Friday, February 21, 2014
Mailblog: Your take on the ACC divisions
By Heather Dinich
First, let me say this: I've gotten no indication from any athletic directors or league officials that there will be any changes to the ACC's current divisions. It has never really been seriously discussed. That doesn't mean, though, that we can't discuss it -- especially as Louisville prepares to enter the league and make the Atlantic Division even more top-heavy. You guys had plenty of thoughts on it, so this space is for you:
Billy in Arlington, VA writes: Regarding your plea for the ACC to change divisions due to the heavyweights in the Atlantic Division, I think that's quite a bit premature. Yes, Clemson and FSU have been very tough lately ... but for how long? I'd say maybe 4 years. Where were the pleas for divisional realignment when Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech were winning the ACC every single year? If there's one thing history will tell us about college football, is that elite programs have a tough time staying elite forever. Remember all those bad years for USC, Texas, Miami, FSU, Nebraska, etc.? Sure, those programs have history in their favor, but a few very good years is hardly reason to start arguing for divisional realignment. That logic is precisely the reason the college football landscape has changed so drastically (for the worse in my opinion) over recent years ... people are too quick to NEED change.
Ronny in Edgemoor, SC writes: Hi Heather, Enjoyed and agree with your article, It is time for the divisions to change. As a fan, it makes no sense to (keep) the divisions as they are. A more logical North-South format would be better and allow more fans to travel to away games because more would be more local or regional games, (than) if we are stuck in the traditional divisional format. The blue collar worker is earning less money today, yet costs keep rising. Cutting travel miles would help with ticket sales. It is sad to see so many empty seats on the TV screens at ACC stadiums.
Michael in Atlanta, GA writes: Heather, Saw your article on competitive balance. I love the idea of some flexibility on scheduling and championship games, but if they keep the current divisions I don't think there's actually an long-term advantage to making changes. If we pretend Syracuse, Pitt, and Louisville had been in the ACC in their current divisional homes, we can do some quick number-crunching. Over the last three years, the average Atlantic division team won 7.8 games, and the average division champ won 12.0. The Coastal compares at 6.9 and 9.7. Hence the perception of being weaker. But over the previous three years, the Coastal's average was 7.4 with a champ at 10.7, while the Atlantic was 6.6 and 9.3. Almost the reverse situation. So sure, we could re-arrange divisions to make things more balanced ... but are we going to do it again every 2-4 years? Or every time one division has two top-ten teams? Sure, Clemson and FSU look the best now, but VT and Miami have been there before. Just set it up where each team has 3 teams they play every year, plus 5 others one year, the other 5 the next. Everyone plays everyone home and away every four years, all legitimate natural rivalries are preserved (no team can really claim more than 3 rivals), and the schedule may not be perfectly balanced but it'll be less random than it is now.
Could ACC commissioner John Swofford have a more competitive league if he moved teams to different divisions?
rtXC1 in Denison, TX writes: The Big 12 had the biggest division imbalance of any league ever, and still prospered, sending 5 champions and 2 non-champs to 7 title games in 10 seasons. That was with only 12 schools. The ACC has 14 schools and maintains the 8-game conference schedule, so there are less opportunities for the conference to "cannibalize" itself. The divisions shouldn't be a problem, especially as the Coastal is much better than the Big 12 North was.
Gregory Breitenbeck in Boone, NC writes: Heather, I wanted to express my thoughts to you and your readers but I don't have a Facebook account (and don't want one). Many of your readers are spot on that relative strength in the ACC will wax and wane. Realignment should focus on improving the product delivered to the schools supporters. Accordingly, I suggest the following: Atlantic Division -- Florida State, Georgia Tech, Clemson, North Carolina, NC State, Duke, Wake Forest. Coastal Division -- Miami, Virginia Tech, Boston College, Syracuse, Pittsburgh, Louisville, Virginia. If we expand to include Notre Dame and another northern school such as Navy, put those schools in the Coastal and move Virginia back to where it belongs in the Atlantic. I'd appreciate your getting these thoughts into a future column.
Dave in Baltimore, MD writes: I know people love to talk about re-aligning divisions, but you can't re-align them every time one division gets hot. When divisions first started I would argue that the Coastal was much stronger with FSU and Clemson both being down at the time. With a slight drop off of Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech, and Miami and UNC never quite getting to the top, the Atlantic is now the stronger division with the resurgence of FSU and Clemson. I think you're also making a lot of assumptions based on end of season rankings that the Atlantic will have three top 15 teams. Key losses and rising stars can have a major impact on a team’s performance from year to year and I definitely think Louisville and Clemson have some spots to fill, as I'm sure FSU will lose some key players to the draft also. I think there are too many variables year to year to just re-align divisions every time a team gets hot. I can see the argument that maybe Louisville should have been put into the Coastal division when they joined the league, but it’s too late for that now as the league schedule has already been set. I would also argue what is even the point of having divisions if it is just going to be the top two teams in the BCS playing in the title game? But that may be an argument for another day ...