On Friday afternoon, Atlantic Coast Conference commissioner John Swofford announced the new alignment of the conference following the addition of the Syracuse Orange and the Pittsburgh Panthers from the Big East. It remains unclear when their current conference will release their death grip and allow them to join the ACC.
With the league growing to 14 teams, a new division breakdown was struck, and both the ACC Atlantic and ACC Coastal will be seven-team divisions. Pittsburgh will join the ACC Coastal, but Syracuse will join Boston College as part of the Atlantic. Furthermore, with the larger conference, the league football schedule will expand to nine games for each team, as opposed to eight now. The current division “crossover” partnering will continue, so expect BC to keep playing Virginia Tech for the foreseeable future.
As for basketball, where there are no divisions about which to worry, the league schedule will grow from 16 games to 18. This will start next season, according to the ACC release, regardless of whether or not Syracuse or Pitt are able to leave the Big East and join for 2012-13.
When Syracuse and Pitt join, a new set of two-game partnerships will take effect, meaning in layman’s terms that those two teams will play at each others’ home arenas once each season. Each ACC team will play every other ACC team at least once per year, with the doubling-up of opponents happening on a three-year cyclical basis.
The partnerships were announced as follows:
• Boston College and Syracuse
• Clemson and Georgia Tech
• Duke and North Carolina
• NC State and Wake Forest
• Florida State and Miami
• Maryland and Pittsburgh
• Virginia and Virginia Tech
Long story short, the rivalry between Boston College and Syracuse that existed prior to 2005 will resume when they join the conference. The two schools have been tied to one another by the conference and are going to see each other every season and football and twice in the basketball regular season. Beyond that, the football division alignment and basketball pairings appear to make sense regionally and in terms of rivalries. Speaking only for myself, I believe the ACC got it right.
With regards to football scheduling, there is a touch of concern that the ACC going to nine conference games will wipe out one of the non-conference opponents. I am not entirely concerned. Assuming Pittsburgh and Syracuse join for 2013, well, BC was scheduled to play Syracuse, anyway, and it’s the same for 2014. I think this actually works out very nicely.
In terms of basketball, I remember the “Juice the ‘Cuse” game in 2005, my freshman year, and there was a tremendous buzz around the basketball program when that happened. With any luck, that will continue when this series is revived on an annual basis. Including the fact that BC regularly gets good teams showing up at Conte, including Duke and North Carolina every so often, adding Syracuse and Pittsburgh to the mix will help bring crowds back a little bit with what we all hope is an improving team.
I could not help but notice this snippet from the recap of the 2005 BC/Syracuse game, however:
A hockey school which has always been slow to get excited about its revenue sports, Saturday’s game attracted some rare attention from the student body and the Boston fans still basking in the Patriots’ success and looking excitedly toward Red Sox spring training.
It is amazing how little has changed in the last seven years.