Rewriting Conference Realignment History

What if the Syracuse Orange Had Joined Rival Boston College in the ACC's First Round of Expansion?

What if Syracuse Had Joined Rival Boston College in the ACC’s First Round of Expansion?

If you’ve checked out today’s daily links, you’ve likely noticed the top story from Syracuse.com, with regard to a little revisionist realignment history. The piece, “Syracuse is About to Join the ACC, But What if SU Had Made the Move 10 Years Ago?” enlists a variety of folks to take a look at what might have been if Syracuse had left the Big East for the ACC along with Boston College and Miami, as originally planned. It’s a very worthwhile read, though I did want to dive a bit deeper into some of the points, and bring up a few points of contention as well. Again, definitely enjoyed the article, but I do think some of the decisions seem to forget the timeline of all these things and the motivations of certain leagues, in particular. Taking a look at their timeline…

Move 1: Boston College, Miami and Syracuse depart Big East for ACC (2004)

No qualms here — obviously this is the decision that gets the ball rolling.

Move 2: Virginia Tech departs Big East for SEC (undetermined)

Unsure when this move takes place, but I’d venture to guess not immediately after the first round of expansion above. The further away from that point in time we get, I’d agree, the more likely this happens. Though I’d also bet that if it hadn’t happened by about 2010 or so, the Hokies end up in the ACC.

Move 3: Texas A&M departs Big 12 for SEC (2010)

This almost happened in real life, and would end up coming to fruition a year later anyway. No surprise here.

Move 4: Missouri departs Big 12 for Big Ten (2010)

… And here’s where I bring up an issue. The dominoes started falling in 2010 when the Big Ten announced they were searching for a 12th member. I’d bet that even in this revised timeline, that’s still the case, meaning they’d get to move first. Their target was always Nebraska, and despite multiple overtures by Missouri, the Big Ten’s continually said no. So I’d probably adjust this to reflect the Huskers heading up to the B1G, instead of the Tigers.

Move 5: Texas and Oklahoma depart Big 12 for Pac-10 (2010)

Here’s another one where I’m at least partially confused. We all remember the first version of “OMG Pac-16!!!” but this hypothetical seems to forget the rest of it. Texas and Oklahoma weren’t going anywhere without Texas Tech and Oklahoma State. And what the hell happens to Colorado here? We never find out. I’m fine with hypotheticals — this is a college football blog after all — but I think the real-life motivations need to be accounted for with these moves. It also ignores the inherent issue the Pac-10/12 has with Texas: the Longhorn Network.

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ACC Football Chat: Discussing Non-Conference Rivals and the Evolving Recruiting Landscape

Florida and Miami Have No Intentions on Renewing Their Rivalry Past 2013

Florida and Miami Have No Intentions on Renewing Their Gridiron Rivalry Past 2013

Earlier in the week, our own Hokie Mark started up a conversation surrounding three- and four-way rivalries over on SB Nation’s Every Day Should Be Saturday. The basics: there are several three-way rivalries being played out this season, and some of them are going away for a long time after that. Some due to disinterest, others due to scheduling. But what Mark was getting at was the unique setup for three- and four-way rivalries, and which are some of the most- and least-heralded in the country.

Of course, this turned into a jumping-off point for an email conversation between he and I, which I’ve compiled below for everyone. While the main topic focused on non-conference rivals, we also branched out into what’s become an increasingly year-round discussion for everyone: recruiting. Check it out:

Mark: Hello again, John! Only 100 days until the football season begins — a very special one for Syracuse and Pittsburgh, to be sure. For the Orange, the season essentially begins and ends with old rivals: Penn State and Boston College. How do you feel about renewing those rivalries, and are there other rivalries for ‘Cuse that you’d like to see reawakened?

John: I’m about as excited as you can get, considering we’re still about 100 days out. Rekindling the rivalry with Boston College has been one of my favorite aspects of the ACC move, since it easily addresses our crisis of football identity (though much of the media doesn’t think so). Penn State, while arguably our oldest and most storied rival, hasn’t filled that role in over 20 years. It’s nice to play them when we can, but I think most fans have kind of moved on from the Nittany Lions — especially those of us who aren’t old enough to remember when SU and PSU were rivals to begin with.

