ACC the Fifth Wheel of Realignment
By Joey Accordino
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Florida State’s public flirtation with the Big 12 and the new SEC-Big 12 megabowl underscore the irrelevance of the ACC on the national scale.
Have you ever been out to dinner with four of your best friends, except those four friends just so happen to be two sets of couples? You may be having a good time, but deep down, you know you’re not needed. Sure, your friends are happy you’re there, but when it really comes down to it, they could do without you. That undeniable fact--that you are merely the footnote to their evening—is something that everybody knows, but nobody says. You are the fifth wheel.
If you, like me, have been in this situation before, you know exactly how the Atlantic Coast Conference is feeling right now. In a college football world where four conferences reign supreme (the SEC, the Big Ten, the Pac 12, and the Big 12), the ACC is the odd man out.
You may already be familiar with the most damning number associated with the ACC’s wretchedness: 2-13 in BCS bowls, including 0-2 in 2012. Yet even more worrisome than the putrid on-field product is the conference realignment saga that has gripped college football for the last two years, which is threatening to leave the ACC even further behind.
Ironically, it was the ACC that spurred much of the modern-day realignment, nabbing Miami, Virginia Tech, and Boston College from the Big East in an attempt to form a football superpower that would rival the SEC. Unless you are just awaking from a nine-year coma, you understand how laughable the idea of the ACC challenging the SEC is today. The bluebloods-Miami and Florida State-have historically underachieved since the three schools were added, and most of the other ACC members have ranged from embarrassing to mediocre.
While watching conferences like the SEC and Big 10 load up on powerhouse programs may be troubling to ACC Commissioner John Swofford, two recent events are causing further anxiety: Florida State’s flirtation with the Big 12, and the addition of a new bowl between the Big 12 and SEC.
Though Florida State’s public comments about the Big 12’s attractiveness may not result in immediate action, they served to accentuate an important point: everybody hates the ACC. Consider this: Florida State-from their administrators to their coaches-fawned over a league that recently lost two key members, has a geographical base several states away, and lacks any natural rival for the Seminoles. The Big 12 may not be perfect, but if you listen to FSU, it sure beats the heck out of the ACC.
More recently, the SEC and Big 12 announced that they will begin playing a January bowl game between their conference champions in 2015. Such a game will likely rival the excitement of the Rose Bowl, a matchup traditionally featuring the Pac 12 and Big 10 champions. With the probable restructuring of the BCS system in the near future, these four conferences have ensured that they will be highlighted in postseason play. Once again, the ACC is on the outside looking in.
These two developments are not the biggest reason that the ACC is lagging; the on-field play has been the main culprit. But Florida State’s public flirtation with the Big 12 and the new SEC-Big 12 megabowl underscore the irrelevance of the ACC on the national scale. In the dinner party that is major college football, the ACC is once again left pulling a stool up to the table while the other conferences sit snugly together in the booth.