Well, timing is everything.
Just last week, I explained the ACC’s current 16-game basketball schedule to those who don’t know, or care, how it works. Thought my breakdown of the two permanent partners, three-year rotation of three temporary partners and the one-at-home, one-on-the-road format was pretty clear. Didn’t you?
So what happens? Even though the ACC does not know when Pitt and Syracuse are joining the league, the brain trust in Greensboro has already come up with the new formula – or at least part of it. Only one permanent partner remains, such as Duke and UNC, which will play home-and-home every year.
The other 12 teams will pair up for their new permanent partner that, I assure you, will have no rhyme or reason behind each mating. No wonder the great experiment to expand the ACC for football reasons has ruined a bunch of old rivalries and left the league slightly ahead of the beleaguered Big East among the so-called BCS conferences.
So, before it’s too late, here is the Chansky Plan for basketball realignment (they could use it in football, too).
Two seven-school divisions.
In the North would be, voila, the northern schools: Syracuse, Pitt, Boston College, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Maryland AND Duke, because all the Dukies are from New Jersey anyway.
The South Division would have the remaining Big Three schools from North Carolina, Clemson, Georgia Tech, Florida State and Miami.
The schools would play everyone in their own division home and home for 12 games and have their permanent partner come from the other division (+2 games), which leaves a neat six teams remaining to play three at home and three on the road each season. That, of course, adds up to a 20-game conference schedule. The great sadness in such a move would be the dropping of two November-December cupcake opponents that should never be scheduled and result in blow-out games and blow-off crowds. Goodbye, Nichols State and Presbyterian. Boo-hoo.
The two divisions would also represent the upper and lower brackets in the ACC Tournament, and the worst a coach can say about his team in a recruit’s home is “we finished seventh in the ACC North (or South) but you can help us improve on that.” A lot better than trying to explain why you finished 13th or 14th in the overall conference.
The plan would have Carolina, State and Wake Forest playing each other home and away each season, since they would be in the same division. Duke doesn’t care about playing any of the other Big Four schools twice beyond UNC because the Blue Devils have become a “national program.”
So, besides Duke and Carolina, how would the remaining 12 schools pick their permanent partners from the other division? Here’s my idea.
Syracuse and Pitt would get Florida State and Miami, respectively, so the players and coaches from those two dreary winter cities would be assured of seeing some sunshine at least once during the season.
The two colleges – BC and “State College” – sound like a good match. Same for the two “Techies” – from Virginia and Georgia.
Likewise for the two egghead schools, Virginia and Wake Forest, one founded in Charlottesville by slave owner and tobacco farmer Thomas Jefferson and the other moved to Winston-Salem from north of Raleigh through a rather large grant from the R.J. Reynolds Foundation.
That leaves Maryland and Clemson, who can renew their un-Civil War from the old days when Lefty Driesell slept in his car while wooing recruits and Tates Locke just left bags of money on their kitchen tables. On the court, their teams talked trash and occasionally squared off.
Now that’s the ACC I remember, when the coaches were characters in plaid jackets who almost never made nice to each other and the kids came from all over the country to play on Tobacco Road.
We’ll never get back there because the TV networks want so many intersectional games to collect maximum eyeballs. But at least with two permanent partners that never rotate and home-and-home series with existing geographic if not natural rivals, the ACC will still play enough games across divisions while regaining some semblance of a cohesive conference.
Write to your commissioner today while there is still time to adopt my plan!