Seems like the goofy 4 games per division requirement is made to give ND more appealing options for joining the conference. They can join in some unconventional temporary two-year membership that would allow the ACC to have its title game and only require them to play 4 divisional games (or maybe one additional game vs. Va Tech which is pretty appealing) and keep nearly all of their most desirable games in place for several years going forward. If things work out and ND and the ACC are willing to move forward, the 8 game schedule still allows them four ooc openings to keep critical games for their fans, and ND can probably hand pick who they want on their cross-divisional schedules. Something would also be worked out for their home games on NBC. With this arrangement both parties could be very big winners, with the only hang-up being fairness is ND wins its division while only playing 4 or 5 conference games.
On paper BC seems like the least problematic #2 choice, but this alignment doesn't really seem designed for them as the #2 option. The slot seems better suited to someone like Pitt as the dancing partner for Va Tech rather than BC.....or, dare I say it......
Commence Crazy Talk: West Va.?
1. Market: Certainly not an asset. The tv market angle will probably kill them, but hey, if you can argue for UConn because they bring in a whole state (granted, the additional viewership in NY makes a big difference) then why not West Va? Apart from some fanatical Marshall fans, West Va. stepping up into a new super-conference would draw every football fan with a television in a state with a population of 1,801,873 (2002 census numbers). Granted that isn't going to excite ABC or ESPN all that much, but its not awful by any means.
2. Geography: This is probably the least significant factor at this point, but they'd be a perfect fit, the best available. If the ACC gets worn out and wants to build the conference to emphasize const-saving and long-haul integrity, this could become more important.
3. Football: In the biggest money maker sport, they are definitely competitive (despite this year's record) and would probably receive a bump up in recruiting moving to the ACC. One devil of a tough road game for anyone. At worst they will not be a negative in this department, and they have proven they can be bowl worthy fairly regularly if not better.
4. Fan Support/Attendance: Of the remaining optionsin the BE they have the best fan support (if the emphasis is on football). They'd travel extremely well, just like Va Tech, and the gate at unappealing games like UNC and Duke would definitely step up. Good fans also make for good television.
5. Existing rivalries: Maryland, Va Tech, and Miami are rivals.
6. PR: They'd love to join and would accept as quickly as Va Tech did, making the ACC look like good guys again.
7. Recruiting: There is talent in these areas, and a stop in West Va would help mega-programs like FSU and Miami (as well as emerging programs like NC State) to steal an extra couple of standouts in the West Va area.
7. Other positive factors: Proposed alignment makes them a perfect fit as the cross-divisional rival to Va Tech. Bowden may have some slight pullin this decision, and if Notre Dame is not an option, he'd probably prefer someone like West Va, he may have warm fuzzies since he coached there.
8. Other negatives: The ACC elite would turn their nose up at West Va academics, but its not like they're Marshall. West Va basketball would further water down ACC hoops, but they could possibly improve like Va Tech probably will. The games already scheduled with Maryland and Va Tech might be a double-eged sword, since those games guarantee a good draw for both ACC schools already. They might prefer to keep them as profitable non-conference games.
I would not be surprised at all if the ACC lands ND with some sort of temporary arrangement (that will fill apart when ND is not willing to move further toward full football participation), and I still think BC ought to be the #2 choice as they seem like they least negatives on paper, but purely from a football-first, building a conference that makes sense perspective, West Va seems like the best choice. Miami brings MAJOR football credibility (so does Tech) as well as intensity from schools hoping to upset them, and the addition of West Va with Va Tech would bring fan support along SEC lines, with the intensity of future rivalries and fan support only growing with time. If the ACC wants to transform itself in football and to survive long term while minimizing costs, this might be the way to go. And its foolish to turn their nose up at West Va. Regional differences only make rivalries better.