RoughRiders99

Which sports division/conference has the perfect alignment?

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Which division or conference in sports in general do you think has the most perfect alignment of teams based on geography that makes sense, historical rivals, prestige, mutual respect, etc? Like if there’s ever an expansion or relocation or whatever, you better not touch that division or there will be hell to pay? 

 

I nominate the NFC North with the Vikings, Bears, Packers, and the Lions. They’re in a great location in the country and close to each other, and the four haven’t broken up since forever (the Buccaneers doesn’t count), and all of their games against each other has always been great with hate but respect. 

 

What other division or conference do you think could fit that mold?

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Just to further emphasise your point:

 

nfl-divisions-geographical.0.png

 

NFC South isn't bad either.  Swap conferences between Carolina and Jacksonville and it's even better.

 

EDIT: this map obiously doesn't have the LA teams, and it'll be different next year with OAK in LV.  Replace the long lines going to STL with shorter ones going to LA, and that division doesn't look nearly as bad as the map would indicate.

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Looking at this, it would seem that the AL Central wins.  The Florida teams and Atlanta screw up the Easts, and with Seattle, Colorado, and the Texas teams, MLB seems to have a lot of 'islands' that force divisions to span time zones and require longer-than-average flights.

 

Nothing short of teams swapping leagues could fix MLB's issue, and I doubt that's happening.

 

Current-MLB-Teams.jpg

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When the NFL realigned in 2002, the biggest moves were Indianapolis to the AFC South and Seattle to the NFC West.

 

Seattle's move to the NFC coincided with their rise as a general power team, so it's been pretty perfect for them.

 

The Colts won a championship and went to two Super Bowls in the AFC South, but they've always "felt" like a team in the wrong division. O get why they were moved from the AFC East, but why did they go South and not Baltimore? Was it their choice, knowing that division included a recent expansion team that was unlikely to be good for a while?

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In general the NFL has a good overall alignment. It’s divisions are pretty balanced both geographically and with rivalries. It’s also nice that the schedule post-realignment is so cyclical. 

 

I’d agree the NFC North is the perfect division both geographically and with rivalries. The AFC North is also pretty good with the tale of three Browns teams and the Steelers. 

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I actually took a look at the divisions while screwing around in Google My Maps a while back, and this is what the divisions of the Big 4 look like for the 2020 or 2019-20 seasons:

 

NBA 2019-20:

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NHL 2019-20 (Atlantic is red, Metropolitan is orange):
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MLB 2020 (AL is shades of red, NL is shades of blue):

BLjOzTu.png

 

NFL 2020:

hw9jHrb.png

 

The NBA is the ideal OCD division separation, and the MLB is a nice duel league tri-regional division separation.

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The NBA definitely has the "cleanest" divisional alignment. But divisions in the NBA and NHL are just novelties. So it's really only worth discussing MLB and the NFL.

 

It's hard to argue against the NFC North as the best aligned division overall. Those teams have been grouped together since the original NFL Central Division in 1967, and it's contiguous among state lines.

 

But when you consider the leagues overall, MLB beats the NFL. All the divisions make perfect sense within their leagues. The same can't be said for the NFL. 

 

The AFC East is a perfect example. Miami was placed there to preserve the Dolphins-Bills "rivalry," which was really just a Marino-Kelly rivalry. It led to a butterfly effect where:

 

-The two Florida teams are in separate divisions.

 

-Indianapolis is in the South. And plays against teams from Texas, Tennessee, and Florida rather than Ohio and Western Pennsylvania.

 

-Baltimore plays with Ohio teams rather than teams from New York and New England.

 

-The Patriots are basically guaranteed a division title every year.

 

While some may argue the Steelers-Ravens rivalry justifies the current alignment. We were depeived of Steelers-Colts and Ravens-Patriots matchups that desfinitely would have made the past 20 years of the AFC a lot more interesting.

 

The NFC alignments are much more intuitive by comparison. Even with Dallas in the East. No one would have aligned the AFC the way it was if geography was the only consideration.

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2 hours ago, NicDB said:

The AFC East is a perfect example. Miami was placed there to preserve the Dolphins-Bills "rivalry," which was really just a Marino-Kelly rivalry.

