As you know by now, the ACC has added Louisville — formerly of the Big East — as its 15th member. And while it’s certainly a positive outcome for the conference and the school, admittedly, neither are all that familiar with each other on the football field. First and foremost, we look at the school’s W-L record against each member of the ACC (including Maryland, despite the fact that the Terps will be gone when Louisville joins).
|Louisville vs. ACC|
Surprising to see just 78 games all-time between Louisville and its new conference-mates — and just 50 when you exclude the matchups against Pitt and Syracuse, who currently play against them annually in the Big East. At the onset, we can expect to see the Cardinals find easy football rivalries with the aforementioned Panthers and Orange, while Clemson, Miami and NC State all seem like natural rivalries, depending on the divisional setup.
Having a successful football program wasn’t the only part of the equation, however. Louisville’s also displayed an impressive, impassioned amount of fan support, which certainly carried weight with the other “football schools” such as Clemson, Virginia Tech and Florida State. A look at home attendance in terms of accumulated percentage of stadium capacity, as officially compiled by the NCAA, from the 2011 football season:
|Attendance: Accumulated Percentage of Capacity|
As you’ll notice, Louisville ranked in the top half of the league even during a 7-6 campaign. This year’s numbers currently come out to 92.23 percent of capacity in six home games; a figure drastically weighed down by their matchup against Temple, which only drew 44,000 or so fans.
Finally, we’ll take a quick look at the very inexact and sometimes inaccurate U.S. News & World Report rankings for 2012. While I won’t put a ton of stock into these numbers (really, does it matter if you’re ranked 31st or 32nd?), these figures have been part of the overall discussion amongst fans and the conference administrators, and it’s worth looking at how it all shakes out.
|U.S. News & World Report Rankings, 2012|
Again, these numbers have been regularly criticized for years, since it’s hard to necessarily quantify the difference between 68 and 72, and the average student experience is also vastly different from that of the student-athlete at any of these institutions. Louisville, as we’ve noted before, has also made great strides in improving this number, and its further investment on the academic side will only prove to strengthen them in the long-run.
For those who think the ACC compromised itself to add Louisville, it’s time to wake up and look around the realignment landscape. The concept of “fit” no longer exists, and no conference can isolate itself from the effects of the shifting world of big-time athletics, no matter how hard it tries. The ACC may have been able to remain insulated and play the offensive for the past decade, but times have changed. For once, they made a growth move, and I for one, believe it will work out by every measure.