The ACC is imploding and it’s not a matter of if, but when at this point. If you’ve missed what’s going on because you ignore college football news when it’s not football season, then I will gladly inform you of two things – 1. College football is a year-round sport…you’ve been warned. 2. The ACC attempted to use Muhammed Ali’s rope-a-dope method by backing their members, most notably Clemson and Florida St., into the rope and try to dodge enough bad publicity to win. By rushing into a 10-year, flat rate, revenue sharing contract with ESPN, the ACC has ruined their members’ chances to grow along with the big boys of college football (see the SEC and Big 10). To simplify what this means, for the next 10 years, no matter how much money the ACC makes for ESPN with the TV deal, schools will not make a penny more than they signed up for at the finalization of the contract AND your highly viewed/marketable teams like Clemson and Florida St. will make the same amount as your non-viewed/unmarketable teams like Boston College or Wake Forest. Hopefully this makes sense – I used my whole brain cell to write these details.
Now for the fun part, when the ACC collapses, where does everyone go? In this fun little exercise, I will move each school to their new home and give you my opinion on why I think that school will fit there.
NOTE: I will include Notre Dame in this exercise as their TV contract with NBC (which has allowed them to be independent in football expires in 2024)
- Boston College – AAC (Group of 5): I do not think Boston College survives as a “Power 5” school after the ACC goes under. However, if they are going to fall out of college athletic royalty, the AAC is the place to land. The AAC is losing Houston, UCF, and Cincinnati so gaining Boston College would work out. It would also be a sort of homecoming as the AAC is the rebranded Big East conference, which Boston College was a founding member of.
- Clemson – SEC: I believe the Big 10 and SEC will make a bid for Clemson, but the SEC will win (good to see the underdog get one, right?). Clemson’s biggest rival, South Carolina, is in the SEC plus and old rivalry that they used to have with Georgia will be restored. There are also (3) other schools that Clemson has “rivalries” with in Alabama (multiple post-season battles in the last decade), Auburn (disputes over which came first and who robbed who of team colors), and LSU (who has the “real” Death Valley). This fit is just perfect.
- Duke – AAC (Group of 5): Duke makes its money in basketball, so why not join the powerhouse of basketball conference in the AAC? I think this will take some convincing and some peer pressure from (spoilers) Syracuse and Pitt, but I think this is the best route for Duke and they know it. I think the Big 10 is a dark horse, but the AAC just makes too much sense.
- Florida St. – SEC: Like Clemson, this fit just makes too much sense. Florida St. has a great football history, has a rivalry with current SEC member Florida, and has the culture fit that the other SEC schools have.
- Georgia Tech – Big 10: Georgia Tech, in terms of athletics, does not belong in a “Power 5” conference. However, in terms in academics and in terms of regional exposure, Georgia Tech is a very desirable member. Georgia Tech gives the Big 10 access to the Atlanta market and access to the Southeast – the biggest college football market. This will boost the value of the Big 10’s TV deal immensely (take notes ACC, this is how you’re supposed to make a TV deal…).
- Louisville – Big 12: Louisville is a very strange school. They are good and can compete in any sport, they aren’t afraid of hiring anyone to coach their teams, yet, they suck at everything and can’t keep a coach due to performance on and/or off the field. However, I think Louisville fits in nicely in the Big 12, who is scrambling to stay relevant with the Big 10 and SEC amidst losing their two biggest members (Texas and Oklahoma). Plus, doesn’t Louisville just seem like a Big 12 school?
- Miami – Big 10: This is another tough one, but I think with another school joining the Big 10 (not spoiling this one, but the real college footballees know who I’m referencing) they will jump at the opportunity to play them and renew a classic polarizing rivalry. I think the SEC and Big 12 will make a run with Miami, but they will decide on the Big 10.
- North Carolina St. – Big 12: NC St. is the red-headed stepchild of “Power 5” college football. They are good enough to beat almost anyone and also bad enough to lose to anyone. I think the Big 10 and SEC will turn their noses up at them. So here they are, the red-headed stepchild of college football is in the red-headed stepchild conference – the new Island of Misfit Toys if you will.
- North Carolina – Big 10: The SEC wants the North Carolina market, but so does the Big 10. Due to North Carolina’s multi-sport success, academics, and fast rising football program, they can have their pick of the litter. I think they will opt for the Big 10 after a lot of speculation and leaning both ways – maybe they’ll do a ceremony and pick up the hat of the conference of their choosing?
- Notre Dame – Big 10: This is a match made in heaven. Regional fit? Check. Rivalries? Check (see Ohio St., Michigan, USC, and Miami). Academic prowess? Check. And lastly, football success and tradition? CHECK. This, like the collapse of the ACC and a broken clock being right twice a day, is bound to happen.
- Pitt – AAC (Group of 5): Pitt was a big member in the Big East before its rebranding (collapse). But unlike most things in life, they get a second chance to make it a formidable conference. This conference will go back to dominating basketball and may even be decent at football.
- Syracuse – AAC (Group of 5): Syracuse is the other basketball powerhouse to jump over to the AAC. They, like Boston College, were founding members of the Big East and will be the prodigal son to lead them back to the promise land.
- Virginia – SEC: Now this one is going to be a fun battle to watch. Apparently, Virginia and Virginia Tech are somewhat of a “package deal.” So, whoever gets one, is almost guaranteed to get the other. I think the Big 10 will come close and at the 11th hour will be usurped by the SEC (another feel-good win by the underdog).
- Virginia Tech – SEC: As mentioned above, Virginia Tech and Virginia seem to be a package deal. I think both schools’ academic prowess make them appealing, and Virginia Tech’s history in college football is what makes the SEC snatch the Commonwealth crew out of the jaw of the Big 10.
- Wake Forest – Sun Belt (Group of 5): Wake Forest is done with “Power 5” attendance. The most crucial blow to Wake Forest’s sales pitch for “Power 5” relevance is the lack of fanbase. Go back and watch the Clemson Wake Forest matchup from 2022. A rare, ranked matchup (Clemson 5 and Wake Forest 21) and the stands that weren’t vacant, were predominantly occupied by fans wearing orange. If your fans can’t get up for a top 25 matchup (with their best chance to beat Clemson that they’ve had in a while) then you don’t deserve to be a “Power 5” school. The Sun Belt works for regionality and for athletic success.
|Big 10||Big 12||Pac 12||SEC|
|Miami||Kansas||Oregon St.||Florida St.|
|Minnesota||North Carolina St.||Washington||LSU|
|Nebraska||Oklahoma St.||Washington St.||Mississippi St.|
|Notre Dame||*UCF||Ole Miss|
|Ohio St.||West Virginia||South Carolina|
|* = School already set to join|
Italics = Post-implosion ACC team
If you have made it to this point in the article, you are the insane fanatic who stays until the end credits of a movie are complete just to make sure you don’t miss a thing – this is why I love and appreciate you. If you liked this article, please check out my and my fellow writers content at The Walk-On Redshirts.