Meet Your New Neighbors: How Louisville Stacks Up Against the ACC

Now That Louisville’s Officially Invited to the ACC, How Do the Cardinals Stack Up to the Rest of the League?

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
Boston College 3-3
Clemson 0-0
Duke 1-0
Florida State 1-10
Georgia Tech 0-0
Maryland 1-3
Miami 1-7
North Carolina 4-3
NC State 2-1
Notre Dame 0-0
Pittsburgh 8-8
Syracuse 6-6
Virginia 1-1
Virginia Tech 2-5
Wake Forest 1-0
All-Time 31-47

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
TEAM Perct. Cap.
Notre Dame 100
Virginia Tech 100
NC State 97.75
Clemson 95.99
Florida State 94.58
North Carolina 88.89
Louisville 88.25
Georgia Tech 87.69
Maryland 82.24
Syracuse 82.22
Wake Forest 81.19
Boston College 80.5
Virginia 77.95
Duke 71.87
Pittsburgh 70.77
Miami 64.94

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
Duke 8
Notre Dame 17
Virginia 24
Wake Forest 25
North Carolina 30
Boston College 31
Georgia Tech 36
Miami 44
Syracuse 58
Maryland 58
Pittsburgh 58
Clemson 68
Virginia Tech 72
Florida State 97
NC State 106
Louisville 160

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.

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6 thoughts on “Meet Your New Neighbors: How Louisville Stacks Up Against the ACC

  1. I think Louisville was easily the best choice. Kind of sucks to be UConn, I suppose … but Louisville has much more history (and success) in football, has better facilities, and to be realistic has been a better basketball program over the long term. Not only that, their athletic department has been more profitable than all of the existing ACC departments despite receiving Big East money.

    Not that this will happen, but if I was the ACC I’d take this opportunity to switch the divisions:

    North-ish (a.k.a. mostly Big East)

    Boston College
    Virginia Tech
    Wake Forest

    South (a.k.a. most of old ACC)

    North Carolina
    NC State
    Georgia Tech
    Florida State

    I’m sure they won’t go for it, because Wake Forest would blow a gasket. But I think it would be the best option, and they’d be some of the most sensible divisions out there. One cross-division rival per school would help preserve some rivalries (and perhaps create some new ones). That plus one other non-division game creates an eight-game conference schedule.

    I’d set these as the cross-division partners:

    Florida State – Miami
    Virginia Tech – Virginia
    BC – Clemson
    Wake Forest – NC State
    Syracuse – Duke
    Pittsburgh – Georgia Tech
    Louisville – North Carolina

    Who knows … maybe they’ll do something intelligent. I’m impressed enough that they picked Louisville instead of UConn.

      • Heh … I put Duke and Syracuse together because I figure they’ll develop quick rivalries in both basketball and lacrosse … so having them as cross-division rivals in football made sense too.

        Pittsburgh – Georgia Tech was one of the last ones I picked because I wasn’t sure what might work. I also considered Louisville – Georgia Tech (uhhh … former Metro Conference rivals?) and Pittsburgh – North Carolina. Not sure if changing any of the others makes sense though.

        Glad you like the plan. It’d be nice to see it happen (and I would have been ok enough with it – at least for football – if Maryland had been included in the northern part if they were still staying).

        • Well, I guess the ACC said that Louisville will just take Maryland’s spot.

          I did like your plan though. I just figured that Pitt-Duke would form a natural rivalry in BBall, due to the clashing styles, plus you’d have the storyline of Jamie Dixon being the ‘young upstart’ coming to take on the Hall of Famer.

    • Like that setup, though I’m not sure how happy four traditional football schools (FSU, Clemson, Georgia Tech, NC State) feel about being in the same division. Already bad enough for the league that three of those four are together, but I know folks at FSU have expressed desire for a more geographic setup to encourage the passionate southern rivalries.

      If we’re changing up the divisions, I like a zipper setup better, personally. So, splitting up the pairs prior to setting up the divisions:

      Syracuse – Boston College
      Pittsburgh – Louisville
      Virginia Tech – Virginia
      Duke – North Carolina
      NC State – Wake Forest
      Clemson – Georgia Tech
      Florida State – Miami

      Competitively, it seems pretty fair. Maybe trade Wake and NC State? I think it works overall, though. Everyone gets trips to Florida. Everyone’s evenly matched up with a natural partner, too.

      • As you alluded to, Florida State is unhappy in part because a lot of its alumni don’t have nearby road games to travel to, and I don’t blame ’em. I think that in many cases, there’s a benefit to having compact divisions – it provides a stronger division identity and makes it easier for fans to understand the setup (not to mention travel to road games).

        I think a zipper division is good under the right circumstances (for example – if the Pac-12 decided to add BYU and Colorado State to its lineup, two 7-team zipper divisions would make perfect sense). But I don’t think it’s the best solution here.

        Historically, it makes more sense to have the pseudo “Big East / ACC” setup. Preserving existing rivalries can help keep fans and teams happy, and it basically works out as a mostly north-south alignment (but still keeping the benefit of everybody playing in Florida every other year). Wake Forest would be irked, although it would still play at least one of its NC neighbors each year, and would also have nearby Virginia Tech as a division rival (VT’s closest in-conference neighbor is actually WFU).

        Competitively, I think that having VT / Miami in one division and Clemson / FSU in the other makes the split work well enough. The rest of the teams all have potential … it’s just a matter of living up to it (which has often been the ACC’s problem).

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