While nothing has been officially set in stone, it looks like Louisville will join Boston College, Clemson, Florida State, N.C. State, Syracuse and Wake Forest in the Atlantic Division. That's a mistake.
As part of yesterday's announcement of adding Louisville to the ACC, commissioner John Swofford was asked where Louisville will fit into the divisional alignment. While nothing has been set in stone, Swofford anticipates that Louisville will join Boston College, Clemson, Florida State, N.C. State, Syracuse and Wake Forest in the Atlantic Division.
"We have not had any conversations of that nature. I think that our anticipation is that Louisville will jump right into the decisions that have already been made in terms of a 14‑team league and take Maryland's place in terms of the Atlantic Division in football and simply to take Maryland's place in terms of our basketball scheduling and other Olympic sports scheduling, as well."
When asked whether Louisville would simply inherit Maryland's crossover rival (Virginia), Swofford further added the anticipation would be that Louisville would be paired with Virginia.
The future ACC divisional alignment would look like this:
Crossover rivals: Boston College-Virginia Tech, Clemson-Georgia Tech, Florida State-Miami, Louisville-Virginia, N.C. State-North Carolina, Syracuse-Pittsburgh, Wake Forest-Duke
Makes sense that the early thought process would be to simply replace Maryland with Louisville, especially with Clemson, Florida State and Syracuse (?) -- all Atlantic Division members -- pushing hard for Louisville over Connecticut.
But the issue is that this can't make Virginia all that happy with respect to the 'Hoos' crossover rival. The Cavaliers trade in a crossover rival -- an actual rival -- they've met on the gridiron 76 times for one they've met ... twice (and not since 1989). Though this is a loss for the 'Hoos, it's hard to feel bad considering Virginia has been one of the conference's strongest proponents of keeping the current divisional alignment (even though the current alignment makes little sense to outsiders).
While I understand the reasons for sticking it out with the current Atlantic and Coastal Divisions, this is probably the right time to revisit the alignment instead of simply swapping out Maryland for Louisville. Before Louisville was added, I felt the most logical move was to make a Boston College for Georgia Tech swap, sending the Eagles to the Coastal and the Jackets to the Atlantic.
That realignment reunited Boston College with Miami, Pittsburgh and Virginia Tech while aligning with other like-institutions Duke, North Carolina and Virginia. Similarly, Georgia Tech would join Clemson, Florida State and Wake Forest in the Atlantic -- the Jackets three closest geographic neighbors.
Taking this a step further, I would propose swapping Clemson for Miami. Going forward, the conference should put their eggs in an annual Florida State-Clemson, not Florida State-Miami, ACC Championship Game matchup. This sets up the possibility of an FSU-Clemson championship game tilt as well as giving the 'Noles an annual game against its three biggest conference rivals.
Florida St. Seminoles
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
N.C. State Wolfpack
Wake Forest Demon Deacons
Boston College Eagles
Duke Blue Devils
North Carolina Tar Heels
Virginia Tech Hokies
Crossover rivals: Georgia Tech-Virginia Tech, Miami-Boston College, Florida State-Clemson, Louisville-Pittsburgh, N.C. State-North Carolina, Syracuse-Virginia and Wake Forest-Duke
A Syracuse for Virginia swap doesn't do much for the Cavaliers -- we are talking an extra two games all-time over Virginia-Louisville -- but this does give UVa back one of its original ACC conference mates in Clemson. Virginia-Georgia Tech seems like a loss but doesn't seem as much of a stretch if you reunite UVa with Clemson.
There are a bunch of other benefits to this realignment -- BC gets Miami back on the yearly schedule for one. Moving Florida State vs. Miami within the division seems to put even greater importance on the game, while setting up the possibility of an FSU-Clemson rematch in the title game. It's been eight years since the ACC moved to the two divisional format. At what point does the conference figure out that the long-awaited Florida State-Miami ACC Championship Game -- which would have actually happened this year if not for Miami's self-imposed NCAA postseason ban -- isn't worth maintaining divisions that make little sense?