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Syracuse Football: Would the Orange Be Better Off in the ACC's Coastal Division?

This question comes up from time to time, and rightfully so given the divisional imbalances the league deals with.

Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

What if the Syracuse Orange had been in the Coastal Division this whole time?

We've all wondered it as the Orange have trudged through three pretty lean years sharing the Atlantic Division with Clemson and Florida State, and Louisville for the most recent two seasons as well. SU didn't look half-bad out of the gate, going 4-4 in year one with wins over Boston College, Wake Forest, Maryland and NC State. But since, the Orange are just 3-13 in the ACC, with all three victories over Wake (twice) and BC.

Ends up we're not the only ones curious if our fortunes would turn just by switching places with the Pittsburgh Panthers in the Coastal. Earlier today on ESPN's ACC Blog, Andrea Adelson tried out the same theory, using the World Wide Leader's FPI metric to grab results.

The differences were not that large for either school. Syracuse would've gotten 1.7 less wins in the Coastal in 2013, 1.3 more in 2014 and just 0.4 more last season. Pitt, conversely, would've lost 0.8 wins in 2013, lost 0.1 and lost a full 2.1 wins in 2015 -- which was considered a "breakout" season for that program in many respects.

When they ran the numbers for 2016, Syracuse gained 0.7 wins, while Pitt lost 0.8.

FPI is fine, but I'm tempted to be a little more swayed by data from Bill Connelly's F/+ method. Below is where things would've netted out using that metric for the last three seasons. Keep in mind that rather than looking at the incremental win expectancy per game, we're just doing a run of "based on F/+, how many of these go your way?" Not as scientific as the former, admittedly. If someone's better at these sorts of things, shoot me a message.

Actual 2013 Switch 2013 Actual 2014 Switch 2014 Actual 2015 Switch 2015
Syracuse 4 1 1 0 2 0
Pittsburgh 3 4 4 4 6 4

So, uhhhh... yeah, not at all what you'd expect. Obviously this could skew a bit differently looking at per-game win expectancy percentages, vs. flat "which F/+ is better." Pitt isn't really done any favors by this method, either, however.

Looking at 2016, Pitt would go 5-3 against Syracuse's ACC schedule, while the Orange would go 3-5 against the Panthers' slate.


Since divisions are not high on anyone's list for the ACC right now, we'll just have to stand pat. And maybe that's for the best at moment? Based on the above, things could potentially be worse off for SU in the Coastal than they are in the Atlantic. Yeah, we have those annual dates with Florida State, Clemson and Louisville. But those also come with Wake Forest and Boston College too.

This shouldn't sell anyone one way or the other, but at least it's a look at what could be.

Do you agree that the switch wouldn't do much? Or do you prefer facing UNC and Duke far more often? Weigh in below.