5:14 PM PST, January 25, 2012
Conference realignment continues to affect schools of local intrigue, most recently this week's announcement that Navy will become a football-only member of the Big East starting in 2015.
More on Navy's future storied rivalries with Houston and Boise State, and how the Midshipmen's service academy comrades have fared in conferences, in a moment.
First, a glance forward to next week's ACC winter meetings in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
In between poolside margaritas — on the rocks, with salt, barkeep! — league and school officials could well finalize football divisions for the 14-team alignment created by the addition of Syracuse and Pittsburgh.
When the Orange and Panthers extricate themselves from the Big East remains uncertain — 2013 or '14 — but ACC commissioner John Swofford and others have indicated that the newcomers will most likely be plugged into the current divisions.
So Syracuse to the Atlantic and Pitt to the Coastal, or vice-versa.
If I'm a fan of Virginia or Virginia Tech, both Coastal members, I'd prefer the Panthers in the division because a road trip to Pittsburgh every other year is easier than the hike to Syracuse. Plus, Heinz Field parking is far better for tailgating than the Carrier Dome. That said, the dome, though an eyesore, protects spectators from the elements.
Placing Syracuse in the Atlantic also would give the Orange a yearly divisional game against Boston College. Those programs clashed annually, with two exceptions, from 1961-2004.
So if the ACC opts for Syracuse to the Coastal, don't be surprised if Virginia Tech's annual Atlantic crossover opponent is changed from Boston College to Pitt. That shift would free the Eagles to become crossovers with the Orange.
But such machinations seem unnecessary. Assign Pitt to the Coastal and Syracuse to the Atlantic and move on to matters such as basketball, where the conference schedule is expanding from 16 to 18 games.
There the issue will be permanent partners, those rivals a team plays twice annually. Presently, each of the 12 schools has two partners — for Virginia they are Maryland and Virginia Tech; for Tech they are Virginia and Boston College.
One scheduling model that works for 14 teams increases the number of partners to three. Under that plan, Duke, North Carolina, North Carolina State and Wake Forest could all play one another twice every regular season, as they did until the ACC's 2004-05 expansion.
But Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski prefers trimming partners to only one, and his logic is compelling. Such a model would send Syracuse and Pitt to more ACC venues more often, introducing them to more fans.
Navy's transition to the Big East will be far less complex given the football-only component. Both parties understand other Midshipmen teams such as basketball are far better suited for their present home in the Patriot League.
Unlike Army and Air Force, its annual rivals for the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy, Navy football has never competed in a conference. The Mids can only hope their experience is more like the Falcons' than the Cadets'.
Army played in Conference USA from 1998-2004, losing 41 of 50 league games. Granted, the Cadets back then would have struggled in most any conference, but the program appears better suited as an independent.
Conversely, Air Force has belonged to the Western Athletic or Mountain West since 1980, and the Falcons have appeared in 18 bowls in the past 30 seasons. They have shared three conference championships, the most recent in 1998.
The Big East also pursued Air Force, but academy officials opted for a more geographically sane home.
Navy is joining a Big East that will offer more television exposure and revenue but will scatter from Rutgers to South Florida to Houston to Boise State to San Diego State.
Good thing the Navy has access to jets.
David Teel can be reached at 757-247-4636 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more from Teel, read his blog at dailypress.com/sports/teeltime and follow him at twitter.com/DavidTeelatDP
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