The New ACC? A hypothetical look at the East's New Power Conference
With the NCAA landscape in flux, conferences around the country are pondering their futures seemingly every hour.
The Atlantic Coast Conference is no different. While it has been less than 10 years since the conference expanded to its current format of 12, there is a real possibility that the other conference may have to look at expanding once again, or risk going the way of the Big 12.
In order to do that, the league may have to start looking to pluck some schools from other conferences such as the Big East, Conference USA and even the SEC. At the same time, the ACC could potentially lose some of its current members.
If this were to happen, what would become of the ACC? The answers, like with every other conference, would depend on money, and television.
But, in this new landscape the ACC could build anew with a mixture of old and new.
It could be based on traditional basketball powers while incorporating a strong football back ground.
The ACC could add solid academics as well as athletics. With a few surprises, a new ACC would be an intriguing conference to say the least.
So who is in and who is out?
If there was ever a school in the ACC that seemed destined to leave for, say, a major football conference like the SEC, it is Clemson.
The Tigers may not always be the best team in the conference, but they hold their own when they aren't busy disappointing all the fans who bet on them to win.
They would be a natural fit for a conference like the SEC. Their major sport is football but they are respectable in other areas as well. They have SEC type facilities and tradition and a very football crazed fan base.
They simply would just be another group of Tigers in the SEC.
Miami has never seemed to fit in with the ACC. The Hurricanes came from the Big East and were the big dogs of football on a national scale for a long time.
They haven't been what the ACC would have hoped for, and you could argue their basketball team has been more impressive.
But they still have great facilities and a big time fan base, especially when they are winning. They might be a natural fit for the SEC, but as for the ACC I could see them going elsewhere.
Out: Florida State
The Seminoles were the originial expansion team when they joined the ACC in the early 1990s. The went on to win every game and every championship in football for seemingly forever.
As Bobby Bowden got older, the luster began to fade. If Jimbo Fisher can rebuild the program back then there wouldn't be a conference these guys wouldn't fit in.
Out: Georgia Tech
For the longest time it seems Georgia Tech and Clemson were rumored to be considering leaving the ACC.
Georgia Tech has done well in the conference, but always seems to be overshadowed by the North Carolina schools.
I could see conference expansion as a chance for the Jackets to spread their wings and buzz on over to a more lucrative deal in a conference like the SEC, one that might just appreciate them.
Out: Boston College
Boston College has never made sense in the ACC, mainly because of location.
The Eagles just don't have any common rivals in the league. Geographically they are even more isolated than Florida State was when it first entered the ACC.
Boston College belongs in a conference that is centered around schools in the North.
While this move may look like more of a loss for the ACC and more like a win for the SEC, it makes some sense.
First, Vanderbilt could share a lot in common with Duke. It has a marginal football program and a solidly respectable basketball team year in and year out.
Vanderbilt is located reasonably close to the other schools in the conference, and in the new ACC it would have a chance to compete in both sports.
In: East Carolina
The Pirates have drifted aimlessly in Conference USA long enough. They need to be in a conference closer to home, and the ACC provides just that.
East Carolina can compete with regional rivals in NC State, Duke and UNC. The Pirates would bring a solid football program.
The big set back is in name recognition and the fact that their basketball program is not up to par. That would definitely need to be improved for them to get a solid invite.
In: South Carolina
This would never happen, but tell me it doesn't make sense.
Adding the Gamecocks to the ACC would provide some respect in football, since USC is an SEC school. It could also rekindle the North and South Carolina rivalry which would bring an amazing crowd.
At least in my opinion, South Carolina hasn't gotten much respect from the SEC. In the ACC, the Gamecocks would come in as a legitimate contender, at least in the money maker of football, from day one.
In: West Virginia
This would be a win-win for the ACC as the Mountaineers have solid programs in both football and basketball.
They would fit in with the schools in Virginia and Maryland and could help form the Mountain Division of a new ACC.
Add in a rivalry with Virginia and Virginia Tech, and you've got a winning combination.