As far as other rivalries worth rekindling, only two come to mind, and one’s not necessarily a “rivalry” at all. West Virginia‘s always been among our most-hated opponents, and with Syracuse beating the Mountaineers the last three times out (including last December’s Pinstripe Bowl), it’s only created a more hostile tension between the two fan bases. I was at the game in December, and ‘Neers fans were not what you would call “friendly” toward the Orange contingent, by any means. The other aforementioned opponent was Virginia Tech. While never traditionally considered one of Syracuse’s rivals, the Hokies and SU played plenty of heated games toward the latter years of the original Big East football conference that are worth rehashing. Of course, the ACC’s divisional setup won’t do much to help us play Tech more often, so that one’s also kind of off the table.

What about you, from a VaTech perspective? Any rivalries you’d like to start back up — feasible or not? Have any ill will left toward Syracuse from the Big East days?

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Could a Scheduling Alliance Between the ACC, Big 12 and Notre Dame Truly Work?

Under Further Discussion: Is an Alliance Between Notre Dame, the ACC and Big 12 Viable?

Under Further Discussion: Is an Alliance Between Notre Dame, the ACC and Big 12 Viable?

Last week, our own Hokie Mark put together an article on his site, ACCFootballRx, taking a look at how a scheduling agreement between the ACC, Big 12 and Notre Dame could conceivably work out. While he does a great job of laying out the specifics, he and I also carried the conversation over to email afterward, to discuss the issue a bit more. In particular, we dove into Notre Dame’s willingness to participate, notes on television deals and West Virginia‘s desires in this proposed situation.

John: First and foremost, would Notre Dame want to partner with the Big 12 as a whole? I get the feeling they’d prefer to keep their primary opponents, five ACC teams and then have the flexibility to schedule the Big 12′s elite teams like Texas and Oklahoma.

Mark: I agree.  That’s why I said I think this would have to fall somewhere between “rotating through all of the teams” and “just play the made-for-TV matchups.” I could see Notre Dame giving the Big 12 a list of teams they’d agree to play, which might look like this: Texas, Baylor, TCU, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State. (They’d leave out Kansas, Kansas State, Iowa State and West Virginia, in my opinion).

That may not go over so well with the four left out, but consider this: (1) WVU is more interested in the ACC scheduling part anyway, so skipping Notre Dame is probably fine with them; (2) Kansas, K-State and Iowa State are just happy to be in a BCS/power conference; (3) at any rate, that creates a 6-4 vote in favor of the deal.

John: Doesn’t the Big 12 need a two-thirds majority for critical decisions? (I thought that was the case, anyway) I mostly agree with your assessments of teams, though I’m not sure Baylor gets lumped in with the other five. Also agree that KU, KSU and ISU are all off the table; plus there’s no way Notre Dame’s scheduling (former head coach) Charlie Weis any time soon.

What kind of impact could we potentially see in terms of television contracts? How much would Notre Dame’s go up by? And each conference’s deals? Would this also put FOX into the bidding (along with ESPN and NBC) for Notre Dame’s contract that expires after 2014?

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College Football 2012 Offensive Scoring Efficiency Ratings

Oregon's Offense Was High-Powered in 2012, But Was It Efficient?

Oregon’s Offense Was High-Powered in 2012, But Did It Score More Efficiently Than Others?

Over the past two weeks, I’ve been tossing around an idea: what does scoring efficiency look like for every college football team, and does that also correlate to victories? Admittedly, it’s not overly complicated, but nonetheless, certainly took a good deal of number crunching (aka, simple math) to come up with some figures. Additionally, while putting this all together, I thought it would be interesting to see if teams that ran or passed the ball more saw a higher scoring efficiency rate, higher win total or both.

You can feel free to peruse the full data set for all 124 FBS schools here (color-coded for conference affiliation) in this handy Google doc. Included are the total offensive plays run during the 2012 season, total points scored, the efficiency rating (we’ll discuss below), run percentage, pass percentage and total victories.

