Tuesday, October 18, 2011

ON (POTENTIALLY) GIVING UP THE YEARLY VIRGINIA TECH GAME

The sun sets over Lane Stadium during a 1999 Virginia Tech-Boston College game. (Simon Bruty/SI)
Some quick stats for you, courtesy of the College Football Data Warehouse: this Saturday's game in Blacksburg will mark the 20th meeting of BC and Virginia Tech and the ninth over the six years the two teams have both been members of the ACC. Yes, VaTech has a large advantage in the history (13 wins to six losses), but the series has also been the home of many BC great moments of the last decade.

The continued playing of Tech was designed when the original divisions of the ACC were set back during BC's exit from the Big East. When first establishing divisions, the ACC chose to go with a capsule that included all five teams from your team's group and then three schools from the opposite side of the table - but of those teams, one would be a yearly rivalry game. When scoping out those rivalries, they actually all worked out quite nicely: Florida State-Miami would be a guaranteed match every year, as would Georgia Tech-Clemson and Virginia-Maryland. The North Carolina schools were split between a public school rivalry of UNC-NC State and Wake Forest-Duke, nice and clean.

That left BC and VT - argued as a "Big East Reunion" rivalry. What needs to be taken into consideration is that BC and Tech had barely a blip of a relationship on the football field at this point. BC had won only one of the previous 10 games when this was announced - a late November game in Blacksburg in 2004 that was the team's necessary sixth win to get bowl eligible. All of the history between these two has been recent, and a little lucky given that there were a few great national games.

Here's something I've been thinking about this morning in light of this rivalry and the future of the expanded ACC that includes Syracuse and Pitt:

Last week, during a annual fall meetings for the conference, the ADs of the two Virginia schools noted that they would prefer to keep the current divisions when it comes time for the Orange and Panthers to join the league. Personally, this is a winning scenario overall for BC - if the ACC realigned to a North-South split, it would all but definitely take away yearly games on the schedule with Clemson and Florida State.

Where do Syracuse and Pitt, go, though? How do you split them up? For the longest time, I thought that it would be obvious: it is in the ACC's best interest to setup a yearly match between BC and Syracuse and reestablish an I-90 rivalry that the two had actually put together as an out-of-conference match for the next decade. Put Syracuse in the Atlantic, make things nice and clean and establish Pitt and Syracuse as football rivals for scheduling.

The more I think about it: the best solution is to put Pitt in the Atlantic and realign the Coastal-Crossover rivalry game to set up BC and Syracuse. While the Panthers have no more history with the Hokies than BC does (they also had never played Tech before Big East play in 1993), it is at least better suited in terms of geography and school profiles, while maintaining the same argument of Big East Reunion that justified BC and Virginia Tech as rivals in the first place.

Should BC push for this alignment? I know it's a positive for our football program to try and push the argument that would help our identity, schedule and place in the conference, and we're all a little pessimistic about that these days.

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