The Scarlet Knights might not seem like a good fit, but they are.
They have improved their football team a good deal and have historically played decent basketball, alhough not so much as of late.
It would be an interesting rivalry with Duke, seeing as the Blue Devils have so many athletes from New Jersey.
They might be a stretch but I think they would fit right in in no time.
While the Panthers most likely would go to the Big 10 first to join natural rivals Penn State, they would be welcome in not only football, but basketball in the ACC.
If they still harbor animosity about not getting in the Big 10 earlier, then the ACC would welcome them to the conference as a reasonably close northern power.
They are rivals with West Virginia, and could easily form other rivalries within the new conference.
Memphis would be an intriguing addition to the ACC. They aren't great in football, but their basketball program is on par with the best in the ation.
If Josh Pastner can keep the program at a high level, it could be an intgriguing addition.
Of course, the football program will need to get much much better. If Duke can get more people in the stands than Memphis, then we have a problem.
In: Appalachian State University
This very well may never work, and the Mountaineers seem plenty happy winning FCS championships. But it does make sense.
The time might be right for the Mountaineers to join the FBS level, and what better place than the ACC?
It might very well take them a while to adjust to life with the big boys, but their football program is good.
If they can improve their basketball program to at least be respectable, the unforeseen move to pick from the lower level might pay off for the ACC.
The Thundering Herd have had a storied history in football. That in and of itself, combined with a nice rivalry with in-state rival and new ACC member West Virginia, could make things exciting.
Like Appalachain State, ECU, Ruters and South Carolina, Marshall would have to step up its basketball program. But in a bigger conference with more money, the Herd might just be able to pull it off.
Staying Put: Duke
Being one of the original members of the ACC, the Blue Devils will remain in the conference along with their rivals.
Duke's traditional basketball prowess will hopefully mix in well with the new conference as the football team continues to improve. This new conference offers a mix of levels of football.
That will allow for Duke to continue to grow and improve in an area they have been a laughingstock until recently.
Staying Put: North Carolina
North Carolina will not go anywhere, of course. The Heels have more rivals in this conference then you can shake a stick at.
Add in the fact that they are academically sound and good or respectable at seemingly every sport, and they fit right in.
Staying Put: North Carolina State
State's success as a football team, combined with astoried basketball history, will keep it in the ACC.
Being rivals with other charter members helps too. The new conference will avoid the pitfall of sticking the pack in the division opposite its greatest rivals though.
If the basketball team turns around, the Pack could be a real force.
Staying Put: Wake Forest
Wake will mix well as a charter member that features solid football and basketball.
The Deacons are also sound academically and match well with Vanderbilt and Duke. This may end up being one of the best academic conferences in the country.
Staying Put: Virginia
Virginia stays put as well, and will join its rivals in the mountains.
The Wahoos have struggled lately in both money-making sports, but with new coaches they are hoping for a resurgence that will help propel them back to the top of the standings.
By the way, Virginia is another very good school academically speaking.
Staying Put: Virginia Tech
The Hokies have a chance to be a real powerhouse. They have established themselves as a football school and they are working on building a very good basketball program.
The ACC has helped their basketball program, and this new addition of the conference should help to continue that growth.
Staying Put: Maryland
Maryland has fallen off a bit in football, but basketball is still king. If the Terps can turn things around on the gridiron, they can be a force again.
They are solid in multiple sports and have good academics. But in this new ACC, who doesn't?
Division Break Downs
In this new 16 school Atlantic Coast Conference, it makes sense to break down the teams into two geographical regions that keep natural rivals together.
This would include the Mountain Region and the Coastal Region. It certainly is better than the current system of Atlantic and Coastal; really, what is the difference?
Under the hypothetical new conference structure, the break down would be:
Mountain Division: Pitt, West Virginia, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Marshall, Memphis, Appalachian State, Vanderbilt.
Coastal Division: Duke, North Carolina, North Carolina State, East Carolina, South Carolina, Maryland, Rutgers, Wake Forest.