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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Atlantic Coast Convos Far-Too-Early 2013 Top 25 (May 1)

Could Stanford Challenge Alabama for the National Championship This Season? Stranger Things Have Happened

Could Stanford Challenge Alabama for the National Championship This Season?

College football has always been based in part upon random guessing about who’s better, so you’ll likely find little issue with this early top 25 poll based on nothing but speculation and a fear of Nick Saban. Who finishes below the terrifying Tide however, is largely up for debate, which is why we filled out the second through 24th spots to the best of our abilities. If nothing else, use this as a reminder that we’re getting closer to kickoff. Disagree with any (or all) of the below? Protest away in the comments.

Atlantic Coast Convos 2013 Top 25 (May 1)

1. Alabama Crimson Tide (Last: 1)

2. Stanford Cardinal (Last: 2)

3. Texas A&M Aggies (Last: 3)

4. Ohio State Buckeyes (Last: 8)

5. Oregon Ducks (Last: 4)

6. Georgia Bulldogs (Last: 5)

7. South Carolina Gamecocks (Last: 6)

8. Clemson Tigers (Last: 7)

9. Louisville Cardinals (Last: 10)

10. Texas Longhorns (Last: 9)

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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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Rushel Shell Transfer: Where to, and What’s Next for Pitt’s Backfield?

Rushel Shell's Leaving Pittsburgh, But Where Could He End Up Next?

We Know Rushel Shell’s Leaving Pittsburgh, But Where Could He End Up Next?

As has been the news for nearly a week now, presumed starting running back Rushel Shell has elected to transfer out of Pittsburgh’s football program. SB Nation’s Cardiac Hill has a detailed breakdown of the various puzzling aspects of this move, so for discussion around that front, feel free to wander in that general direction.

What we’re interested in here is where he could potentially end up (touched upon over at CH as well), and then what’s next for the Panthers’ backfield as they continue with spring practice. With little information available right now, please keep in mind this is almost entirely speculation at the moment.

Where could Rushel Shell transfer to?

Just one year ago, Shell was in high demand as one of the top-rated running back prospects in the nation, and he was expected to deliver on those lofty goals as Pitt’s featured back in 2013. Now, he’s an impressive sophomore runner with 641 rushing yards and four scores under his belt, looking for a new home where he’ll sit out a year before regaining eligibility in 2014.

The top transfer choices are the ones in closest proximity: West Virginia and Penn State, but there’s chatter that Pitt would not allow him to head to either long-time rival program. Same goes for Arizona State, where former Panthers coach Todd Graham currently resides as head coach. The Cardiac Hill guys believe Pitt would block any move to those three schools, but is that the right move? Not siding with Shell here, but based on a recent tweet from the mother of Shell’s children, it would almost seem like he’s trying to run from some issues (purely speculation). However, rewind the clock a year, and let’s remember what happened when former Terps QB Danny O’Brien was trying to leave Maryland and head coach Randy Edsall was adamant about limiting his possibilities. The backlash was pretty far-reaching and ultimately, amounted to nothing since O’Brien failed to go to a future scheduled opponent or another ACC team (he went to Wisconsin).

So with that said, where could he potentially land? The top two choices are obvious:

Arizona State: Graham and his staff initially recruited Shell, and perhaps that was part of the initial appeal to the Panthers program (beyond just local tie-ins). The Sun Devils currently have a veteran backfield set for fall, giving Shell ample opportunity to contribute come fall 2014.

West Virginia: Still local, and like many Pitt players, Shell certainly knows plenty of Mountaineers players. With the Big 12 sort of lacking for an elite back, Shell could get an opportunity to really shine in that conference, though who knows how much opportunity he’d get in Dana Holgorsen’s air-raid offense.

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Atlantic Coast Convos Far-Too-Early 2013 Top 25

Can Duke Johnson and the 'Canes Find Themselves in the Top 25 This Fall?

Can Duke Johnson and the ‘Canes Find Themselves in the Top 25 This Fall?

With spring practices well under way, and recruiting classes all settled, we’ve got our first informed look at what college football’s top 25 may look like for 2013. While it’s nothing more than a slightly educated guess, perhaps it’ll at least make us forget about just how long it is until the new season kicks off this coming August. Disagree with any (or all) of the below? Protest away in the comments.

Atlantic Coast Convos 2013 Top 25 (April 3)

1. Alabama Crimson Tide (Last: 1)

2. Stanford Cardinal (Last: 2)

3.Texas A&M Aggies (Last: 3)

4.Oregon Ducks (Last: 4)

5. Georgia Bulldogs (Last: 5)

6. South Carolina Gamecocks (Last: 7)

7. Clemson Tigers (Last: 8)

8. Ohio State Buckeyes (Last: 6)

9. Texas Longhorns (Last: 13)

10. Louisville Cardinals (Last: 9)

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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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ACC Football Recruiting 2013: Border Wars, and Leaving Your Footprint to Find Talent

Does UGA Control Georgia Recruiting So Much That Tech Must Look Elsewhere?

Does UGA Control Georgia Recruiting So Much That Tech Must Look Elsewhere?

ACC teams pulled in an impressive haul on National Signing Day last month, but with so many conference schools located in states/general regions that overlap with (current and future) Big Ten and SEC schools’ territories, it can be a real uphill slog to lock down local recruits. For some schools like Georgia Tech (14th ranked class out of 15 in the ACC), the overriding opinion is that their own home state, Georgia, may be lost for good to the likes of rival Georgia, and perhaps Georgia State in the future, so why not “go national?

As a key football brand, there’s not doubt the ‘Wreck will ultimately find success leaving the state of Georgia. But for other schools, they can’t afford a bad recruiting class to tell them now is the time to alter course. This year in particular, several schools actually went on the offensive, grabbing some of their best players from bordering states (and in turn, rival institutions from other conferences).

To help frame the conversation, I’ve enlisted our own Hokie Mark (who runs his own ACCFootballRx site along with the work he helps with here) to parse through his immense collection of recruiting data, and give us a starting point. From Mark’s companion piece on ACC schools losing in-state recruits, here’s how we’ll be classifying states:

ACC-Exclusive States: Massachusetts, North Carolina, New York, Virginia

Battleground States: Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, South Carolina

Border States: Alabama, Connecticut, Washington D.C., Indiana, Maryland, New Jersey, Ohio, Tennessee

In “Border States,” there were a total of 68 players who received a four- or five-star rating from (we’ll be using this for consistency, and because that’s where Mark’s data is from). Of those 68, here’s how the recruits were broken down (by conference):

ACC: 9

B1G: 26

Big 12: 2

Notre Dame: 2

Pac-12: 3

SEC: 24

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