 

Think it was just as much about keeping the classic AFL East teams together, which those four were but the Colts were not. See also: AFL West, Seahawks

 

Baltimore's fine where it is because it's Cleveland's evil twin and as such is together with Pittsburgh and Cleveland. 

 

2 hours ago, NicDB said:

But divisions in the NBA and NHL are just novelties.

Hast thou forgotten the NHL's wackadoodle divisional/wild-card playoff bracket?

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Was curious about Power 5 college football divisions, so I made this one:

zozrOQF.png

(ACC: teals, Big 12: red, Big Ten: gray/black, Pac-12: blues, SEC: yellow/orange)

 

So basically, Power 5 has nice in-conference division separation for every conference except the ACC, but there's a whole lot of conference overlap.  The best groupings and division name accuracy goes to the Big Ten, in my opinion.

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19 hours ago, DG_Now said:

When the NFL realigned in 2002, the biggest moves were Indianapolis to the AFC South and Seattle to the NFC West.

 

Seattle's move to the NFC coincided with their rise as a general power team, so it's been pretty perfect for them.

 

The Colts won a championship and went to two Super Bowls in the AFC South, but they've always "felt" like a team in the wrong division. O get why they were moved from the AFC East, but why did they go South and not Baltimore? Was it their choice, knowing that division included a recent expansion team that was unlikely to be good for a while?

I’m guessing it was done to have a ready made rivalry with Cleveland and mantain the one the old Browns had with the Steelers. And having a division with no traditional team would have been less than ideal. 4 teams that  didn’t exist as currently named and locationed before 1996 playing each other 6 times might have struggled with the  casual football fan

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The AFC North is perfect in my book, the cities are all reasonably close, all are blue collar towns, all of the teams play outside, three of the teams have a connection to Paul Brown and the fourth team is the main rival for the Paul Brown franchises.

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What does “blue collar towns” mean? I’d be willing to bet that the majority of people in the stadiums are “white collar”, and each of those cities - like most bigger cities - have a huge white collar population, just like most also have a large blue collar population. 

 

I laugh ugh when I hear people on the radio that are probably accountants talking about how their city is a “blue collar” town. You could make that case about anywhere. 

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The first time I remember an entire metropolitan area feeling exempt from "we're a blue-collar town" gasconading was Vancouver during the Canucks' peak. Nothing about that whole production could ever be mistaken for remotely proletarian, especially as it ended with a giant temper tantrum.

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Nothing says blue-collar like being a spoiled trust fund kid burning your expensive af city down because your team lost a hockey game.

 

As for what alignment looks "perfect", I'm going with the NFC West. Seattle never really felt like a rival the way the Raiders and the Broncos did. 

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Well, the Downtown Eastside is pretty blue collar and tragic. Of course, most Canucks fans would love to ignore the plights of that neighborhood's residents.

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10 hours ago, packerfan21396 said:

So basically, Power 5 has nice in-conference division separation for every conference except the ACC, but there's a whole lot of conference overlap.  The best groupings and division name accuracy goes to the Big Ten, in my opinion.

 

 

The BIg XII used to be great when it came to its geographic divisions with the four Texas and two Oklahoma schools in the South and Nebraska, Colorado, Iowa State, Mizzou, and the Kansas schools in the North. The only issue being that the South very clearly had a higher ceiling than the North. Now of course they have no divisions and West Virginia is off on an island by itself.

 

The SEC used to be perfect as well, but Mizzou being in the East now is really wonky. I think you could probably shove Alabama and Auburn to the East and put Mizzou and Vanderbilt in the West and be fine. It wouldn't be geographically perfect, but it would be closer than it is now without disrupting anything too important.

 

I can't get really behind the idea of a city being blue collar sports town in modern times at all. Are there any that have never had that sort of branding or storyline placed on them other than Vancouver? Los Angeles seems like the sort of place where nobody on the face of the planet would have referred to them as blue collar.

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27 minutes ago, Red Wolf said:

 

The BIg XII used to be great when it came to its geographic divisions with the four Texas and two Oklahoma schools in the South and Nebraska, Colorado, Iowa State, Mizzou, and the Kansas schools in the North. The only issue being that the South very clearly had a higher ceiling than the North. Now of course they have no divisions and West Virginia is off on an island by itself.

