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Replacing ACC Football Divisions With Permanent Rivals and a Balanced Schedule

Fixing some of the lingering issues from yesterday's exploration...

Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

Yesterday, we dove into what the ACC could look like if its awful divisional alignment was replaced with a more flexible scheduling setup. With three permanent rivals, you could rotate the other five conference opponents every year, letting each ACC school face every other program once every two seasons (as opposed to once every six now).

The one big issue, however, was the scheduling matrix. Yesterday's wasn't solid enough to yield balanced schedules for every school. In fact, as we saw with the Syracuse Orange, things were far from balanced for many.of the schools. That's largely because we didn't start with a set matrix or rules beforehand.

So we went back to the drawing board and made some rules:

  • Florida State and Miami cannot appear on any teams' schedule in the same year
  • Virginia and Virginia Tech cannot appear on any teams' schedule in the same year
  • Clemson and Georgia Tech cannot appear on any teams' schedule in the same year

These were made for both competitive and recruiting purposes, for the advantage of all league members.

Additionally, there were "nice to have" rules that were adhered to as much as possible:

  • No team can play more than two (non-rival) North Carolina schools in the same year
  • Florida State and Clemson cannot appear on any (non-rival) teams' schedule in the same year

Overall, the rules above balanced out the schedule for all 14 members, both competitively and geographically. Oh, and Syracuse has a better shot to win games EVERY year, rather than every other year. I've redeemed myself for now. "Yay."

First, the permanent rivals are the same as they were last time. As a refresher, the permanent rivals:

ACC Permanent Rivals

Familiar? Great. Now, the new even years:

ACC Revised Even Years

Last time around, Syracuse was getting knocked around by Clemson and Miami, just like they they potentially are this time. But in the previous setup, the Orange had to face Florida State and North Carolina in those years as well.

As for the odd years...

Revised Odd Years ACC

Great? Great.


Of course, the glimmer may wear off in a few years, from a competitive standpoint. Should Syracuse improve by leaps and bounds, Wake Forest's even years look incredibly rough. But you could also say the same about any two teams. College sports is incredibly cyclical, and this group of 14 football schools hasn't been together long enough to really understand what they'll round into. Coaching hires also never stick around long enough today to see that either.

That's almost why this will work. If only Jim Delany stops being such a goddamn buzzkill and just let conference championship deregulation happen, anyway. Because he and the Big Ten won't budge, and the power conferences are generally too busy getting in their own way, a 14-team conference needs divisions.

Still, we can dream. And the above seems like as good of a place as any to start doing so.