The crux of this exercise is the scoring efficiency metric, which is actually a pretty simple points-scored-per-play figure. Basically, we’re assuming that efficiency is scoring more points in less plays, while inefficiency is scoring less points in more plays. With that definition in mind, the top 10 most efficient scoring offenses were as follows:

SCHOOL PLAYS POINTS EFF.
Oregon 1059 645 0.609065156
Alabama 898 542 0.603563474
Kansas State 841 505 0.600475624
Louisiana Tech 1054 618 0.586337761
Oklahoma State 1014 594 0.585798817
Florida State 941 550 0.584484591
Georgia 924 529 0.572510823
Texas A&M 1025 578 0.563902439
North Carolina 898 487 0.542316258
Baylor 1072 578 0.539179104

Not a whole lot of surprise here. Some of the nation’s most highly regarded offenses (Oregon, Texas A&M, Baylor, Louisiana Tech) are all present, though admittedly, I’m a bit surprised to see Florida State and Georgia. While I wouldn’t exactly call Alabama an offensive machine, the have a knack for brutal efficiency in every aspect of the game, so it should not come as a shock to see them listed right under the Ducks’ attack, despite running 150 less plays in one more game than Oregon. Also of note, every one of these teams tallied at least eight wins last season, and six had 11 or more. In fact, when looking at the full, sorted efficiency list, the first 25 schools all had at least seven wins on the season, with the first losing team being no. 26, Tennessee (AIR IT OUT, TYLER BRAY!)

And what about the least efficient scoring teams in the country? Your bottom 10:

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Conference Realignment: Which FCS Programs Could Be Next to Upgrade to the FBS?

Appalachian State Is Headed to the Sun Belt With Georgia Southern; Which FCS Schools Could Be Next to Upgrade?

Appalachian State Is Headed to the Sun Belt Conference Along With Georgia Southern; Which FCS Schools Could Be Next to Upgrade?

Schools are upgrading their football programs at a rapid pace. By 2015, 129 full members will be participating in FBS-level competition, up from 120 in 2012. That’s a 7.5-percent increase in just three years. And yet, there’s still plenty of talk about adding more schools to college football’s top tier too. While the ACC’s not jumping to add any of these schools, it’s not out of the question that this shuffling could eventually affect the sport’s top conferences – as top teams from football’s “mid-majors” look to upgrade their competition and move into the “Power Five.”

First, a recap of the recent moves from FCS to FBS:

2009: Western Kentucky (Sun Belt)

2013: South Alabama (Sun Belt), Texas State (Sun Belt), UT-San Antonio (Conference USA), UMass (MAC)

2014: Georgia State (Sun Belt)

2015: Appalachian State (Sun Belt), Charlotte (Conference USA), Georgia Southern (Sun Belt), Old Dominion (Conference USA) (*Appalachian State and Georgia Southern moves just reported today, via SB Nation)

And there’s still more schools that could potentially make the call. But who are they? Well, first a look at the basic eligibility requirements to move up to FBS from FCS (from the NCAA):

  1. Sponsor a minimum of 16 varsity intercollegiate sports, including football, based on the minimum sports sponsorship and scheduling requirements set forth in Bylaw 20. Sponsorship shall include a minimum six sports involving all male teams or mixed teams (males and females), and a minimum of eight varsity intercollegiate teams involving all female teams. Institutions may use up to two emerging sports to satisfy the required eight varsity intercollegiate sports involving all female teams. [Bylaw 20.9.7.1]

  2. Schedule and play at least 60 percent of its football contests against members of Football Bowl Subdivision. Institutions shall schedule and play at least five regular season home contests against Football Bowl Subdivision opponents. [Bylaw 20.9.7.2]

  3. Average at least 15,000 in actual or paid attendance for all home football contests over a rolling two-year period. [Bylaw 20.9.7.3]

  4. Provide an average of at least 90 percent of the permissible maximum number of overall football grants-in-aid per year over a rolling two-year period. [Bylaw 20.9.7.4-(a)]

  5. Annually offer a minimum of 200 athletics grants-in-aid or expend at least four million dollars on grants-in-aid to student-athletes in athletics programs. [Bylaw 20.9.7.4-(b)]

Obviously, the second bullet is taken care of with the commitment to upgrade the program and the final two can easily be attained by just reaching those scholarship numbers. As far as item no. 1 and no. 3 though, the following schools would qualify for an FCS-to-FBS upgrade:

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Conference Realignment Rumors: Georgia Tech Next ACC School Head to Big Ten?

