spot in the Big 12 Conference. They will replace the Texas A&M Aggies who decided to take their injured egos to the Southeastern Conference.

In other recent news from the land of musical chairs in college athletics, the University of Pittsburgh and Syracuse University will be moving from the Big East to the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC). The exact time-frame for the move is still up for negotiation. The move will obviously affect scheduling for all sports as well as result in a change to the divisional alignment for football and possibly other sports.

The simplest solution to the realignment issue would be to add the Pitt Panthers and Syracuse Orange to the existing football divisions which are named the Atlantic and Coastal Divisions. The ACC specifies a permanent rival from the opposite division for each team. In this case, Pittsburgh and Syracuse would become the designated rival for each other. In the chart below, schools in the same row are permanent rivals. I decided to add Pitt to the Coastal Division since it is closer to the far-flung University of Miami. Therefore, Syracuse ended up in the Atlantic Division.

Atlantic Division Coastal Division
Boston College
Clemson
Florida State
Maryland
N. C. State
Wake Forest
Syracuse
Virginia Tech
Georgia Tech
Miami
Virginia
North Carolina
Duke
Pittsburgh

While this lineup is perfectly acceptable, I personally prefer geography-based alignments for sports leagues. Dividing the ACC between northern and southern teams could result in conniptions from the four schools located in North Carolina since the dividing line would result in one of those four schools being isolated in a separate division from the other three. A more interesting solution might be to divide the conference along an east-west dividing line. Going almost strictly by the geographic coordinates of the schools results in divisional alignment below. The University of North Carolina is actually further east (79° 3′ 0″ W) than Pittsburgh (79° 57′ 11.78″ W), but it mostly works.

West Division East Division
Virginia Tech
Wake Forest
North Carolina
Clemson
Georgia Tech
Florida State
Miami
Virginia
N. C. State
Duke
Syracuse
Maryland
Pittsburgh
Boston College

I juggled the permanent rivals a bit. I think the Miami Hurricanes and Boston College should play each other every year. The reason should be obvious. Having the orange-clad Clemson Tigers play the Syracuse Orange every year is just humorous if painful on the eyes.

Another idea for dividing the conference into east and west divisions would be to pair up the teams in the conference and then divide each pair geographically. That would result in the alignment below. The permanent rivals are based on how the teams were paired up.

West Division East Division
Syracuse
Pittsburgh
Virginia Tech
Wake Forest
North Carolina
Georgia Tech
Florida State
Boston College
Maryland
Virginia
N. C. State
Duke
Clemson
Miami

Obviously, quite a large number of alignments are possible. Another suggestion would begin with the current divisional lineups. To placate the four North Carolina schools, Pitt and Syracuse are added to the same division. The two North Carolina schools in that division are moved to the other division. That would result in an uneven number of team in each division, so one other team has to switch divisions. In the alignment below, I added Pitt and Syracuse to the Atlantic Division and moved the N. C. State Wolfpack and Wake Forest Demon Deacons to the Coastal Division. I also switched the Virginia Cavaliers over to the Atlantic Division where they could be matched with the Virginia Tech Hokies as their permanent rival.

Atlantic Division Coastal Division
Virginia
Boston College
Clemson
Florida State
Maryland
Pittsburgh
Syracuse
Virginia Tech
Wake Forest
Georgia Tech
Miami
Duke
North Carolina
N. C. State

This alignment also represents a modified north-south lineup with Clemson and Florida State being in the northern division. This lineup should be more acceptable to the North Carolina schools than a true north-south division. Another suggestion would be to swap Florida State and Virginia Tech. In that case, Clemson would be the odd southern team in the northern division instead of one of the four North Carolina schools.

5 comments:

  1. No way your East-West split passes because you don't have UNC-Duke and NCSU-Wake playing every year. If you put all 4 NC schools in the same division, which I would love, you might as well go straight North/South except Miami to the North. They have to fly to all their games anyway, and this allows them to play all their old Big East rivals every year. FSU can be their permanent rival. Another rival which MUST be protected is the South's oldest rivalry, UNC-Virginia. They can also be permanent rivals.

    North: Maryland, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Miami, Pitt, Syracuse, Boston College

    South: Clemson, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Duke, UNC, NC State, Wake Forest

    Cross-division rivals:
    Maryland-NC State
    Virginia-UNC
    Syracuse-Duke
    Virginia Tech-Clemson
    Boston College-Wake Forest
    Pitt-Georgia Tech
    Miami-FSU

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  2. My first thought was "Whoa! Somebody is visiting my site! That's weird." It's even weirder that it seems they stumbled upon my site from a Google search.

    WFU-NCSU and UNC-Duke are paired as rivals in the first East-West suggestion. They were supposed to be paired the same in the second suggestion. The mismatch is a cut-and-paste error which I will fix shortly. Honestly, I was getting bored with this post by the time I got around to publishing it, so my proofreading was be a bit off.

    I've seen the North+Miami suggestion in other places, so I didn't bother mentioning it here. It makes sense to me. My only thought is if the ACC continues to add teams, the conference could get overloaded like the old WAC. The divisions might eventually break into separate leagues which would basically reform the old ACC and Big East.

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  3. Despite it creating the longest trips for the 'Canes, I'd likely have to concur with the Miami-North scenario as the most fitting. That said, we could see a lot more movement in the coming season before this is all said-and-done. If the SEC decides to keep expanding (which is reasonable, since it's sitting at an uneven 13), Clemson and Florida State have been rumored to be among those possible. So if the ACC loses anyone, it changes the whole setup.

    PS - I found this through Google too. Was looking for a list of upcoming realignment plans and it showed me your blog. :)

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  4. Thanks for stopping by Matthew. I remember hearing or reading somewhere that being in the SEC is considered a recruiting advantage, and the Gamecocks and Gators would be against adding their in-state rivals and giving up that advantage. Also, conference realignment is all about expanding the geographic footprint of the conferences, particularly adding TV markets. Clemson and FSU wouldn't add any territory that South Carolina and Florida don't already cover.

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