Sports Illustrated's 'America, Realigned': How Does NC State Fit In?

Brett Friedlander

The college sports landscape is changing, in many cases permanantly, because of the coronavirus crisis and the financial implications it has brought about.

Already, we've seen schools eliminate sports as a means of addressing budget shortfalls and conferences such as the Sun Belt and Conference USA entering into scheduling agreements as a means of lessening travel expenses.

On Monday, Sports Illustrated senior writer Pat Forde took things a step further by proposing a hypothetical conference realignment that would completely change the current college sports landscape. The project divides the country into 10 conferences consisting of 12 teams each to create what it calls the "Forde Bowl Subdivision."

It will never happen, of course. There are too many moving parts, too many contracts in place and too many other hoops to jump through.

But with no actual sports to discuss and argue about, what's the harm of a little fantasy speculation?

So here goes:

Under Forde's plan, NC State would be part of the Mid-Atlantic Conference, not too far of a departure from the current ACC. And there would be some familiar faces in the league as well, with state rivals North Carolina, Wake Forest and Duke staying together in one happy family.

The realignment still wouldn't free the Wolfpack of having to play Clemson every year. Forde's Mid-Atlantic Conference also includes the Tigers, as well as current ACC members Virginia and Virginia.

But that's where the similarities stop.

The rest of the league would consist of the SEC's South Carolina, the only other Power 5 program in the mix, along with Group of Five schools East Carolina, Appalachian State, Charlotte and Old Dominion.

Here is how the rest of the conferences stack up:

Forde realignment

Forde proposes a full 11-game round-robin football schedule with one nonconference game each season. No FCS opponents would be allowed the the nonconference opponent would be locked in for a minimum of four seasons before there is an opt-out to schedule another team.

State's designated non-conference opponent would be former ACC foe Syracuse, which would become a part of the newly formed Yankee Conference.

Conference championship games would be eliminated.

All 10 conference championships, along with two at-large selections, would advance to an expanded College Football Playoff while a limited number of other bowl games would still be held for teams that didn't make the playoff.

Forde writes that the new alignments would also work for other sports beside football, but for schools like State, UNC and Duke whose lifeblood is still basketball, it's hard to see how replacing games against the likes of Florida State, Syracuse, Louisville and Notre Dame with dates against current schedule-fillers such as ECU, Charlotte and App State would help the bottom line.

But hey, all we're doing is talking and dreaming here.

Then again, who could ever have imagined that the Big 10 would someday have 14 teams, the Big 12 would have only 10 teams and that South Bend, Ind., and Louisville, Ky., would at least athletically, be considered part of the Atlantic Coast?

So anything is possible.

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