Virginia Tech and Clemson will play only twice every 12 years in expanded ACC.

Virginia Tech and Clemson will play only twice every 12 years in expanded ACC. (June 7, 2013)

No matter how many times I ask, the answer never changes. No, the ACC is not considering divisional realignment in football. No, despite considerable fan and media buzz, the issue is a non-starter among decision makers.

Most recently, I asked commissioner John Swofford last month and the athletic directors from Virginia Tech and Virginia, Jim Weaver and Craig Littlepage, this week. Neither anticipates changing the current Atlantic-Coastal split, the core of which has been in place since the conference expanded to 12 schools for the 2005 season.

The primary defense of the status quo is the balanced results they’ve produced. Atlantic Division teams are 75-69 against the Coastal in eight regular seasons, 4-4 in ACC championship contests.

But should balance be the top consideration? Would the league be better-served to produce games that sell more tickets and attract larger TV audiences?

The Big Ten’s new divisions – Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State and Penn State are grouped together – appear to side with fans and television.    

Altering the ACC’s divisions became a lively topic again Tuesday when the conference released its schedule rotation for the 2014-24 seasons. The announcement detailed what had been known in theory for months: Some of the conference’s most attractive football matchups – think Georgia Tech-Florida State, Virginia Tech-Florida State and Virginia Tech-Clemson – will occur only twice every 12 years with the league’s growth to 14 teams.

Many, including the Raleigh News & Observer’s Andrew Carter and the Clemson-centric, advocate a North-South split, with Miami in the North an outlier. But as you can see below, what this does is Balkanize the conference into the old ACC and the old Big East, with Virginia as an exception.


BC           Wake Forest

UofL      Georgia Tech

Pitt         North Carolina

Syr          Duke

VT           Clemson

Miami   Florida State

UVa       N.C. State

The biggest, and perhaps only, advantage to this set-up would be assuring that the ACC’s four North Carolina teams play one another each season, which certainly would please Tobacco Road traditionalists and goose ticket sales at those schools.

Presuming the current schedule format of eight league games – I prefer nine – with an annual crossover opponent, the only way this alignment approaches appealing is if the crossovers include Miami-Florida State and Virginia Tech-Clemson.

Neither Carter nor identified yearly crossover rivalries, so I took the liberty of listing their divisions in order of the best such matchups.

Regardless, if I’m Virginia or Virginia Tech, I fight such a split for all I’m worth.

A better idea comes from WRAL radio’s Adam Gold, who moves Louisville and Boston College from the Atlantic to Coastal, in exchange for Georgia Tech and Pittsburgh. So here’s his proposal, also with annual crossovers listed in order.