 

Would've stuck together if being a dominant program was good enough for Texas instead of being megalomaniacal to the point of having their own cable network. After 15 years of kowtowing to Austin, Nebraska, Mizzou, Colorado and Texas A&M had enough. In hindsight, I wish they stayed but Texas made that impossible. Goddammit, give me my annual asskicking of those smug KU bastards in football again! I guess I'll have to settle with Bill Self getting :censored:canned.

Edited by Red Comet

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7 hours ago, ltp74 said:

The AFC North is perfect in my book, the cities are all reasonably close, all are blue collar towns, all of the teams play outside, three of the teams have a connection to Paul Brown and the fourth team is the main rival for the Paul Brown franchises.

A stipulation of the 1999 Browns was that they had to be in a division with Cincinnati and Pittsburgh, so it could be argued that the Ravens (old Browns) made more sense in that division than the Colts.

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On 9/23/2019 at 2:00 AM, the admiral said:

 

Think it was just as much about keeping the classic AFL East teams together, which those four were but the Colts were not. See also: AFL West, Seahawks

 

Baltimore's fine where it is because it's Cleveland's evil twin and as such is together with Pittsburgh and Cleveland.


Even then, the original AFL East was the Bills, Jets, Patriots and... Oilers.  It's not like the AFL West where the OG's (Broncos, Chargers, Chiefs, Raiders) have been aligned together since 1960.  It's also not as if the Dolphins have much of an AFL heritage worth celebrating... a total of 8 wins over 24 games, and all of their "glamour" moments coming right after the merger.

(SN: The AFC West is actually several years older than the NFC Central/North?!  Who knew?)

Ravens-Steelers is the only thing that legitimizes the current alignment, IMO.  I don't include Ravens-Browns because I think it's cruel and unusual punishment to constantly subject Cleveland to the shadow of their original franchise that continues to outclass the "new" Browns in every way.
 

On 9/23/2019 at 2:00 AM, the admiral said:

Hast thou forgotten the NHL's wackadoodle divisional/wild-card playoff bracket?


I did have to look up what you're talking about.  I guess I haven't actually watched that much hockey lately.

 

On 9/23/2019 at 2:36 PM, BringBackTheVet said:

What does “blue collar towns” mean? I’d be willing to bet that the majority of people in the stadiums are “white collar”, and each of those cities - like most bigger cities - have a huge white collar population, just like most also have a large blue collar population. 

 

I laugh ugh when I hear people on the radio that are probably accountants talking about how their city is a “blue collar” town. You could make that case about anywhere. 


A place in on the Great Lakes, Ohio Valley, or the Eastern Seaboard (New Jersey on through Maryland) with a history and legacy of heavy industry, neighborhood taverns, and union politics?  Basically, if you could imagine a Bruce Springsteen video taking place there, it's blue collar.

I'll grant you, it's an antiquated term that refers to a city's past more than its present.  Even the mayor of Milwaukee quipped 15 years ago that "Laverne and Shirley don't live here anymore". (He was right to assume no one watched the LA episodes.) Anyone claiming a team's fanbase is "blue collar" these days is lazy at best, and a moron at worst.  But I don't think it's incorrect to say the AFC North cities share a socioeconomic history with each other that wouldn't be the case with Indianapolis (regardless of my desire to have the Colts replace the Ravens).
 

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On 9/22/2019 at 12:28 PM, DG_Now said:

When the NFL realigned in 2002, the biggest moves were Indianapolis to the AFC South and Seattle to the NFC West.

 

Seattle's move to the NFC coincided with their rise as a general power team, so it's been pretty perfect for them.

 

The Colts won a championship and went to two Super Bowls in the AFC South, but they've always "felt" like a team in the wrong division. O get why they were moved from the AFC East, but why did they go South and not Baltimore? Was it their choice, knowing that division included a recent expansion team that was unlikely to be good for a while?

 

The entire AFC South feels like a team in the wrong division. That might be the worst division in sports. The Colts fans I talked to in Indianapolis last year said they don't feel like they have a division rival because they automatically won the division for like 10 years there, but they like being in the division because the other 3 teams are sh***y more often than not. I'd take that deal too. 

 

Perfect geographical alignment puts Baltimore in the East, Miami in the South, Indianapolis in the North, but Baltimore works so well with being the evil descendant of the Browns and they seem to have no trouble beating the Steelers regardless of their record so I'm okay with it. 

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