Doing away with ACC's divisions is an idea whose time has come
|Sunday, February 13, 2022, 8:00 AM- -|
The Atlantic Coast Conference doing away with the two divisions in football is an idea whose time has come. Now it’s up to the league to make a decision and ask the NCAA to allow it to happen.
The ACC held its annual winter meetings last week in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and at the forefront of discussions were talks about football scheduling and doing away with the Atlantic and Coastal Divisions.
To put it simply, divisions don't work well with competitive scheduling balance and often delay the games between teams for long spans of time. For instance, Pitt has been in the league for almost a decade and Clemson made its first trip to the Steel City this past season. The Tigers haven’t played at Virginia since 2013 and haven’t played at Duke since 2012.
Playing with 14 teams – or 15 if you add Notre Dame to the mix – is a nightmare. In the SEC, for instance, Georgia will play at Texas A&M for the first time in 2024, even though the Aggies joined the league in 2012. There are also instances where the two best teams in the conference are in the same division and a lesser team is allowed to play in the conference championship game.
The big holdup - the NCAA currently requires divisions for conference championship games in conferences of 12-or-more teams. The ACC has not yet reached out to the NCAA about removing divisions, but it could happen in the near future, according to the report.
So, what would a potential Clemson schedule look like if the league went to the format used in 2020 during the pandemic when the Tigers and Notre Dame played for the title? I went over a lot of different scenarios, including giving each team one permanent rival, two permanent rivals, etc., and none of them really seemed to work. What I wanted to do was make sure that each school played every other school in the league at least once over a two or three year period. But let’s say you’re Clemson, do you want NC State and FSU as your two permanent rivals? Or do you want FSU and maybe Georgia Tech?
If it’s just one rival, maybe FSU wants Miami and not Clemson. After a lot of thinking – and that hurts if you know me – I came up with the following scenario.
Let’s start with Notre Dame – the Irish saw their regular schedule go haywire during the 2020 season, and they were able to play an ACC schedule. As it stands now, however, they are not part of the ACC standings and likely won’t join anytime soon as a full-time football member. So the Irish can continue to play five ACC teams a year, and for those five teams, that is considered an out-of-conference game.
That leaves 14 teams. Give each team three permanent rivals, and that leaves 10 teams. You play five of those teams each year, meaning you see each conference member every two years. For our purposes, and given what other teams and programs would want, let’s make Florida St., NC State, and Georgia Tech Clemson’s three permanent rivals. If you do that, an ACC schedule might look like this every two years.
At Georgia Tech
at NC State
at Florida St.
In year three, you simply flip the home and away from the five you played in year one. In year four, you flip the home and away from the five you played in year two.
That means you play every other league school at least once every two years, and you play at their place and host them once every four years.
It will be interesting to see what the ACC does, and what the NCAA allows. In the meantime, it’s at least a little bit of fun to think about “what if” and I would love to see your ideas on permanent rivals and your scheduling ideas.