Saturday, January 31, 2015

Should The ACC's Football Divisions "Split" Up?

With the news that Wake Forest and North Carolina have agreed to a non-conference football series, there has been a lot of discussion about the scheduling of the ACC schedule.  The main issue is that you could play at one school just once over a 12-year period, which is what UNC and Wake were facing with the new 14-team format and the side deal with Notre Dame.

Should the ACC do something different with their division format?  Should they dump divisions altogether?  Should they go to a 9-game season?  Let's look.


I'm going to shoot this down.  I don't like this and I don't think a lot of the schools like this.  Maybe some do, but the league as a whole isn't interested in it.  Florida State, Clemson, Georgia Tech and Louisville already have a built in rivalry game with an SEC opponent.  Also, each school plays Notre Dame once in a three year stretch.  So if you are Florida State, you could have a 10-game schedule already lined up.  That leaves little room to schedule another game against a quality opponent and a game against a lower level FBS school or a FCS school.  I just don't think this will happen without a big fight.


Of course, there could be fights in all of these proposals.  Right now, each school plays the other schools in their division once, one team in the other division every year as their natural rival and one of the other six schools in the other division on a rotating basis.

One of the problems some schools have had is the natural rival item.  If there wasn't the natural rival, then the rotation would be a bit quicker.

No one disputes some of the rivalries.  Florida State-Miami, UNC-NC State, Duke-Wake Forest and Clemson-Georgia Tech are ones that should be kept.  But should Boston College-Virginia Tech be kept?  Does anyone care about Louisville-Virginia being played every year?

Maybe get rid of some of these yearly "rivalries".  When the Big Ten split into their current East-West division format, Indiana and Purdue will be the lone interdivisional rivalry.  Maybe keep those four ACC rivalries and then free the other six schools to rotate a bit more.  Now, it won't help with them seeing Miami, Florida State or Clemson more often, but it helps them a bit more.


This has been thrown around.  there are two ways to do it.  One would be a natural geographic split for the North and South.

NORTH:  Boston College, Louisville, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest
SOUTH:  Clemson, Duke, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Miami, North Carolina, NC State

Two main issues with this.  One, that means the north schools won't get a game in the state of Florida every two years like they get right now.  That's huge for recruiting.  Right now, every Atlantic Division school gets to play at Florida State every other year; every Coastal team gets to play in Miami at the same timeframe.  While the Atlantic and Coastal divisions may be confusing, it does break up the geographic makeup pretty evenly to each division.

They other problem is that it breaks up some huge rivalries, namely North Carolina-Virginia ... aka The Oldest Rivalry In The South.  Oh, and Wake Forest now is separated from each of the other North Carolina schools.

Another possible split would be a traditional ACC and "newbie" divisions.

ATLANTIC:  Boston College, Florida State, Louisville, Miami, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Virginia Tech
COASTAL:  Clemson, Duke, Georgia Tech, North Carolina, NC State, Virginia, Wake Forest

Now some of those older rivalries will stay since this is essentially the old ACC and Big East split into their own divisions with Florida State in the Atlantic to even it out (in essence, pre-1990 and post-1990 expansion).

That Florida problem from before?  It is still there.  And while some rivalries are preserved, you lose ones that have formed like Virginia-Virginia Tech and Clemson-Florida State.

To be honest, the makeup of the divisions seem to be fine.


With the Big 12 trying to get a waiver to hold a championship game without 12-teams, the ACC may try to have it where they can hold a championship game without setting up into two divisions.  If so, that would open up a new way of scheduling that could solve a lot of these problems.

For the sake of argument, let's say the ACC can scrap divisions and have a 14-team league and the top two teams play for the ACC Championship in Charlotte.  Why not have a schedule where a school has three yearly rivals and among the other 10 schools you have five one year and five the next?  Then you play your three rivals every year and the other schools once every other year and you get to visit each city at least once in every four seasons.

Doesn't that solve the issue?

So let's get to the rivalries:

BOSTON COLLEGE:  Florida State, Miami, Syracuse
CLEMSON:  Florida State, Georgia Tech, Syracuse
DUKE:  NC State, North Carolina, Wake Forest
FLORIDA STATE:  Boston College, Clemson, Miami
GEORGIA TECH:  Clemson, Louisville, Miami
LOUISVILLE:  Georgia Tech, Pittsburgh, Virginia Tech
MIAMI:  Boston College, Georgia Tech, Florida State
NORTH CAROLINA:  Duke, NC State, Virginia
NC STATE:  Duke, North Carolina, Wake Forest
PITTSBURGH:  Louisville, Syracuse, Virginia
SYRACUSE:  Boston College, Clemson, Pittsburgh, 
VIRGINIA:  North Carolina, Pittsburgh, Virginia Tech
VIRGINIA TECH:  Louisville, Virginia, Wake Forest
WAKE FOREST:  Duke, NC State, Virginia Tech

This can be rearranged if necessary, but it is a good rough draft.  The pros are the fact that you keep most of those yearly rivalries that are needed but also keeps a much, much tighter rotation among the other schools.  The con is the fact that it may not be fair.  After all, you are asking Boston College to face Florida State and Miami each season while Duke gets NC State, UNC and Wake Forest each year.  That could really swing a conference race.

Either way they go, it may be better than the status quo.

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