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.

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Restarting College Football From Scratch: Which 120 Schools Would Sponsor Football?

Is Your School One of the 120 Best Equipped to Play College Football?

Is Your School One of the 120 Best Equipped to Play College Football in Today’s Landscape?

Back in March, SB Nation’s Jason Kirk took a look at an interesting question: Where would you place a college football program if you were starting one completely from scratch? The considerations included current program geography, potential fan bases and to some degree, recruiting as well. Using these factors, both Jason and the commenters (myself included) recommended a flurry of current and hypothetical universities, with no clear choice above the rest. As it is the offseason, this is quite the entertaining exercise.

But taking that idea a step further, what if we decided to start the whole thing from scratch? Blow up the current college football landscape — structure, traditions, records, existing programs, etc. — and just completely start fresh. The only hard-and-fast rule? We’re choosing 120 schools, all of which either currently sponsor Division-1 or -II NCAA athletics and/or have an institutional endowment over $1 billion. Additionally, to narrow the consideration pool down a bit, I avoided all schools with less than 5,000 students, since it’s highly unlikely they’d be able to support football from a talent or fan standpoint (at the collegiate game’s highest level anyway).

Using these factors as guides, I built an available pool of 318 schools, and compiled the following information for each:

  • Endowment: In many cases, endowments are a nice measuring stick of a school’s ability to raise money. Since college football programs cost money and need similar fundraising to function, this should certainly come into play when considering a school’s ability to sponsor the sport.
  • Enrollment: It’s not the end-all, be-all of whether you can sponsor football, but fan support usually starts with students. If you don’t even have 7,000 students on campus, how are you supposed to draw more than 20,000 to Saturday’s game?
  • State Recruiting Ranking: This is a big one, because it examines how sustainable football is from a local recruiting level. If you’re a big school, but have no local base, that means you’re utilizing a national strategy. Likewise, if you’re a mid-size school, but exist in a large local base, you still have a significant chance of recruiting success.
  • Public/Private: Obviously, there are more public schools than private schools at the FBS level today, and in our setup, that’ll still be the case. Private schools won’t be eliminated from consideration at all, but if a decision must be made between a private school and public school, the public school will win out. Public institutions have an easier road toward attracting local talent, and in many cases support too, so that was taken into consideration on a few choice occasions.

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ACC Football Divisional Realignment: What are the Most Important Factors for a Better Divisional Setup?

If the ACC Considers Realigning its Divisions, the Florida State-Miami Rivalry is at the Focal Point

If the ACC Considers Realigning its Divisions, Talk Will  Revolve Around the Florida State-Miami Rivalry

Now that the ACC‘s no longer in imminent peril, everyone can shift away from realignment theories and focus on other things… like divisional realignment theories. While the ACC does effectively have a wall built around its borders, that doesn’t change the issue it’s been having with the on-field football product of late. Due to expansion (both the first and second round), rivalries have taken a backseat to a hackneyed divisional alignment solely meant to match up Florida State and Miami for the ACC championship. Eight years after the formation of the “Atlantic” and “Coastal” divisions, that title game has yet to occur and now, with 14 teams, this nonsensical setup has never appeared more pointless. For the sake of more compelling matchups, as well as improving the quality of all the league’s teams (theoretically, at least), the best solution seems to be realigning the divisions. But what makes the most sense?

First, you have to outline the most important factors for divisional realignment; what are the top priorities if we’re going to blow up the current model and start over? From my point of view, those priorities are as follows:

1. Geography: Rivalries are inherently built out of geographic proximity — something the current alignment largely misses out on. With a league that spans from Boston to Miami, travel costs should also be a consideration to re-work things along geographic lines.

2. Eliminate Crossover Opponents: Under the current setup, each school is locked into six games in their respective division, plus one permanent crossover and then a rotating crossover opponent. With just one flexible slot each year, many schools in opposite divisions end up playing each other just once every six years. While some small exceptions can be made, the rule that every team needs a crossover opponent (since many of these are forced “rivalries”) must go. By freeing up another spot in the schedule, teams face each other more frequently, which is something virtually every fan base wants.

3. Get Teams Exposure in Florida: This is where things get a bit tricky. Getting in front of Florida recruits is a big deal for every school, and a pure geographic realignment largely cuts off the northeast schools from that recruiting hot bed. But if Miami (tons of northeast alums, anyway) was put in a hypothetical “North” division, this largely solves that issue. Every “North” team would have Miami on the annual schedule, while every “South” team would have an annual tilt with Florida State.

“But, but, but WHAT ABOUT THE FLORIDA STATE-MIAMI RIVALRY?!” We’re getting to it…

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Breaking: ACC Set to Announce Grant of Rights Deal Through 2027 (Updated)

The ACC's Grant of Rights Will Lock in All Teams Through 2027... Goodbye, Realignment Talk!

The ACC’s Grant of Rights Will Lock in All Teams Through 2027… Goodbye, Realignment Talk!

