Sports Illustrated's 'America, Realigned': Where Does Boston College Fall?

A.J. Black

With the outbreak of COVID-19, there has been a renewed discussion about keeping college athletic scheduling more regionalized. Department revenue continues to be slashed, and most likely will be even more when teams play to either reduced or no crowds. This has led to ideas on how to save money, one of the most thrown around is reducing travel costs. The argument being that a team could save money playing a team closer to home instead of bringing a huge staff and equipment across the country.

Today SI's Pat Forde reimagined conferences and created them with a regional emphasis. Here is how he created his new landscape in college sports:

* Ten leagues, each with 12 members, each designed to maximize proximity and reduce travel demands and costs. All current conference structures are broken and reassembled. There are no more than eight Power 5 programs in a single new conference, and no fewer than four. And there are no independents—yes, Notre Dame is in a conference.

* In football, each school will play a full round-robin schedule plus one nonconference game (no FCS opponents). The nonconference opponent will be locked in for a minimum of four seasons before there is an opt-out to schedule someone different. There will be no conference championship games.

* All 10 conference champions, plus two at-large teams chosen by a selection committee, advance to the expanded College Football Playoff. The teams are seeded by the committee. The top four receive a first-round bye, while seeds 5–8 host seeds 9–12 at their home stadiums the first weekend of December. Quarterfinals are played the next week at the home stadiums of seeds 1–4. The semifinals and championship game are conducted under the current CFP format.

And here are the conferences:

conferenceoutlook

It doesn't mention it in the picture above, but BC's out of conference game every year would be Wake Forest. There is a lot to digest here, so let's take the pros and cons of this set up for Boston College. 

PROS

Path to the College Football Playoff: More so than in the current format, Boston College could realistically make the playoffs and do it frequently. The only real heavy weight that would cause problems is Penn State, while the rest of the conference schedule consists of programs BC has beaten recently and has done so even when they struggled. Looking at this schedule there is no reason BC shouldn't go 9-3 or 10-2 almost every year. 

Travel To All Away Games: For fans and students this should make it easy to travel. Instead of having to fly for most away games like they do in the current ACC, almost every game on this schedule is drivable from the Boston area. Having an away game at Army every other year is a tradition many could get behind, and maybe just make the UMass/UConn away game at Gillette every year. 

No more random games: Emphasis on games against UConn and UMass, the service academies and Temple/Rutgers replace those out of conference games that may not spark much interest. No more Kansas, Purdue or Holy Crosses.  Service academy games are great, and this would guarantee two a year.

Throws a life preserver to UMass and UConn: Depending on how you look at this, it could be a positive or negative. Allowing these two programs in would pull them both out of irrelevance and on to the national stage, which means better games, but also a new recruiting foe for the Eagles. This is thrown in the positive column because having good regional football in the Northeast needs to happen. 

Cons

Lack of Marquee Matchups: Gone are the Notre Dame, Clemson and FSU matchups, those big games that got fans in to the stadium no matter how badly the Eagles were playing. With Forde's new conferences BC is left with Penn State as a premier program, that is it. After the Nittany Lions, there is a rivalry game with Syracuse and a bunch of other mid term programs.

Some Brutal Home Schedules: Think of the home slate the years that BC plays at Penn State. A home slate of Pitt, Temple, UMass, Navy, Buffalo and Wake Forest? Not really going to move the needle for the fan base and good luck trying selling season tickets to that. 

Loss of regional recruiting:  Recruits do look for programs that they are either acquainted with, or a team that plays in their home area. Right now BC could argue they play all over the East coast, and most of the midwest (out of conference). They lose all of that if their schedule is just wedged up north. Gone will be the Georgia, Ohio and Florida kids, and the Eagles would be forced to clean up New Jersey and Pennsylvania. 

Feels Very "Big East" One of BC's crowning achievements this century was getting out of the Big East and into the ACC. They were able to get into a premier conference before the old one basically collapsed. This new conference feels very much like taking a big step backwards for the Eagles back to the old days. But with less VT and Miami and more UConn and UMass. 

What do you think of Forde's vision? Do you like it or hate it? Leave your comment below!

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