Just like the Big East had (and has) its purists that prefer a time when the league was smaller and had its core membership intact, the ACC has plenty of those as well. Obviously, as members of the later expansion wave, the Syracuse Orange are not among the first picks for a hypothetically slimmed down ACC.
Most old school ACC fans focus on eight- or nine-team setups for what they’d want to go back to. So instead of fighting that concept, we take the popular concept of “you can only pick X” to conference realignment.
Simple rules for this hypothetical: The ACC wants to go back to nine teams (which it had from 1991-2004), and that membership can include whichever of the current 15 schools you want. While you can choose to emphasize one sport over another, the idea here is to create the best all-sports conference you can. This will inevitably piss people off, but that’s how these exercises usually work.
Obviously pick whichever teams you want, but here’s who I’d go with:
Clemson, Duke, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Miami, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Syracuse, Virginia
Without going deep on every selection, SU’s in there because “duh.” Notre Dame, UNC and Virginia are present for having some of the best overall athletic programs in the country. Clemson and FSU for football prowess. Duke to make sure we nod to hoops one more time. Miami and GT are there for markets and football potential.
Is this league perfect? Nope. But it’s going to be very hard to make one that is when limited to just nine of the current 15 ACC schools. Who would you pick? Share your own ideas below.