So, remember all those times when the ACC was pretty much dead? Well, so much for that…

As reported by ACC Sports Journal’s David Glenn and The Daily Press’s David Teel, it looks like the ACC is set to announce a grant of media rights agreement through 2027. Such a deal would lock in media revenues from broadcast rights through 2027 for all teams except Notre Dame‘s football program. So, if a school wanted to leave for what used to be perceived as a “better” deal with the Big Ten or Big 12, that benefit’s now moot, since that school would surrender 14 years of revenues.

Obviously, fans of the league have been calling for this type of move for some time, as it basically builds a fence around the current membership (similar to what the Big 12 did a couple years back). With such a long deal, too, the ACC suddenly drops to the bottom of any potential expansion list, since no school can afford to give up a decade-and-a-half of revenues. Effectively, with the two most “vulnerable” leagues (ACC and Big 12) locked up for the foreseeable future, the conference realignment circus looks to be dead, at least in terms of the five major conferences.

We’ll be able to provide more information once the announcement is official and we see the agreement’s details in their entirety. It’s a great day for the ACC and all of its members, and in my own opinion, the perfect segue for an ACC Network to get up and running. With media rights locked in for such an extended period of time, there’s less risk and more value than ever before in undertaking such an endeavor.

Thoughts? These are just some of my initial reactions, and would love to discuss it all further with folks in the comments. We’ll also leave you with this image, courtesy of @TheKeyPlay.

UPDATED: CBS notes that payouts per-school will now be at $20 million annually. This is huge, and with the ACC Network still in the wings, suddenly, the conference is looking much more competitive from a revenue standpoint. The grant of rights agreement also removes the previous exit fee (three times the operating budget).

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Conference Realignment: ACC Made the Right Move Picking Louisville Over UConn

After a Sugar Bowl Win and a Men's Basketball Title, Louisville Looks Like a Great Addition to the ACC

After a Sugar Bowl Win & a Men’s Basketball Title, Louisville Looks Like a Great Addition to the ACC

It’s been months since the ACC made the bold move to add Louisville over assumed next-school-in-line, Connecticut. And while things can certainly change over the course of the next few years (and hopefully, decades), we wanted to quickly compare the two schools’ returns across their respective athletic teams during the 2012-13 season. This blog, along with many others, was of the opinion that adding Louisville, a property with tremendous upside that the Big 12 was also interested in pursuing, was a better add than UConn then. And over four months later, we’ll stand by that. A look at the athletic year for these two schools so far:

Louisville Cardinals

Baseball: 25-7 (7-2); currently ranked 11th nationally, 1st in Big East

Men’s Basketball: 34-5; National champs, Big East Tournament & regular season champs

Women’s Basketball: 29-9; National runner-up

Field Hockey: 12-8; third in Big East

Football: 11-2; Sugar Bowl champs, Big East champs

Women’s Lacrosse: 8-4; sixth in Big East

Men’s Soccer: 14-6-1; ranked ninth nationally, Big East Red division champs

Women’s Soccer: 10-4-4; third in Big East National division

Softball: 34-6; currently ranked 11th nationally

Women’s Volleyball: 30-4; ranked 17th nationally, Big East Tournament & regular season champs

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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]

  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]

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

  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]

  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]

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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Is My School an Expansion Target? A Handy Guide to Conference Realignment

Is Your Team a Prime Expansion Candidate? Choose Your Own Adventure Below...

Is Your Team a Prime Expansion Candidate? Calculate Your “Realignment Score” Below

The Big Ten expansion carousel got rolling once again today, this time claiming that invites have been officially issued to both Virginia and North Carolina of the ACC. Until proven true, it’s just another round of ACC death hoaxes, so until I see some confirmation from Frank the Tank and/or Brett McMurphy, you can count me a skeptic here.

But nonetheless, it’s obvious that expansion fever is still very much in the air and everyone – especially ACC fans – needs to be conscious of the warning signs for this catastrophic disease. With that, we’ve created this helpful guide to assist you in navigating the twists and turns of your school’s conference realignment rumors. All metrics are completely subjective, though are all based on college football expansion moves since 2004.

1. Would my school be upgrading with a move?

From 2004 through all confirmed changes for the upcoming years, 55 of 60 FBS schools that switched conferences have made a significant upgrade in membership compared to their former leagues. So if your favorite school/alma mater would find itself in better company by way of leaving its current situation (and that is that case for all schools not in the Big Ten, SEC or Pac-12), please give them two points for this round. If your school is in those leagues, subtract two.

2. Is my school a founding member of its conference?

Again going back to 2004, 13 founding members of leagues have left or are planning to leave the conferences which they founded at one point or another. Among the most notable include founding Big East member Syracuse leaving for the ACC, and founding ACC member Maryland heading to the Big Ten. But overall, being one of the founding members of a conference usually means that school also possesses an unequal amount of power (we’ll get to the larger conversation around this in a second). The scoring here is a bit more complicated, but by conference affiliation:

  • Big Ten, SEC, Pac-12, MAC= 0 points
  • Big 12= 1 point
  • ACC, MWC= 2 points
  • Big East, C-USA, Sun Belt= 5 points

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