The Confidential

The ACC Sports Blog

ACC Divisional Breakdowns After Expansion

Much has been written or discussed regarding the anticipated divisional breakdowns in the ACC after Syracuse and Pittsburgh are added.  While the Confidential appreciates that the football-elite schools in the Southern portion of the ACC would want to avoid a geographic division, the Confidential believes that there are numerous reasons why a straight geographical breakdown is prudent.

When the Confidential discusses a geographically based breakdown, this is what the Confidential actually envisions:

  • ACC North: Boston College, Syracuse, Pittsburgh, Maryland, Virginia, Virginia Tech, and Miami
  • ACC South: Duke, Wake Forest, Georgia Tech, North Carolina State, North Carolina, Clemson, and Florida State.

Inherent in that process is that, for football, the teams would have “locked-in” rivalries against the team directly above/below in the standings.  This would allow Miami to play Florida State every year and maintain the North Carolina-Virginia rivalry.  With a 9-game conference schedule, that would allow 2 other cross-divisional games.  With 8 games, perhaps there could be some rotation of the cross-over game to allow some variety.

The Confidential anticipates that some will argue that these divisions are not adequately balanced.  How so?  Regardless of the pedigree of Clemson and Florida State, it is Virginia Tech that has carried the ACC flag in BCS games.  Moreover, the ACC Championship game will settle it on the field.

Also, who can say what division in a conference is going to be better?  A few years ago, the SEC East was the powerhouse, with Florida, Tennessee, and Georgia.  Now?  It is the West with LSU, Alabama, and Auburn.  These things are cyclical.

More importantly, let’s say the ACC South is way better than the North.  That just means that the winner of the South will have that much better of a strength of schedule and be appropriately battle-tested for its bowl game.  With a 2-15 record in BCS games, the ACC needs to start caring about BCS bowl-performance.

The other good thing about this division is that it is logical.  Miami has terrible attendance anyway and, as a private school, lacks the graduate bank to fill-up road stadiums.  Plus, with its Big East history, games against its former Big East foes will be logical draws.  Plus, the northern schools have ample Florida retirees to contribute to the attendance at Miami games.  And it is a destination.  If you are living in Boston or New York, a road Miami game is a vacation (perhaps even from the snow).  If you live in Atlanta?  Not quite as much.

But above all else, such as division makes logical sense.  A fan in California or Idaho or Minnesota will be able to easily tell which team belongs in what division.  Quick–are Penn State and Michigan in the same Big 10 division?  You don’t know.  Because it is not geographically based.  While ACC fans may be able to remember who is Atlantic or Coastal, the rest of the country cannot and will not keep track of it.  No need to make it confusing.

Such a division also ensures that the neighboring rivalries are preserved.  Why prevent Maryland, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, and Boston College from playing each other every year?  Historically, these teams played each other quite a bit.  You do not need to create these rivalries–merely resurrect them.  And what is more likely–a Pittsburgh fan driving to Syracuse or Maryland… or a Pittsburgh fan driving to North Carolina State?

In any event, the Confidential challenges anyone to explain why this system would not be better than the proposal to just plop Syracuse and Pittsburgh into one of the Atlantic or Coastal divisions already in place.  Go for it.



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