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DonRocks

The Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC, 1953-) - 15-Team Conference with 2 Divisions

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The ACC has changed so much from when I was a child (and you could simply "go down Tobacco Road") that I thought I'd write this little primer, mainly for myself to remember things, but also for others.

In late 2012, Louisville agreed to replace Maryland, bringing the conference up to 15 teams as of Jul 1, 2014. It's because of my childhood love of Maryland sports that I'll always get a warm, fuzzy feeling when I hear "ACC" mentioned, even though it's nothing like the ACC of my childhood. That said, all schools that were in the Conference 40 years ago remain *except* for Maryland, so the Conference has grown more than it has changed. (South Carolina, the other "former" ACC member, was an original Conference member, but left in 1971.)

Here then, are the two Divisions (Divisional play began in 2005), with the teams in each Division alongside the date they joined the Conference. It seems like, for convenience of travel - think of all the minor sports that need to travel - they'd put geographically proximal schools in the same Division, but that's not the way it is:

Atlantic Division
1953 Clemson
         North Carolina State
         Wake Forest University
1991 Florida State University
2005 Boston College
2013 Syracuse University
         University of Notre Dame
2014 University of Louisville

Coastal Division
1953 Duke University
         University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
         University of Virginia
1979 Georgia Institute of Technology
2004 University of Miami
         Virginia Tech
2013 University of Pittsburgh

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Ahhhh....the ACC.   I really enjoy sports, and fandom....but it has become something very twisted by big business.  College sports gives us a picture of how twisted it has become. (of course pro sports shows how business twisted it has become even more so).

When I moved to this area I became a fan of the ACC.  hmmm.  South Carolina left the ACC in '71, so I only got the tail end of its involvment, but it was a member for 18 years...a long time before departing....and now a way way longer time since having departed.  The competitive strength of the ACC in big time college sports (basketball and football) was always basketball with football being secondary as a major competitor for "the best of the best".   But in basketball it was often supreme and if not supreme a close second or third; year after year, decade after decade.   When the Big East became a powerful basketball conference, with its Southern anchor being Georgetown, and before you could watch any game anywhere, DC was about the best place in the nation to watch college basketball on TV or in person;  Georgetown or U Md.  ACC or Big East or both.  Through the end of the 70's into the 80's it was an 8 team league; Geographically stretching from Georgia to Md and anchored in North Carolina. 

Boy its different now.  Stretching from Massachusetts to Florida and Westward to Kentucky and Western Pa.  Very different.  Additionally the ACC, on a basketball basis is sort of the old ACC and cherry picking from the Big East.  Its damn different.

Meanwhile U. Md is gone.  Tom McMillen, who was/is on the U of Md board dealing with this change voted against that change.  Lefty Driesell was against the change.  I was against the change.  But it occurred.  Money ruled.  Tradition was trumped.  I hate it.  Meanwhile if one is a great basketball player (and even not that great) they leave after one year.  So who cares.  The ACC is still second rate in football.  Nothing has really changed there. 

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12 minutes ago, DaveO said:

Meanwhile if one is a great basketball player (and even not that great) they leave after one year.  So who cares. 

Dave, what do you mean by this? Are you talking about individual players who sign with ACC schools, then transfer? Or are you talking about the more-general, Kentucky-exemplified issue of "one and done?" (I still haven't finished my first cup of coffee - sorry.)

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6 minutes ago, DonRocks said:

Dave, what do you mean by this? Are you talking about individual players who sign with ACC schools, then transfer? Or are you talking about the more-general, Kentucky-exemplified issue of "one and done?" (I still haven't finished my first cup of coffee - sorry.)

Way to many players leave after one year IMHO.  I have to emphasize the in my humble opinion part and it reflects speaking as a fan.  A one and done player has little connection to the University and the university record.  Much less than a 4 year player  (or 3 year player).  If reflects on any player at any school and the U Kentucky/Duke U ability to get lots of one and done superstars wherein they reload every year.  U Md got a high school stud last year; he was pretty good.  He got drafted in the 2nd round of the NBA.  He is gone now.  Basically he leaves no impression.  Likewise with the entire crews at Kentucky or Duke. 

Ironically one of Duke's one and done players, Kyrie Irving is currently playing for Coach K on the US Olympic team.  In Irving's case its not only that he was only at Duke for one season; its that he was injured early on in the season.  He might have played 10-12 games at Duke.  Is he a Dukie?  

Its the death of tradition.  I hate it .  Its been trumped.  (anything that has been trumped is bad by current definition.)

 

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8 minutes ago, DaveO said:

Ironically one of Duke's one and done players, Kyrie Irving is currently playing for Coach K on the US Olympic team.  In Irving's case its not only that he was only at Duke for one season; its that he was injured early on in the season.  He might have played 10-12 games at Duke.  Is he a Dukie?  

