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 Scheduling: How Can the ACC Better Position Itself for a Playoff Spot?

Examining Strength of Schedule and What ACC Teams Need to Do to Make the Playoff

Examining Strength of Schedule and What ACC Teams Need to Do to Make the Playoff

As you might’ve noticed earlier today, we linked to a piece from SB Nation’s Team Speed Kills entitled “How Much Will Schedule Strength Affect Playoff Selection?” — which effectively dissects the merits (or lack thereof) of scheduling tougher in order to get a playoff spot. The impetus for such an article, of course, is the flurry of recent news regarding the number of conference games. When announcing its divisional realignment the other day, the Big Ten upped its conference slate to nine games, while the Pac-12 is actually discussing moving down to eight (from the current nine). Even the SEC, which has been with the ACC in the “remain at eight” boat briefly mentioned a nine-game schedule during its SEC Network press conference today. So with two alternatives seemingly on the table again, what scheduling setup makes the most sense for the ACC if it hopes to place its top team(s) in the four-team College Football Playoff?

To start, the ACC obviously has two disadvantages when it comes to pursuing a nine-game conference schedule. One of these — out-of-conference rivalries — is a shared issue with the SEC. The other, unique to the ACC, is the Notre Dame scheduling agreement. As of 2014, at least four ACC schools will have annual in-state matchups with SEC schools on the books, effectively locking them (Clemson, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Louisville) into a ninth game on top of the eight-game conference schedule. The Notre Dame arrangement, which has the Irish playing five ACC games per year, brings that total to 10 for those teams in select years. Those same teams will likely also be at five home games and five road games by that point, making for a less-than-ideal scheduling demand of two guaranteed home dates and little calendar flexibility. If the ACC were to add a ninth game, those teams would be locked into 11 games against major-conference competition, and might also need to take a hit on home games (hosting six total, instead of seven). For schools like FSU and Clemson, it’s a tough financial hit to take, especially without an ACC Network off the ground yet.

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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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2012 ACC Football Season Recap: Virginia Cavaliers

Virginia's 2012 Season Was About as Tumultuous as They Come; But Is There Hope on the Horizon?

Virginia’s 2012 Season Was About as Tumultuous as They Come; But Is There Hope on the Horizon?

Team: Virginia Cavaliers

W-L: 4-8 (2-6)

Postseason: None

Top Offensive Performer: Oday Aboushi, OT

Top Defensive Performer: Steve Greer, LB

Coming off a breakout 2011 season, and another big recruiting class, Mike London’s Virginia team was poised to take the leap in 2012; or so many thought. Rather than progression, what the Hoos saw this past fall was a severe regression. Not only was the team’s win total cut in half when compared to the year before, but a squad that appeared built on continuity was suddenly in a tumultuous state. The Cavaliers’ secondary — as young as expected, took nearly two months to truly get their acts together. The running game, a formidable two-back system, was suddenly as unproductive as they come. And most glaring was the quarterback issue which would shape every narrative for Virginia, from August, all the way through the final, excruciating loss.

One would assume the thought process when bringing in Alabama QB transfer Phillip Sims was that he’d sit this season before taking the reigns in 2013. With returning starter Michael Rocco at the helm, that route seemed to make the most sense — until Sims was granted a waiver allowing him to suit up this season. With a quarterback controversy brewing, Rocco held onto the job, but never quite stopped looking over his shoulder, and the results were mostly hazardous. Thought the UVA passing game would finish a very respectable 37th in the FBS (in terms of yardage), it sorely lacked for efficiency or success. Rocco and Sims combined for 15 interceptions on the season (93rd in the country) and both passers’ accuracy turned out a staggered curve of inconsistency. For each game Rocco would have like the 41-40 upset of Miami (in which he threw for four scores), he’d have another like the 27-7 loss to TCU (126 passing yards, 2 INTs). And with so much riding on quarterback play, the ground game suffered as well. Regularly faced with dire straits, or simply two quarterbacks splitting snaps for the same job, their strong run game was suddenly pass-first. UVA was 98th in the country in both overall carries (417) and yards per game (128.5), and this with two highly skilled backs in Kevin Parks and Perry Jones. While no one would call them a high-flying group in 2011 (23.8 points per game), 2012 was absolutely dreadful from a scoring standpoint (22.8 points per game) — especially without a strong defense to bail them out.

