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The Confidential

The ACC Sports Blog

ACC Fans Choice: Notre Dame or West Virginia

The current ACC is 15 schools, one of which is Notre Dame.  Notre Dame participates fully in all sports, with the exception of football.  As we all know, the Fighting Irish are committed to play 5 schools a season in football.  West Virginia is a full member of the Big XII.  The Mountaineers athletic relevance has decreased substantially since making the geographically-unfriendly move.  The question for ACC fans–if West Virginia were to make overtures about joining the ACC… would you rather have West Virginia full-time (allowing an addition of UConn to get to 16 teams) or Notre Dame (in its current form)?

Notre Dame presents a level of football cache that West Virginia does not.  It is an elite football institution.  West Virginia has had significant football success, but Notre Dame is Notre Dame.

On the other hand, Notre Dame’s football schedule peculiarities are such that it is likely a longshot to ever join the ACC full-time.  With commitments to play Navy, USC, and Stanford every season, joining the ACC would limit Notre Dame to one OOC game every year.  This is currently a non-starter.  And if the ACC ever went to 9 conference games, the Fighting Irish would have no flexibility.  In fact, Brian Kelly is already complaining about limited scheduling flexibility.  So Notre Dame simply will not be a full-time member of the ACC any time soon.

West Virginia is obviously a full-time member of the Big XII and would be a full-time member of the ACC.  It is geographically relevant.  It has a rivalry with Pitt, and a substantial history of playing Syracuse, Boston College, and Virginia Tech.  With West Virginia, the ACC could add UConn to get to 16 schools, lending itself to these divisions:

North: Boston College/UConn, Syracuse/Louisville

South: Florida State/Miami, Clemson/Georgia Tech

East: Virginia/Virginia Tech, North Carolina/Duke

West: Wake Forest/North Carolina State, Pittsburgh/West Virginia

The divisions could rotate such that one season is N/S and E/W… the next season N/E and S/W… and then the following season N/W and S/E–allowing rotations through all teams in just three years.  In the future, if 4-team divisions were allowed by the NCAA, the divisions would play each other, plus 2 teams from each other division–alternating teams on either side of the slash each year.  This would allow guaranteed games against a team from New England, Florida, Georgia/SC, Virginia, North Carolina, etc.

The biggest hit, of course, is academically.  West Virginia is no Notre Dame.  UConn is not either.  So that is certainly a move in the wrong direction.  However, West Virginia and UConn are good enough academically to be in one of the five major conferences without question.  Both are likely superior to Louisville academically.

It is plausible that Notre Dame could stay in the ACC as an all-sports–except football–member.  Notre Dame could continue to try to schedule ACC opponents, albeit without commitment.  17 basketball schools is no more or less unwieldy than 15.

But, for now, ignore Notre Dame continuing on in any capacity…what do you think… if you had to choose, would you take the current format or swap Notre Dame’s partial membership for a West Virginia/UConn combination?  Let us know here or on Twitter what you think!

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15 thoughts on “ACC Fans Choice: Notre Dame or West Virginia

  1. The TV $$$ is greater with Notre Dame, especially as a football member, so I would prefer to stay with them. If ND left I would like to see UConn & Cincinnati. IMO Cincy has a lot more to offer than does WV.

  2. At this juncture I see no addition value in WVU or UCONN. You touched on academics which can’t be overlooked as it is a factor, and Kouisville got a pass for being able to provide a solid contributor in the big 3 sports, with football being the biggest question mark of the 3.

    I’m not entirely sure that either school adds anything to the conference footprint in terms of TV rights. People are not clamoring to lock up the Morgantown, WV AND Hartford, CT areas in this regard. ND however is close to Chicago and a national brand, regardless of their on field success. This inherently adds great value, especially when you can advertise marquee games, which the ACC has lacked besides Clemson v. FSU.

    Also when considering the league divisions of a proposed 16 team league w/o ND, geographically it makes sense but not financially. You wouldn’t want to place arguably your top 3 football schools (can argue UM isn’t) in the same grouping. You want to maximize these teams opportunity to play each other late in the year, in conference championship games. This increases the ACC brand, and is why UM and FSU are in opposite divisions as if today. They originally envisioned plenty of conference championship games between those two.

