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!