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Conference Realignment: Examining the Effects on Teams After the Move (Part 2)

How Will Syracuse and Pittsburgh Fare Once They Move to the ACC in 2013?

Yesterday we looked at teams who have recently switched conferences to see how well they have fared. We determined that the “big boys” like Nebraska and Texas A&M have done just fine. But some of the other schools who have made “lateral” moves — Colorado, Missouri — have had some difficulty adjusting. Finally, the teams which have “moved up” in competition — West Virginia from the Big East and former “mid-major” teams like Utah and TCU — have struggled with the grind of their new “power conference” schedules.

So, what can Pittsburgh and Syracuse expect next year when they move to the ACC? I don’t think anyone would suggest that the ACC is as big a step up for them as the Big 12 was for West Virginia, but will they expect to struggle for awhile?

To get an idea what to expect, let’s look at the last time a Big East team joined the ACC. In fact, let’s look at the last three, since they all switched in a two-year period: Virginia Tech, Miami, and Boston College.

Oddly enough, VaTech actually performed better after the move. Looking at the seasons just prior to the move, it seems to me that the Hokies were simply in a down year their last season in the Big East. By contrast, Miami declined by one win in-conference and by two wins overall that same year.

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Conference Realignment: Examining the Effects on Teams After the Move (Part 1)

Texas A&M’s Fared Pretty Nicely Since Moving From the Big 12 to the SEC, But Has Every Program Made Out As Well?

There was lots of discussion this spring about teams jumping conferences… Lots of discussion! TCU and West Virginia actually did make the move to the Big 12, and there were rumors about Florida State and Clemson jumping ship as well. But for those who actually changed conferences, was it the right move? From a broader view, how has it worked out in general for teams which have changed conferences in recent years? Can even the best “mid-major” teams survive the so-called “grind” of a major conference schedule?

In the distant past (i.e. before 1990), when a team changed conferences it was generally to join one which was a better academic or geographic fit. Think Georgia Tech leaving the SEC to eventually join the ACC (via independence), or South Carolina doing the reverse. Today it’s a different story. Money generated by athletics has grown to the point where a school will actually consider joining a conference which is further away in order to grab yet more money. Imagine that – major universities motivated by money!

So we’ve seen several teams shift to/from major conferences in the past couple years:

  • Nebraska: from Big 12 to Big Ten
  • Utah: from Mountain West to Pac-12
  • Colorado: from Big 12 to Pac-12
  • Texas A&M: from Big 12 to SEC
  • Missouri: from Big 12 to SEC
  • TCU: from Mountain West (by way of Big East) to Big 12
  • West Virginia: from Big East to Big 12

Obviously there’s a pattern here, as one conference (Big 12) has been involved in the majority of these moves. But I digress…

How did these teams fare after the conference changes, though? To answer that, let’s look at before & after win/loss numbers in-conference and overall:

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Atlantic Coast Convos 2012 Top 25: Week Eight

Notre Dame’s Big Win Over Stanford on Saturday Keeps Them in the National Title Hunt

As is customary, we’ll be bringing you a new take on the top 25 teams in the country each Monday during the regular season. While the top 10 continues to establish itself, the rest of the poll is in relative disarray. Disagree at all? Feel free to share that with us below (respectfully, of course).

Atlantic Coast Convos 2012 Top 25 (Week Eight)

1. Alabama Crimson Tide (6-0) (LW: 1) (First-place votes: 4)

2. Oregon Ducks (6-0) (LW: 2)

3. Florida Gators (6-0) (LW: 7)

4. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (6-0) (LW: 4) (1)

5. Kansas State Wildcats (6-0) (LW: 6)

6. Ohio State Buckeyes (7-0) (LW: 8)

7. Oregon State Beavers (5-0) (LW: 16)

8. South Carolina Gamecocks (6-1) (LW: 3)

9. Oklahoma Sooners (4-1) (LW: 13)

10. LSU Tigers (6-1) (LW: 9)

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