Tuesday, January 27, 2015

UNC-Wake Show How Mega Conference Can Be Too Big

UNC-Wake Forest may not be a well known national
rivalry, but it is very important to the schools
I like the fact that Syracuse, Notre Dame and Louisville are now in the ACC.  I like the fact that the ACC was proactive in the conference realignment game.  However, I'm not a fan of the mega-conferences and the wreckage they've left behind.

This is pointed out in the fact that UNC and Wake Forest have agreed to play a non-conference series at the end of the decade.  UNC and Wake Forest have played each other pretty much annually for 125 years and are just miles apart in the state of North Carolina.  However, they are placed in separate divisions in the ACC and will have to wait until 2022 to play again after their scheduled game this coming season.

Neither school likes that.

So they scheduled this "non-conference" series in 2019 and 2021.  It won't count in the standings, however, but it will be a game against a Power 5 opponent and one the schools want to see and players want to play.

While I've never been totally against expanding conferences, I rather the NCAA just put a cap on them at 10 teams.  Then we'd have a 9-game regular football season where you play everyone once and an 18-game hoops season where you play everyone twice.  Instead, you can go 7 years before playing a team you used to play every year for nearly a century.

I got thinking about this the other day.  The North Carolina Tar Heels have opened up their ACC schedule with 8 games in traditional ACC country.  Five in Chapel Hill and road trips to Clemson, Raleigh and Winston-Salem.  Sure, not all of those games are against traditional ACC foes (Louisville, Notre Dame and Syracuse are in that lot) but it reminds me of the days where the ACC ... like most conferences .... were geographically centralized.

For so long, the ACC extended from Washington DC (Maryland) down to Clemson SC.  That's not a huge area.  Georgia Tech came in the early 1980s and Florida State extended the league further south in the early 1990s.  The league is certainly bigger and arguably better due to the expansion but it sucks to see traditional rivals have to resort to cooky scheduling tactics just to see each other.

I know people tend to rip on the Big Four ACC schools because they think the league favors them.  Maybe.  But those four are so close in distance with a lot of great history between them all that it makes up the very fabric of the league.  That isn't just the ACC.  It happened all over the nation, including the Big East who saw many of its teams merge into this new ACC.

If the cap was at 10, then the ACC would've added Miami in the early 2000s like they wished and it would be done.  The Big East would still be around and we'd have those nice compact conferences that don't see Rutgers in the Big Ten, West Virginia in the Big 12, Missouri in the SEC and Creighton in the Big East.  Hey, I've done this before.

All I know is that the ACC may trend this way to make sure some of these local rivalries keep going.

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