Cackalacky Championships

There's no place like home.

About a week ago, the Atlantic Coast Conference released the future sites of many of their championships between now and 2030. The latest round of realignment has the conference stretching from sea to shining sea, with the addition of Stanford, Cal, and SMU. With an expanded conference, one may have thought that they'd expand the championship footprint as well, but if anything, they've contracted, with every announced championship through 2030 being in the state of North Carolina. Greensboro, Charlotte, and Raleigh take the lion's share, with the Triangle's Durham and Cary picking off a few, and this year's Women's Golf in Wilmington being the sole outlier.

Even as previous rounds of realignment has stretched the conference north and south to Chestnut Hill and Coral Gables, and west to Louisville and South Bend, the ACC's geographic center has remained pretty close to the league's Greensboro birthplace. Even so, those changes brought about championships up and down the coast - football in Jacksonville, Tampa, and Orlando, and basketball in DC, Tampa, Atlanta, and Brooklyn. The impending expansion will move the center 400 or so miles west along the I-40 corridor, into Middle Tennessee. This puts more metros into play, along with the rest of the Atlantic coast, but the league seems to have closed ranks.

While it's possible this is the future the ACC has chosen for its championships, there's another possibility that's far more damning. As the Big Ten and SEC consolidate power into a Big Two on the college sports landscape, it's possible the ACC just isn't as attractive a product for potentially bidding cities. The conference is currently held together by the chicken wire that is the Grant of Rights, and even then, Florida State has every lawyer from Pensacola to Key West trying to find a way out. Nearly every corner of the conference shares geographic overlap with the SEC and Big Ten, so those cities may have focused their efforts on luring action from those leagues. Even the men's basketball tournament - arguably the highest profile in the nation - might not be considered worth a bid if there's doubt the conference will even exist by the time your turn is up. Still, whether the Carolina homecoming is a return to their roots or a purgatory born of lack of options, the Old North State is glad to have them.