ACC Realignment Hypothetical: Scaling Back To A Ten Team Conference?

I very much enjoyed Mark Blaudschun's refreshing take on the Big East mess. Any conference who is seriously considering adding Army and Navy to the fold -- particularly Army, a team that couldn't really hack it in Conference USA -- is in some serious trouble. Nice to see a change of tune from the media who for a long time pushed the "BC will return to the conference" meme. Clearly, that ship has long since sailed. 

And while I don't really believe the media has a good read on the situation or has the slightest idea what will be the end result of this game of conference musical chairs, this quote from Blauds article definitely caught my attention:

"There may be more trouble coming for the Big East if the Big Ten decides to move forward again in a few years; already there are rumblings that it might go to 14 teams, with an eye on Georgia Tech and Maryland, which would significantly increase its television footprint.

If that happens, the ACC will be forced to react (UConn? Syracuse? Rutgers?) with what surely would be a fatal blow to Big East football."

Let's take this in two parts. First, let's tackle the notion that the Big Ten would again play the role of BCS conference raider, this time going after Maryland and Georgia Tech from the ACC.

This doesn't seem that far-fetched when you think about. Both programs were at least rumored to be in the expansion conversation the last time the Big Ten weighed its expansion options (and went with adding Nebraska to the fold). Both are members of the Association of American Universities (AAU), with Georgia Tech joining just last year, and both programs represent rather large television markets, coveted by the Big Ten Network. The Big Ten also didn't exactly make it a secret that they were looking at making in-roads in the southern part of the country when they courted Texas.

Finally, and unlike the ACC, SEC and Pac-12 who have little incentive to expand beyond their current 12-team configuration, the incentives are still very much there for the Big Ten to expand beyond 12 programs. Adding large television markets -- making the B1G Ten even b1gger (see what I did there?) -- increases the value of the BTN. On the other hand, the ACC, SEC and Pac-12 aren't exactly incentivized to add more mouths to feed with their fixed media rights contract with ESPN.

Second, the notion that the ACC would automatically react by adding two more teams to get back to twelve.

(As an aside, you might want to change the order of those questions, Blauds. That parenthetical should probably read "Syracuse? Pittsburgh? ... Rutgers? ... UConn? ... ... ... Villanova?")

On the second point, I'm not so sure that would be the ACC's automatic reaction if Maryland and Georgia Tech were convinced that the money was too good to pass up years of historical rivals in the ACC. True, losing both Maryland and Georgia Tech to the B1G would drop the conference's membership to just ten programs. This would eliminate the possibility of an ACC Championship Game, make the Atlantic/Coastal divisional split obsolete and further isolate BC from its closest conference neighbor.

But, with all due respect to my colleagues at Maryland and Georgia Tech, this doesn't seem to be the same sort of death blow to the conference that say, the SEC annexing Florida State, Miami, Clemson and Georgia Tech represents. Remember, I did say "with all due respect," so that makes this OK.

I actually think it's entirely possible that the ACC pulls a Big 12 and would stand pat at 10 programs. We'd lose the ACC Championship Game in football, but this would allow the conference to move to a balanced nine-game, round-robin scheduling format in football, and also to an 18-game, home-and-home format in basketball. I seriously doubt you'd hear programs like Florida State or Virginia Tech complain about removing an additional hurdle to getting to the big-money BCS bowls and possibly the BCS National Championship Game. 

This would add more inventory for the TV media rights contract and could offset the lost revenue from the ACC Championship Game. A ninth conference game in football would also decrease the costs associated with scheduling a fourth guarantee game every year.

Finally, this would put Miami back on BC's annual football schedule -- something I've been waxing poetic about ever since ESPN put BC-Miami back on Thanksgiving Friday -- as well as programs like like-minded schools like North Carolina and Virginia. However, this scheduling format would also add Duke to the annual football sched. No proposal is without a few flaws.

A football schedule that included Florida State, Miami, Virginia Tech, Clemson, North Carolina and Virginia every season seems like a much better deal than the current 5+2+1 scheduling arrangement, and just might help with football ticket sales. Plus in basketball, this would guarantee North Carolina and Duke coming to campus every year, which also seems like a win and a boon to the box office.

I don't know. Seems like addition by subtraction if this were to happen. My only question would be does Maryland become a Leader or a Legend?

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