Brian: Jeff, if Clemson finally lives up the preseason hype and does win the ACC Atlantic division crown this season, that will mark the 4th different team to represent the Atlantic in the ACC championship in as many years (Florida State, Wake, BC and Clemson). But what would that mean for BCs side of the conference? Does that mean that there is plenty of parody and the Atlantic is strong relative to the Coastal? Or does it simply further the national perception that ACC football is mediocre without one team separating themself from the rest of the pack as a perennial national title game threat?
Jeff: As far as national perception I think having the preseason favorite win the conference is always good. It always seems that when another team comes from the preseason middle-of-the-pack to win the conference hurts national perception. So therefore, Clemson winning the ACC this year has its positives. As far as which side of the conference is stronger? I can't imagine anyone making the argument that the Coastal division is stronger with UNC and Duke dragging down the relative strength of that side in the first three years. The Atlantic is 2-1 so far in the ACC championship game, and the Atlantic division is 6 games over .500 in regularly season interdivision games.
Brian: I will agree that having the conference preseason favorite go wire-to-wire helps the conference, but I think its more than that. I also think having the same preseason favorite year over year is the factor that really helps improve the conference's national perception. Look at the other BCS conferences. Preseason you always expect Ohio State/Michigan to top the Big 10, Oklahoma/Texas in the Big XII, and USC in the Pac-10. This is the first season that Florida State isn't projected to win the ACC Atlantic which I think isn't a great trend for the ACC. The conference needs someone to emerge as a perennial conference champ and title threat from the Atlantic. I also agree that the Atlantic is much stronger relative to the Coastal in football. This most likely ends up hurting the conference's national perception as the Atlantic teams beat each other up and Virginia Tech coasts by against the Coastal division teams.
Jeff: It would be nice to play Duke every year. That's like scheduling another MAC team.
Brian: If the ACC Atlantic is that much stronger than the Coastal, is it time to consider realigning the conferences? Say along geographic lines?
Jeff: No, the Atlantic is not that much stronger than the Coastal. The Coastal's problem is Duke. Take Duke out of the equation and the sides are evenly matched or perhaps the Coastal is even the better side.
Geographic lines would leave BC with Maryland, Virginia, Va Tech, and 2 of the North Carolina schools. So basically swapping FSU and Clemson for Virginia and Va Tech. I wouldn't have a problem with such a realignment but I don't expect it to ever happen. BC stills needs to get on a plane for every away game.