You thought we were done with all those college expansion and realignment talk, didn't you? Oh, it'll never be over, my sweet. Not so long as there's still money to be made.
Chip Brown, whose track record on such things is dubious so take it with a grain of salt, threw a new-ish wrinkle out there this week when he said the Power 5 Conferences (ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12, SEC) are in the midst of colluding in order to collectively bargain their own TV contract. The end game? To split off and basically become its own entity within college football.
Part of the deal, says Brown, would be that the conferences would in effect join together into one league. From there, the gerrymandered setup that we see now would go away and the league would be split into geographically-sensible divisions.
Brown is just spit-balling but he figured you could split everyone up into six divisions, with a Northeast division looking like this...
Syracuse Orange, Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Penn State Nittany Lions, Pittsburgh Panthers, West Virginia Mountaineers, Boston College Eagles, Louisville Cardinals, Kentucky Wildcats, Vanderbilt Commodores, Maryland Terrapins, Rutgers Scarlet Knights.
Our roundtable question...would you rather be in a division/conference like that or would you rather stay as things are in the ACC?
The most important part of getting into the ACC was securing Syracuse's future as a power player in football. No matter how mixed the results have been on the field in the last decade, Syracuse is involved as the haves continue to separate from the have nots in the sport (hi UConn!). While the ACC is lightyears better for Syracuse than the current alternatives, if the leagues were to essentially join together and go with this division breakdown, it would probably benefit Syracuse a ton on the field. Playing in a division where Notre Dame and Penn State, as tough as they can be, are the marquee games instead of Florida State and Clemson would definitely help SU stay competitive. I'm a little concerned about how such a Northeast-based division would affect recruiting, but I think the positives would outweigh the negatives here.
Looking at strictly the divisions, hell yes Brown's conference is better. Syracuse would basically get to play old rivals we have some history with and a much much much better chance of shining on the national stage seeing that PSU, ND and WVU are teams we've beat at their peaks before. In terms of a holistic approach, mimicking what Dan said, recruiting might be affected but the only way this scenario happens is if everyone gets an equal shot of being on TV a whole bunch across the nation. That means Cuse-PSU, ND and WVU would be shown outside of the bubble.
I've been saying for the last 3 years that the next step is the P5 completely breaking away. I think the one hold up is March Madness, but as Brown points out, the tv money for football is too big to ignore and I think intelligent people could figure out the basketball tournament side of things. By mentioning Patterson, Brown also shows why this might occur sooner than later- college AD's pushing for this because they can't figure out a way to control spending, so they are always seeking more revenue streams. I think overall Syracuse would probably see a bigger benefit from the proposed alignment because Penn State and Notre Dame seem to resonate with more of the football fan-base and having Kentucky basketball wouldn't hurt either. FB recruiting might see another shift in areas of focus, but having a better chance to win games isn't a bad outcome.
I would prefer that to Syracuse's current position, yes. No offense to our ACC foes, but the ones that we either stand a chance to beat or would prefer to play most would be in that hypothetical "Northeast" division anyway. And along with those current conference-mates we ALSO get Notre Dame, West Virginia, Penn State, Maryland AND fellow private school Vandy? Again: Sign me up. Of course this whole situation exists without basketball, and I can't say I'm dying to join that league in that sport. But for football only, this really is a best-case scenario without completely hitting restart. We stay in a power conference, probably get a more competitive draw year-in and year-out AND make more money than we do now, too. There is absolutely zero drawback for the Orange in this format -- something only a handful of other schools can say.
It's only a matter of time before this happens. It's the logical conclusion to realignment and autonomy and the changing college athletics landscape. I don't know if the division setup would happen that way but if you told me the P5 conferences were breaking off and banning together, give me that new setup and let's go. So many traditional rivals back in the fold on a yearly basis, so many more opponents that we can measure up against and it just makes sense that Syracuse should be surrounded by Northeastern schools. It's not the strongest of those divisions and it doesn't fix the inequality across the nation but I don't think SU should care about that. We should care about being in a position to win games while also playing games that make sense. I'd love to see this happen.
How about you?