The ACC’s newest schools were assigned to their respective divisions Friday, providing more clarity to the new-look conference that will contain 14 teams.
Although it’s unclear when Pittsburgh and Syracuse will actually be members of the ACC due to the Big East’s 27-month waiting period that they have yet to waive, the ACC’s winter meetings revealed that the two newbies will be split up in separate football divisions. No realignment other than that will occur, ending rumors that other teams may be shuffled between divisions.
Syracuse will play in the ACC’s Atlantic Division, which contains FSU, Clemson, Wake Forest, Boston College, NC State and Maryland. Pittsburgh will play in the Coastal Division with Georgia Tech, Miami, Duke, North Carolina, Virginia and Virginia Tech.
This will add another divisional matchup to the fold, so to keep the balance, the ACC also announced that they will be increasing the number of in-conference games to nine per year. Previously, each team had eight ACC games, so in an effort to keep the 12-game schedule in tact, one nonconference game per year will have to be removed.
I think this is a good thing, because there were too many team in the conference playing two FCS cupcakes per year (FSU included). With most teams having an out-of-conference rivalry that they’ll need to keep up, I think more teams will move away from playing the small schools twice and play an FBS team two out of three nonconference games. Hopefully, they’ll try to move themselves away from those cupcakes altogether, but I doubt it.
With six games per year against divisional foes and one game with their cross-division rival, that will leave two games per year to rotate with the other six teams in the opposite conference. So only once every three years will cross-division non-rivals meet.
Confused yet? It’s OK — you may have a couple of years to figure out all the math.
I think this bodes well for Florida State, because I’m more worried about Pitt becoming a decent football team than Syracuse. I may be wrong about that, but it just seems like Pitt puts more emphasis on being good on the football field. It doesn’t make geographic sense though, since Pittsburgh would be closer than that trip to Syracuse every other year.
And since football is really the only sport where the divisions matter (I’m not too worried about either school’s baseball team), I’m pleased with the decision to move the Orange to the Atlantic.
The other important matter agreed upon today at the meetings: all 14 teams will play every year in the ACC Basketball Tournament, a good sign for the group as a whole.
Nobody should be left out of the basketball tournament, and I have no idea why any conference has that policy. It looks like the ACC took a couple of steps in the right direction today.