Conference Realignment: West Virginia To Big 12, Notre Dame To ACC?

Oooo, shiny! (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Unless you were living under a rock yesterday, I'm sure you heard the big news that West Virginia is leaving the Big East to join the Big 12.

"West Virginia is headed to the Big 12, according to a person with direct knowledge of the situation, a move that leaves the Big East with five football programs and an uncertain future. The person said Tuesday that the Mountaineers had "applied and are accepted," leaving only legal entanglements from making the move official. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal had not been formally announced."

Last night, Joe Schad reported on SportsCenter that the Mountaineers exit from the Big East isn't conditional on Missouri leaving the Big 12 for the SEC. As you would expect, Mountaineers fans are pretty excited about this news.

West Virginia's impending exodus from the conferences leaves the Big East with just five football playing members -- Rutgers, Connecticut, Cincinnati, Louisville and South Florida -- and in need of a serious shot in the arm in the form of seven additional football playing members if the conference has any hope of holding onto its BCS automatic qualifying status. 

In other expansion news, ESPN's Gene Wojciechowski thinks that the Irish's dance with the ACC isn't over yet. In fact, he cites the many Irish ties in the athletics departments of some member ACC programs as a reason why the ACC may be Notre Dame's final destination. That, and the fact that the Irish aren't going to be sticking around for the Big East Conference's funeral.

"But the ACC, which is getting a major blood transfusion from Big East defectors, remains the leader in the Notre Dame clubhouse -- if the Irish decide to give up their precious indie status.

The ACC will continue to do its expansion dance with UConn and Rutgers as the conference's 15th and 16th teams, but Notre Dame is its obvious prime target. Then UConn and Rutgers would have a death-cage match for the remaining ACC spot."

Still, I'll believe this when a school official from Notre Dame actually announces that they are giving up their coveted football independent to join the ACC as an all-sports member. 

Wojciechowski even goes as far as dividing the conference into two, 16-team divisions that look like this:

North: Notre Dame, Pitt, Syracuse, UConn, Maryland, Boston College, Virginia and Virgina Tech.
South: Duke, Carolina, Miami, Clemson, Georgia Tech, North Carolina State, Wake Forest and Florida State

Yuck.

This would be great from a traditional rivalry point of view, with the Eagles drawing the Irish, Orange, Panthers, Hokies and, what the hell, even the Huskies every season. This also would be terrible from a recruiting perspective, with trips to Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas few and far between. Personally, I'd also miss a traditional rivalry with Miami and of course the O'Rourke-McFadden Trophy and the leather helmet. Both program would likely hit the Eagles sched once every four years (and hit campus once every eight) under a 9-game football schedule.

On a positive note, this would put Virginia on the schedule every year, which I think would be a good fit in terms of our school's similar academic standing and shared football coaching trees.

We remain cautious and concerned.

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