    ND football will never be a full time member and that’s okay. Until another arms race begins, no reason to stir the pot, no need to inflate the league with schools who add minimal value both academically and athletically.
    /end rant

  3. Any talk of expansion, especially one including West Virginia, always makes me wonder how the landscape would look if the ACC hadn’t rejected the Mountaineers in 1953. What if the league had invited not only Virginia, but also West Virginia and Virginia Tech to round out the conference? (who was also rejected at the time) My guess is we’d still have an ACC with South Carolina and Maryland. We’d also be probably looking at an SEC that would have been forced to go west earlier (possibly inviting a Texas school when they invited the Gamecocks), and a Big East football conference still intact with Syracuse, Boston College and Uconn heading it up (and possibly Miami if the ACC had stayed at 10). What do you guys think? Is this something you would have preferred, or are you glad things turned out the way that they did?

  4. OB-1 on said:

    UConn is a one sport pony, football has never been that good. Stay with ND and try to pull Texas in also

  5. M. Caffrey on said:

    Notre Dame and Navy (instead of UConn). That solves one of ND’s scheduling issues, especially if the ACC allows conference games to count as OOC.

  6. IMO, neither WVU nor UConn add any value to the ACC. WVU would only take away players who would’ve gone to Pitt, VT or Miami. UConn would take players from BC and Syracuse. It’s a zero sum game adding those 2.

    Notre Dame is a no-brainer – take ’em if/when they are ready to dive in. Navy would not be able to compete at the ACC level, so no to them. Next best option for #16 is Cincinnati, with Temple, Memphis, Tulane and UCF as dark-horse candidates… IMO.

    • M. Caffrey on said:

      I’ll give you UCF – the Orlando market would be big for the ACC and it can add another FL school. Cinci also makes sense, but only if they agree to fire Mick Cronin.

      I’m curious why you would consider Temple, Memphis or Tulane to be “ACC level” and not Navy.

      In the past 10 years, Navy has been to more bowl games than those three schools combined.

      With the loss of MD, the ACC needs to re-secure the BAWA market. Navy will add the mid-atlantic and also can add a national brand.

  7. I say stick with ND. The brand name recognition is enough to justify ND. Also, we already have scheduling controversies brewing between the schools who play an SEC opponent in-state versus those who do not. i.e. 8 or 9 conference games. A 16 team conference would be completely unwieldy. If ND, which I doubt, ever came to the ACC and said, we are all in, then let them name the 16th team.

  8. John In South Carolina on said:

    You must be nuts. I would never even have thought of taking WVU over Notre Dame in their present arrangement. You need to attend a home football game at WVU to fully understand why they should not be allowed in the ACC. As for a sixteenth member when Notre Dame finally joins in football, I would go with Cincinnati over UConn. They are a better fit and would give the ACC a presence in Ohio. This would complete the intersection of the ACC and the Big Ten and would help counter the Maryland defection.

  9. Greg Hahn on said:

    I agree with John in SC on all points. Games in Morgantown are really bad- they get drunk and throw D-cells. And if they win they burn couches in the streets. And I far prefer Cincy over UCONN. Cincy is a long rival of the Ville and only 90 miles away.

    Also, for what it’s worth, putting WVU in the north and Louisville in the west would make far more geographic sense, as Louisville is both south and west of Morgantown.

    Better divisions:

    North: Boston College/Syracuse Pittsburgh/West Virginia

    South: Florida State/Miami, Clemson/Georgia Tech

    East: Virginia/Virginia Tech, North Carolina/Duke

    West: Wake Forest/North Carolina State, Cincy/ Louisville

    That still makes the south bracket too football-heavy. And I’d rather have ND than WVU. But given the teams above, I think those are good divisions.

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  11. Essel on said:

    Uconn is going to the BIG in a few years or staying in AAC. They are good at everything besides football (although Pitt, Syracuse, BC, UNC, and almost everyone else is not great either) and it will take some time for it to catch on (if it ever does).

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