|Fort Clinch - Fernandina Beach, Amelia Island, FL|
If this sounds like DCI in 2010 to you, you're my kind of people.
Thirteen years ago, an an "ad-hoc committee" consisting of seven - yes, seven - corps put together a series of "suggestions" that sought to set these corps apart as the premier competitors in the activity, going so far as to set forth an autocentric vision for the future of the activity that included a showcase series grafted onto the tour itself. That series, the Tour of Champions, existed for a number of years, eventually widening its scope to "...and friends" before dissolving altogether.
While others have since cracked the top seven - or perhaps more accurately, some of The Undersigned have dropped - it was undeniable at the time that those seven corps, Blue Devils, Bluecoats, the Cadets, Carolina Crown, the Cavaliers, Phantom Regiment, and Santa Clara Vanguard, were the top of the order and top of mind for any "elite" status.
In the ACC, it's far less certain.
Three schools seem the obvious choices, from both a brand and competitive standpoint. Acknowledging first that football leads any realignment conversation, Florida State and Clemson combine for 11 of the last 12 ACC football championships and three championships from five championship game appearances since 2013. And Miami? The U is one of the biggest brands in college football, and their 2001 championship represents the only other title won by a current ACC school this century. Each of these schools is among the common sense callups for the SEC (or Big Ten, because what even is geography) should the opportunity arise.
The path for the other four schools is a bit less clear. Virginia Tech is likely the most football-mad among the bunch, and could be attractive to one of the big two leagues, likely the SEC. UNC and UVA fit the Big Ten's old money, academic prestige profile, and have been mentioned as potential targets but for the grant of rights. Each of these schools is a flagship or land grant university in the footprint of the former confederacy, making inclusion of one or both of these states veritable infinity stones if the SEC, currently the only major conference west of the Rockies that will maintain a geographically contiguous footprint, has completionist aims. Still, no school, or even pair of schools, moves the needle on its own; what's just as likely is that neither of them could reasonably run such an idea up the flagpole without their statemates catching wise, so each is a matched set.
And who would be left behind? To the basketball- and rivalry-minded, the inclusion of UNC without Duke seems an anathema. Louisville, whose name found its way into later reports, is both geographically (again, as though that matters) and competitively attractive. Georgia Tech carries the name brand, academic prestige, and major metro area (if that still matters), if not success on the field.
The ACC left Amelia Island putting forth a brave face of a united conference, but if there's any crack in the armor to be found, things will get quite interesting.