Interesting bit of news this morning that merits some further discussion: Wake Forest and North Carolina scheduled a "non-conference" football series for 2019 and 2021, respectively. The teams used to play fairly often, but two rounds of ACC expansion have relegated the series to just "another" conference game. Wake and UNC play this fall, and then not again until 2022 in "conference" play.
This sort of arrangement has been hinted at for awhile, but this is the first time there's actually something on the books to purposefully match up two in-conference teams in a non-conference game. Cal and Colorado played back in 2011 -- the Buffaloes' first year in the Pac-12 -- because neither could find a replacement game. Syracuse briefly considered the idea of scheduling Rutgers twice back in 2012, though DOC Gross shut that down and then we ended up playing Missouri instead.
But on to the current day: this Wake/UNC arrangement opens up a whole new collection of possibilities for college football scheduling. As we know, each Power Five school must play at least nine games against fellow Power Five schools -- a stipulation that games like this would satisfy. The ACC and SEC play eight league games each, but obviously with 14 teams, that's become a bit problematic in terms of keeping rivalries intact. So now, suddenly, we have a tangible solution to that. So does Syracuse have any Coastal schools it could/should schedule outside of conference play?
Wellll, not really. If Gross really wants to play in Atlanta and Miami (please, no), then an arrangement like this could give the team an opportunity to face Georgia Tech and Miami more often. Beyond that, maybe we schedule Duke more often because we have some things in common and that would make some logical sense.
But where this could really provide value is in terms of the overall conference scheduling. I'm, of course, talking about eliminating the permanent crossover -- bane of ACC football's existence for the past two seasons or more, and the reason we face Pitt every year by mandate. Under a system where schools are encouraged to schedule in-conference teams as non-conference opponents, this suddenly makes it easy to simply eliminate the permanent crossover altogether. Do Florida State and Miami still want to play every year? Make it a non-conference game when you're not on each other's schedules? Do we still want to play against Pittsburgh? Probably not, but if we did, simply put it on the non-conference slate instead. Plus, without permanent crossovers, every ACC school plays one another more often, so these "non-conference" games would only be needed every few years.
Who knows if this move by the Heels and Deacons yields some fundamental changes to the scheduling system (especially for the SEC and ACC), but it really should. If the conferences are going to be tethered by the current divisional format and 12-game schedule, then this gives schools a chance to embrace one of the best parts of college football -- the rivalries. Syracuse definitely has some bigger non-conference fish to fry (West Virginia, Penn State, in particular), but this seems like a solution to some of the other problems with scheduling relevant opponents -- at least in the short-term.