Coming out of the ACC spring meetings in Amelia Island, Fla., plenty of folks had things to say about what was/wasn't discussed. One of those folks was Florida State football coach Jimbo Fisher, who talked to ESPN's Andrea Adelson about the potential for an ACC football rivalry weekend.
Fisher, expanding upon that to Adelson:
"... We have quite a few rivalries. It builds tradition. You build history, and how you play your season, how you plan your season, how you gauge your season of working up to it, how you set your timetables. When people know, they set their schedules based off that. They can set vacation, they can set off time. I know I’m going to Florida State-Clemson; I know I’m going to Florida State-Florida; I know I’m going to Florida State-Miami. Think about how many times you have to plan to go to that."
In many ways, he's not wrong. As someone who regularly bitches about scheduling around here, I agree that it would be nice to know your opponents a little bit further out than six months or so before the season. Travel planning is tougher the less notice you have. The SEC and Big Ten lay out schedules years in advance so you can circle the big games. Fisher alludes to this in the piece with Adelson. But it also ignores two critical factors that the ACC deals with which the other power leagues don't:
- Several ACC teams' biggest rivals are in other conferences (the SEC)
- The ACC is the only league that also has to work with an "outside" team's (Notre Dame) schedule
So when you set a "rivalry weekend," are you prioritizing your ACC rivals, or your traditional, non-conference ones? How many "rivalry weekends" are we supposed to have? Does it make the most sense to put ALL the spotlight games on the same weekend?
The better request for Fisher and others may just be to set the entire conference schedule sooner, like the rest of the Power Five. That may take some leaning on Notre Dame, and some additional pressure on slow-to-move-on-scheduling schools like Syracuse. But it's probably the best bet to keep fans and teams happy, and also be realistic about the league's stature.
Picture, for a second, if Fisher's call to have a couple "rivalry weekends" comes to fruition. Syracuse would face Boston College in the primary slot, obviously... but where does that fall in the big scheme of league rivalries? Pretty far down, resulting in relegation to ESPN3/RSN. The ACC seems dead-set on matching us up with Pitt, so another "rivalry weekend" features SU and the Panthers for the umpteenth year in a row despite us caring very little about one another. Again, buried in the rivalry lineup and tossed on to an RSN.
Plus, if you put all of these big matchups onto one weekend, what happens during the other weeks? You end up with high-interest games on lower-tier TV distribution because of over-crowding for certain dates too. So for every Saturday that features all of FSU-Miami, Clemson-Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech-Virginia, North Carolina-NC State, etc., you get one that's chock-full of FSU-Wake Forest, Boston College-Louisville, Virginia-Pitt, Duke-Syracuse, etc.
Like the article mentions, without folks talking about it much, this idea seems pretty unlikely to move anywhere for the time being. But perhaps it could gain some steam and Syracuse could get behind it, if it just refocused on the scheduling portion of this argument. Just release the full league schedule several years out instead. You can have a set (not ACC-specific) rivalry weekend to close the year if you want. We've done those in the past (not this year) and they work well for the league, even if Syracuse-Boston College falls pretty far down the ladder. To have all rivalry games clustered and scheduled out years in advance, though? Not sure it's in anyone's best interest.