I didn't even know he went to Duke.

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Don:  Your list forgets that Notre Dame is a full time member of the ACC in all sports but football.  Notre Dame does include I believe 5 ACC teams on its football schedule.   So for most sports its a 16 team league.   Full time member or 75% member (football arbitrarily given 25% share).  (maybe that should be 50% member with football given 50% share).

U Md is now a Big 10 member, meaning it plays teams as far away as Iowa and Nebraska.  So much for regional proximity. Rutgers joined the Big 10  (not really 10 is it?) and so for a regionalness basis one has Penn State, Rutgers and U Maryland as sort of regional rivals.  I don't buy it.  Frankly if one ever went to a Duke/U MD basketball game at College Park...now that was a rivalry (at least as Terrapins saw it).  (maybe one should have  called it a College Park hatred for Dukies)  Duke basketball and fans on the other hand could at times ignore U Md.  The North Carolina rivalries are intense enough and are there every year in every sport.

From a lacrosse perspective, I found this change provocative.  ACC lacrosse has been powerful and deeply competitive.  U VA, Duke, U North Carolina and of course U Md were all strong competitors for the top for the last couple of decades.   Holy crow...adding Syracuse made it a crazy center of competitive college Lacrosse.   Then Md leaves.   Goes to the Big 10.  Meanwhile my old alma mater Johns Hopkins was faced with an environment wherein it had to join a league after decades of being independent.  It joined the Big 10 as an "affiliate member" or some kind of name, just for lacrosse.  Strikes me as funny.  Doing that both got them into a league and kept the longest most important rivalry...that with U Md. 

But in making those changes, does that enable U Md and Hopkins to eliminate the incredibly competitive ACC lacrosse???  I think it does...though that was not the reason for the changes, merely an aftereffect. 

Ah well, being an old timer, still to this day among my favorite college sports memories are watching Lefty stomp around the court in frustration, arms twiriling, coat askew. He wasn't the best coach, probably wasn't as good on game day as others, was just as competitive as others, could certainly outrecruit most coaches....and he was the most dramatic and most entertaining.  

"Ah ken coach!!!" was Leftie's retort when folks questioned his coaching acumen!!!!

 

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Don:  I found your post about the ACC intriguing.  My awareness of the league goes back to the same time period when you became cognizant of it.  In the 70's it was a powerful brand.  Specifically college sports and more specifically regional.  From its origin as a league until it started to spread to Florida (I would say) it was very specifically a mid Atlantic league stretching from Maryland on the North to South Carolina and then Georgia on the South, and centered in North Carolina.  Mid Atlantic and mid South.  A very specific regional character.

Not any more.  College sports has changed a lot.  Their are big dominant leagues that control the money and they are growing in size and have obscured their regional focus.  The Big 12, traditionally a Southern/mid central league focusing on teams from Texas/Oklahoma/and Kansas now includes U of West Virginia.  And the Big 10 (now with 14 members) now has U Maryland and Rutgers...Atlantic coastal states in the same league as a team from Nebraska...let alone mostly Northern Mid Central states.   These big college leagues have changed.  

As referenced above the ACC includes Notre Dame.  For everything BUT football.  Bizarre.  Isn't it?   I have to imagine the intense rivalries are not as intense as they once were.

I was curious as to why South Carolina left in 1971.   A little research reveals an interesting story.   Frank McGuire was the basketball coach at South Carolina at the time.  He was famous in the world of basketball.  A native New Yorker he had played college ball at St Johns and later coached there.  In the early 50's (around the time the ACC was started) he went to coach at U of North Carolina.  His "shtick" was to bring in players from NY City and the NY region.  In '57 he led U North Carolina to a national championship with a team featuring a player from NY and famous for beating a Kansas team with Wilt Chamberlain.

He had to leave UNC at the beginning of the 60's because of a recruiting scandal, and in leaving recommended one of his staffers as the next head coach--Dean Smith.  (great suggestion).   He went to coach at South Carolina and kept up his recruiting pattern of bringing in players from the New York region.  In the mid 60's he brought in one guy from NJ whose reputation rivaled that of Lew Alcindor  (Kareem Abdul Jabbar) at the time  .  That recruit got injured.  Later he brought in at least a trio of New Yorkers and became the best team in the ACC around 70-71.  Rival league coaches, especially in North Carolina were pissed, and especially pissed because he had this recruiting advantage they didn't have.  They wanted to put a lid on these out of state recruits.  McGuire got pissed, and supposedly so was Clemson at the rule of the North Carolina Tobacco Road coaches.  McGuire got South Carolina to leave the league but supposedly per the stories Clemson backed out of that move at the last minute. 

Big rivalries.  Intensity.  Jealousy.   Those are always great stories.  Nowadays teams leave existing leagues and join new leagues.  These days its always about the money.   The times have changed.  

 

 

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