ACC Division Realignment: Boston College's Future Crossover Rival?

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League officials have stated that when the ACC adds Syracuse and Pittsburgh to the conference (whenever that may be), adding the Orange and Panthers to the existing divisions is far more likely than starting from scratch. If the ACC goes down this route, adding Syracuse and Pitt to the existing Atlantic and Coastal Divisions, David Teel writes that BC and Virginia Tech's permanent cross-over rivalry game may be affected by the final decision.

"If Pitt is deployed to the Coastal and Syracuse to the Atlantic, then they figure to become yearly crossover opponents, as Virginia Tech (Coastal) and Boston College (Atlantic) have been since the Eagles joined the ACC in 2005. But if Syracuse goes to the Coastal and Pitt to the Atlantic, then look for the crossovers to become Tech-Pitt and Syracuse-Boston College."

Teel cites fan-friendliness resulting from geographic proximity as the cause of the permanent cross-over shakeup. Pittsburgh and Blacksburg are separated by 320 miles. Boston and Pittsburgh are 715 miles apart. BC and Syracuse are 310 miles apart, 50 miles closer than Pittsburgh.

Virginia Tech associate AD Tom Gabbard is quoted as saying Tech would "love to have Pitt (as a crossover)," and Teel feels that Virginia Tech and Pitt are almost certain to play each other each season.

"Regardless of division assignments, Virginia Tech and Pitt are almost certain to play each season - the Hokies were 7-4 against the Panthers during their Big East time and are scheduled to play a non-conference game at Pitt next season - either as crossovers or division rivals. The question is whether Tech-Boston College remains an annual affair or is, essentially, replaced by Tech-Syracuse."

I'm not clear exactly why Virginia Tech and Pitt are almost "certain to play each season." Frankly, that seems like a very Hokie-centric view on ACC divisional realignment. Hokies-Panthers is a "rivalry" that is just 11 games in the making. I agree that BC-Virginia Tech has always seemed a little forced as a cross-over rivalry, but the Eagles and Hokies do have nine games on Panthers-Hokies. Even Syracuse has six more games against Tech all-time on the Panthers.

Contrast that to the Eagles, who have faced Syracuse 46 times in school-history (18-28), Pittsburgh 29 times (13-16) and Virginia Tech 20 times (6-14). BC's priority will be to play Syracuse each season, as the two schools have a long-term non-conference series scheduled through 2021.

If the conference does split Pitt and Syracuse, both of those program's priority will likely be to preserve a yearly game with one another. Pitt and Syracuse have played 67 times with the Panthers owning a slight 34-30-3 edge in the all-time series. I doubt either program would be willing to see an long-time series on the gridiron hit the football schedule just once every few years, which would be the case if the conference splits Syracuse and Pitt and adjusts the divisional cross-over games to BC-Syracuse and Tech-Pitt.

What I find interesting here is that the ACC's most dominant football program in the post-expansion era has the least riding on the divisional placement of Pitt and Syracuse.

BC's interest is in keeping Syracuse on the yearly schedule. Syracuse is likely interested in facing both BC and Pittsburgh, and Pitt in keeping a yearly game with Syracuse. Now you have Tech's associate AD stating they'd love to replace BC with Pittsburgh as its permanent cross-over rivalry.

Unfortunately, all of those competing interests can't be satisfied if the ACC decides to separate Syracuse and Pittsburgh. This is why I think you'll see Syracuse added to the Atlantic Division, Pittsburgh to the Coastal, Syracuse-Pitt added as a cross-over rivalry and the rest left unchanged. There's a lot more history and tradition on the line that shouldn't be thrown away in favor of a geographically-convenient rivalry game that feels just as forced as BC-Virginia Tech.

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