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Conference Realignment: Where Syracuse Could Have Ended Up Five Years Ago

Five years ago, realignment was awful disruptive. It worked out for Syracuse, but... what if it hadn't?

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

We all know what happened five years ago in college sports. Nebraska went to the Big Ten. Colorado headed to the (then) Pac-10, and Texas sat around and considered heading West as well, along with a good portion of the Big 12.

It didn't happen, thankfully, and the "four power conferences of 16" setup we all dreaded at the time would not come to be. Syracuse didn't move anywhere in that initial shuffling period, but then under the cover of night that same September, the Orange and Pitt were suddenly heading to the ACC. Things worked out for us and a lot of other schools over the last five years (save UConn and Cincinnati, really), but... what if they hadn't?

Over on the mothership today, Bill Connelly takes a look at what would've happened if Texas (with Colorado, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and Utah) had joined the Pac-10. The rest of those dominoes are a terrifying, exciting glut of possibilities. We quickly mention the first few below, before getting to SU's hypothetical fate:

1. Missouri and Rutgers join the Big Ten.

2. Maryland, N.C. State, Texas A&M and West Virginia join the SEC.

3. Georgia Tech and North Carolina join the Big Ten.

And then...

Cincinnati, Kansas, Louisville, Pittsburgh, Syracuse and UConn (and sort of Notre Dame) join the ACC.


Great? I mean, this one view of the dominoes that truly could've fallen down in those months had Texas elected to leave the Big 12. If you asked me (and since I used to write almost exclusively about realignment, maybe you did ask me), the following goes down pretty quickly instead:

1. Missouri, Kansas, Rutgers and Maryland join the Big Ten.

2. Syracuse joins the ACC.

3. N.C. State, Texas A&M, Virginia Tech and West Virginia join the SEC.

4. UConn, Pittsburgh and Louisville join the ACC.

Similar results, but the main takeaways for us are that UConn ends up joining the ACC either way, and in my scenario, the ACC also gets to keep North Carolina and Georgia Tech around (instead of them going to the Big Ten). With the Big 12 out of the picture, there's nowhere for Florida State and Clemson to go due to that long-rumored gentlemen's agreement not to double up states where they're not doubled up already.

But in Bill's scenario, let's look at the ACC we may have joined, instead of what we're in right now:

North: Boston College, Cincinnati, Connecticut, Kansas, Louisville, Pittsburgh, Syracuse

South: Clemson, Duke, Florida State, Miami, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest

Right off the bat, the pros are a) we get to be in a division that makes sense geographically, b) we still get to play Boston College every year, and c) we don't have to be in the same division as Florida State and/or Clemson. Cons, to name a few: a) less exposure to Florida, b) we have to go to Kansas AND/OR Connecticut every year, c) UConn's here.


So would that have been better or worse? You could argue we could replicate the pros of the above by just fixing the ACC's current, stupid divisional structure, but as far as the conference's overall health and wellness, the above obviously falls short compared to the current reality. This league above is the odds-on "worst" power conference every year (as opposed to sort-of worst now) and despite a clearer path to a league title game for Syracuse above, the actual reality probably creates a better league for the totality of its members.

But what do you think? Would you rather have alt-ACC or the current one? Or maybe a different option? Realign yourselves to death below.