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, 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.

Move 6: Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State and Nebraska depart Big 12 for Big East (2010)

Tying back to my point on move 4, they lose me here. I remember those days when the Big 12 was teetering on the edge. And I certainly remember the plan for the Big East to take on ISU, KU, KSU and Missouri. But I’d find it tough to believe that Nebraska would’ve been in this spot, partially because we all know they’d be in the Big Ten, and partially because they’d never have joined the Big East. I have a feeling Nebraska would’ve gone independent before even considering the Big East, or perhaps they even join the hypothetical Pac-whatever situation above with Texas and Oklahoma? Also, is the Big East really in a position to add these teams according to this timeline? With Va. Tech also assumed to be gone by this point, you’re looking at a league headlined by West Virginia and Pittsburgh that’s continually taken on water for a decade (unlike in real life, where it was two specific moves almost a decade apart). The idea behind the Big East adding these schools in real life was based on all of them finding a home that suited both the football and basketball needs. But without Syracuse, is the Big East basketball brand really all that strong? Doubtful.

Move 7: TCU does not depart MWC for Big East or Big 12 (2010)

This one actually has a lot more elements to it. With TCU and Utah (see the Pac-10/12 note above) staying in the MWC, suddenly that league becomes the monster we all knew it could be (and almost was). Inviting Boise State and keeping BYU (fair assumption) means you’ve got an incredibly strong western league of 10 teams. There’s a fair likelihood Fresno State and Nevada join on too, just as they did in real life. The MWC, in this scenario, could’ve easily grown into a 14- or 16-team league that regularly challenged for top bowl bids.

Move 8: Rutgers and Virginia Tech depart Big East for ACC (2011)

Couple things… so I guess Virginia Tech didn’t go to the SEC as indicated up above? No way they leave that league for the ACC. Additionally, why would these two schools be so anxious to leave the Big East if Nebraska had joined? They dismiss Pittsburgh in the conversation, but I don’t think that’s really fair either. Pennsylvania’s a big state for football. Rutgers is Rutgers. If Syracuse had joined the ACC back in 2004, the New York market’s already locked up. No need to add the Scarlet Knights at all. Which means Pitt’s the choice. They also bring up Louisville, which is interesting because without a necessity to add the Cardinals (as the ACC had in real life), I’m unsure they’re so quick to jump at them. It worked out, obviously. But I think there’s a real conversation between them and UConn had things shaken out according to the hypothetical timeline.

Move 9: Maryland departs ACC for Big Ten (2012)

No reason for this based on all the previous moves. Without a Big 12, the ACC is never in the predator-prey situation it experienced in real life. And with just four major conferences, the ACC can probably be paid more handsomely than they are in real life, too. Maryland would have zero desire to leave the league this alternate reality’s created, and the Big Ten is unlikely to have any desire to add them — especially if a Big East with Nebraska involved is disintegrating as well.

Move 10: Connecticut departs Big East for Big Ten (2012)

Nope. See above. If Nebraska and Kansas are out there to be had, those are the moves. Plus, they’re saying Pitt gets left in the dust in this whole thing? I say unlikely. Also, LOL UCONN.


So based on all of these moves, we’ve got an amalgamation of weird conferences that make zero sense whatsoever. I’ve added my notes for why these moves would or wouldn’t have happened, but to summarize, here’s who I believed each league would have added:

ACC: Boston College, Louisville, Miami, Pittsburgh, Syracuse

Big East: Iowa State, Kansas State (Missouri and Kansas end up leaving for Big Ten later); also assuming they’ve added Cincinnati, Louisville and USF

Big Ten: Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska

Big 12: Dead.

MWC: Boise State, Fresno State, Nevada

Pac-10: Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas, Texas Tech

SEC: Texas A&M, Virginia Tech

Where the Hell Are You?: Baylor, Colorado


Your thoughts? Am I off-base? Was Curious to see what people think…

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5 thoughts on “Rewriting Conference Realignment History

    • Guess it really depends. For basketball, SU leaving would’ve been crippling to the league’s identity, especially as TV contracts continued to blow up over the last decade. For football, Pitt or SU leaving would have had a similar effect. Doesn’t do the Big East favors to lose either. But also much less important than losing Miami or Virginia Tech.

      • Well, I’m talking bball primarily. If SU left, Pitt would have stepped up it’s BBall game earlier I’d imagine. They also would have won more Big East championships in FBall 😛

        Either way, 6 days John..6 glorious days and one of the speculation matters!

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