The Complete History of ACC Realignment

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Athlon Sports recaps over 60 years of ACC realignment.

The Entire and Complete History of ACC Realignment

Conference realignment reached a fever pitch a few years ago and it caused great headaches for fans and coaches across the nation.

 

The dollars and “sense” of conference realignment blazed a path through college football for a few years following the turn of the century, however, teams shifting leagues for greener pastures isn’t a new phenomenon.

 

Did you know that South Carolina was a founding member of the ACC or that the league was created as an offshoot of the Southern Conference? The ACC was created in 1953 and has gone through more changes in the last 10 years than any of the other major leagues. Since 2004, the ACC has added six new football programs to its ranks, including 2014 with the addition of Louisville and the subtraction of Maryland. And that doesn't include the partnership with Notre Dame, whose annual schedule includes five ACC opponents starting this season. 

 

The point is conference realignment has been happening for over 100 years of college football, and, while the process escalated to dizzying speeds recently, it’s not even close to ending. Here is a complete look at the history of the Atlantic Coast Conference and how realignment has shaped the league over time.

 

The Commissioners:

 

James Weaver, 1954-70

Robert James 1971-87

Eugene Corrigan, 1987-97

John Swofford, 1997-present

 

The Timeline:

 

1953: After losing a multitude of members to the SEC in 1932, the once massive (23-member) Southern Conference loses eight key members to the formation of the Atlantic Coast Conference. The SoCon had a league-wide ban on postseason play and this is why many believe the ACC got started to begin with. Clemson, Duke, Maryland, North Carolina, NC State, South Carolina and, a few months later, Virginia became the charter members.

 

1971: South Carolina decides to leave for independence, but would later join the SEC in 1991.

 

1978: After only containing seven teams for most of the '70s, Georgia Tech leaves the Metro Conference for the greener pastures of the ACC.

 

1991: Also from the Metro Conference, Florida State’s decision to join the ACC might have been the most important maneuver in ACC history. The Noles went on to dominate the league for the first decade and it played in the first three BCS National Championship Games (1998-2000). The league’s two national titles during the BCS Era (1999, 2013) and all four appearances in the game were produced by the Seminoles.

 

2004: Miami and Virginia Tech both officially join in the summer of 2004. Adding the two football powers gives the ACC two more viable national championship football programs to package with FSU.

 

2005: Boston College comes aboard, giving the ACC 12 teams and the opportunity to split the conference into two divisions and host a title game.

 

2011: In an effort to get out in front of the curve, John Swofford continues to stabilize his league by adding two more Big East powers, Syracuse and Pittsburgh, to the group. The ACC technically expanded to 14 before any other major power conference.

 

2012: Founding member Maryland becomes the first such ACC program to jump ship in the modern rounds of realignment. The Terrapins desired more league stability and a much bigger payday and got both with the decision to move to the Big Ten. To counter the loss of Maryland, Swofford moves quickly to find a replacement and settles on Louisville. To top it off, the ACC also adds the highly coveted Notre Dame brand to the conference in all sports except football.

 

2013: In a shrewd legal move by the conference, the ACC signs a "Grant of Rights" deal locking in ownership of media rights for all member institutions. This is a simple but effective way to keep teams from leaving the ACC in the short term. From now until the end of the GOR contract (2027), if a school leaves the league, the ACC will retain the media rights, effectively rendering the move to another league fairly pointless. Additionally, Syracuse and Pittsburgh make their debuts in the Atlantic Coast Conference in all sports while Notre Dame begins ACC play in every sport except football.

 

2014: The Maryland Terrapins officially begin play in the B1G while Louisville officially begins play in the ACC. Notre Dame will begin playing five games a year against ACC foes on the gridiron.

 

ACC’s BCS Bowl Record: 5-13

ACC’s BCS National Championships: 2-2

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