Rumors Are Going Around That Georgia Tech May Be Next on the Big Ten's Expansion Hit List

Rumors Are Going Around That Georgia Tech May Be Next on the Big Ten’s Expansion Hit List

The conference realignment carousel never ends. And now, it could potentially have a negative effect on the ACC for the second time in the last few weeks, as there are rumors that Georgia Tech may be headed off to the Big Ten as well, joining Maryland.

What started out as some message board chatter, has seemingly gained some actual legs amongst legitimate sources. I saw some of the talk last night, however, was waiting for some legitimate sources to weigh in on the action. And then not too long ago, SB Nation’s Land Grant Holy Land (Ohio State site) posted this:

Report: Georgia Tech Approved by Big Ten to Become 15th Member

So yeah, this is a bit terrifying. And that the story is now gaining ground in some more reputable sources is a bad sign for the ACC. Of course, the Land Grant Holy Land story isn’t completely sold either (a good thing). As author Luke Zimmerman says:

Besides the most interesting subtext (like, for one, how do all these guys from areas with little to nothing to do with the Big Ten have so many midwest athletics sources?), the other is why the league would move so soon with Maryland’s legal battle with the ACC not even coming to a head yet. While I imagine the exit fees will get negotiated down out of court to something in the $20-25 million dollar range, even $50 million would be a lot for the Big Ten to ostensibly front for the likes of Maryland and Georgia Tech.”

And I’d echo those thoughts. Given the legal battle going on with Maryland, why would Georgia Tech leave now? Their names are on the lawsuit. By endorsing the suit, they endorse the league’s right to pursue that money. I’d also note that while ZImmerman believes the fees could be negotiated down, I’m tempted to think the ACC isn’t budging — especially if it ends up being both teams.

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ACC Football 2012 Previews & Predictions: Week Four (Part One)

Will Clemson’s Sammy Watkins Be Able to Outrun Florida State in Primetime on Saturday?

For the first time since 2009 (at Boston College), an ACC school will play host to ESPN’s College Gameday, when the guys set up shop in Tallahassee this weekend. It’s a big day for the conference, as it continues its uphill PR battle, and the atmosphere shouldn’t disappoint. We’ve got our predictions for Saturday below. Plus, if you’re looking for a full rundown of the television schedule, consult our handy viewing guide from Wednesday.

Game of the Week

Clemson Tigers (3-0) (0-0) at Florida State Seminoles (3-0) (1-0): Amidst the lights, sights and sounds of College Gameday, two top-ten ACC teams will play for both individual and collective respect. Win big, and the victor here gets an infinite amount of respect thrown their way (especially in the case of Clemson). For the loser, it’s a case of “I told you so.” Florida State’s defense is as staunch as they come, giving up just three points over its first three contests. However, you can never count out the Tigers’ high-powered offense, especially with the return of play-making receiver Sammy Watkins. It will be a closer matchup than the aggressive two-TD line suggests, but FSU will win the battle at the line of scrimmage, ultimately setting the stage for a big win on national television. Prediction: Florida St. 26, Clemson 20

The Rest of the Slate (in order of start time):

Bowling Green Falcons (1-2) at Virginia Tech Hokies (2-1) (0-0): The Hokies are reeling after struggling mightily to put up points against Pittsburgh on Saturday, in a surprising upset. Not only have the questions on offense lingered and even increased as the season’s progressed, but now the defense (its strong point) looks to be embattled as well. Their opponent this week, Bowling Green, is in a similar mess. Scoring under 17 points per game, the Falcons have been unable to generate offensive momentum against lesser opponents. This may be just the solution Logan Thomas and VPI needed, as they roll, and get back on track. Prediction: Virginia Tech 31, Bowling Green 3

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