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Big Picture: What College Football Conference Championship De-Regulation Means for ACC

Hate the current divisional setup? It may soon be a distant memory.

Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Syracuse's football lot in the ACC is sort of difficult, as you're well aware at this point. Clemson and Florida State every year, plus Louisville too? Many years, that's a built-in 0-3 record before you factor in the difficult game the Orange always play in the non-conference schedule, plus whatever non-Pitt team they face from the Coastal. This may paint a bleak picture of our football future... if not for today's news, that is (covered by Sean a bit earlier).

Conference championship game de-regulation expected to pass for 2016

For those who don't recall, the Big 12 and ACC sent the NCAA a piece of legislation last February that would allow conferences to determine a champion however they deem fit. It's self-determination to a reasonable level, some might think. But perhaps to others, it's on par with the Anti-Federalist Papers. Regardless of your overall feelings on the matter, the bottom line is that the Big 12 and ACC have proposed the ability to do what they please with their respective conference championship and divisional structure. That first part matters a lot more for the Big 12, which just got sort-of hosed for not having a title game with 10 teams. The second part is big for the ACC, because it could mean an end to the non-geographic Atlantic and Coastal divisions currently employed by the conference.

But in what way? Well... no one actually knows. Says Big 12 Commissioner/NCAA Football Oversight Committee Chair Bob Bowslby:

"I think there's some belief that ACC would play three divisions, have two highest ranked play in postseason. Really, nobody cares how you determine your champion. It should be a conference-level decision."

"Three divisions? Well how does that math work out? There are 14 teams, and 14 divided by three is not an even number so..."

Oh. Notre Dame. Dammit.

Now that doesn't mean the Irish would come on full-time. Nope. Instead, they'd continue playing five games and SOMEHOW qualifying to play in a title game here. I don't know how this would work -- or if it will even come to fruition at this time -- but I don't like it and you shouldn't either.

If there were three divisions, you'd have to think the draw is more from a scheduling standpoint than an actual divisional alignment, especially since all three divisional "champs" wouldn't play for the title. BC Interruption editor emeritus Brian Favat put together one such proposal that helps us get to these three divisions last summer. In any setup, Syracuse would play Boston College and Pittsburgh (whatever) every year, and then from there, you'd think we'd want one of Louisville/Virginia Tech/Virginia/Miami every year, their schedules permitting. Under the "three permanent rivals" setup, teams would still play eight conference games per year, with three of those staying put, and the other five rotating. That allows every team to play the entire rest of a 14-team conference at least once every two years, and everyone home and away every four. At the very least, it eliminates in-conference "non-conference" scheduling nonsense.

In that case, Notre Dame is out of the equation beyond their five-game scheduling deal, which I think most of us would prefer. But in the case of their inclusion (again, hope not), where would Syracuse fall?

Probably in a "North division" with the Irish. An easy-ish split, if they choose to form three actual divisions, rather than just use them as some sort of scheduling partnership:

North: Boston College, Louisville, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Syracuse

Mid-Atlantic: Duke, North Carolina, NC State, Virginia, Virginia Tech

South: Clemson, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Miami, Wake Forest

A few things that don't work with the above: You still have to split up the Carolina schools (minor qualm, but still, they'd like to play one another), and the school that ends up south gets screwed. Louisville would probably like to avoid playing their old Big East brethren so often, and they also likely have more in common with UNC, Miami and Georgia Tech than the "North" schools. This also fails to fix the issue of making the title game a matchup of the two best teams, since again, the South allows for those "strongest" schools to get beat up in-division.


So what actually happens? I'd content the Notre Dame thoughts are still pretty off-base, and in reality, we likely see a scheduling format like the one proposed a few paragraphs ago. The Notre Dame dates stay intact, the conference championship game doesn't allow the Irish to just circumvent the process, AND (most importantly), every ACC team plays one another more often.

We'll have to wait to see what the final result is and when it's announced, but you can bet this will be a VERY hot topic at league meetings in the off-season as they aim to be ready to go once things move forward in 2016.

(P.S. -- BCI throws it out there, but "ABSOLUTELY NOT" on UConn)