The new ACC Football schedule model is out, so what does this mean for the Syracuse Orange? We gathered our staff together to share our thoughts and we brought back the “Godfather of Syracuse Schedule Analysis” John Cassillo to contribute.
In case you forgot the opponents, here they are:
In 2023, the ACC will adopt a 3-5-5 football scheduling model and all 14 schools will compete in one division.— ACC Football (@ACCFootball) June 28, 2022
Teams will play 3 primary opponents annually + face the other 10 teams twice during the 4-year cycle, once at home and once on the road.
: https://t.co/7cvsuH48j3 pic.twitter.com/ne5TjwtfYd
What are your thoughts on Syracuse’s three annual opponents?
John: Like it or not, Syracuse, BC and Pitt are sort of tethered to one another, so having them as permanent rivals tracks. The weirder one is Florida State, which would conceivably have other (better) options, but the league may also want to avoid over-scheduling the ‘Noles every year.
Personally, would’ve rather had that third spot filled by either Virginia Tech or Wake Forest, who have a weird matchup with one another instead. Either may be better off facing Florida State than each other from an interest standpoint. And the Orange would definitely get more out of facing the former Big East rival Hokies. Wake’s more of a similar programs matchup that expands upon the weird series between these teams over the last decade.
Kevin: As soon as I saw Florida State’s AD say that he requested Syracuse or Boston College, I felt this would be the annual opponents. I think it’s fine to keep two Northern rivals and one of the Florida schools. As OrangeRay pointed out yesterday, it would have been nice to have Pitt and BC split on the home schedule though.
Michael: It’s pretty much what I expected to happen. BC and Pitt were near guarantees, and since both Miami and FSU had interest in BC and SU, you had to figure both would get their wish and end up with one northern opponent.
Steve: Agreed on the above we knew what we were getting with Pitt and BC and it helps to have a Florida option in there. Track record recruiting Florida is there and guarantees a “name” opponent on the schedule for what that’s worth.
Would you have chosen a different school for one of these spots and who would that be?
John: Sort of addressed that above, so sorry for jumping the gun.
If I’m asked how I might tweak the decided-upon scheduling matrix slightly for Syracuse, then yeah, just swap in VaTech or Wake in that third spot. If I’m starting from scratch, Louisville might be preferred over both the Hokies and Deacons since we’ve had some consistent recent history — even if it’s been fairly one-sided in favor of the Cardinals.
Kevin: Personally I think Wake would have worked well because the schools have played some fun, weird games and they share a similar profile. If I had the choice I’d probably swap them for Florida State.
Mike: Ditto for Wake. Back when we did predictions on this I had them as my third team because of the recent history between the two schools and their overall competitiveness. While the other two should stay pretty even matchups, FSU clearly has the advantage.
Steve: Looks like everyone’s ballpark on the same page here. Cassillo’s Kamar-Taj of scheduling has taught us all well. Wake or Virginia Tech were the two that had jumped at me, which seems to track.
Andy: Echoing much of above, BC and Pitt always felt like locks for this model to cut down on travel costs, keep historic rivalries intact, and at least keep the illusion of Northeast football alive in the ACC. That said, FSU feels odd, especially when Miami got Louisville as a full time rival. I do think Syracuse wanted a Florida rival due to recruiting value that the Orange squeeze out of the state, but FSU feels forced, and Miami provides a lot of the same value proposition (protect bigger programs from impossible schedules) while adding historic “rivalry” connotations.
How do you think the planned non-conference games fit the new model?
John: Admittedly, what struck me right away about the new model was how much more difficult things looked from year-to-year. Now part of that’s just bias talking as I regularly chalked up annual games against BC, Pitt, NC State and Wake as swing games even when that was potentially inaccurate.
But this model does highlight what TNIAAM has said for over a decade and a half: Schedule lighter in non-conference play if you want to make a bowl game. With what looks like a more competitive schedule every year (even if it’s not necessarily any more difficult than previous iterations), the goal should still be finding non-conference opponents the Orange can beat until the program can consistently go at least 6-6 for several years on end.
Kevin: I’m curious how Syracuse will fill the two open spots in 2024 but 2025 now has road games against Notre Dame, Clemson, Florida State, Wake and Virginia along with the opener against Tennessee. Syracuse should really try to move that Notre Dame game to a different year.
Michael: If the 2025 schedule stays how it is, let’s just say I’m glad that I graduate before then. Yheesh. On the brighter side, I am glad that at least two of the annual matchups are winnable games and Clemson isn’t a yearly ordeal anymore. (My condolences to Georgia Tech).
Steve: Can we have a re-do on that 2025 slate? And will this force the administration in the future to look toward what we’ve been saying for years and scheduling OOC wins?
Andy: 2025 (@ND, @Clemson, @FSU, basically road game vs Tennessee) aside, the 2024 schedule becomes first priority to fill with winnable games to help build momentum. We don’t know beyond that for the ACC, but know that ND and PSU will be appearing on the schedule, so here’s hoping the dice roll works out in the Orange’s favor.
Do you think this schedule model will last beyond 2026?
John: I think using this setup for four years to start is a good way to commit to something while also making it a bit of a trial run. Perhaps they see after four seasons that some teams just have much harder schedules than others each year. I just hope they don’t overreact too much to that either, since the sport’s pretty cyclical outside of the bluebloods.
If anything is tweaked past 2026, maybe it just comes from fan interest. The only other need to adjust would be expansion-based. And with the College Football Playoff seemingly parked at four right now and Notre Dame lacking any desire or reason to join the league as a result, that would indicate (to me) that it’s not happening.
Kevin: I think you’ll see this continue with revisions of the annual opponents.....as long as the ACC still exists in 2026.
Michael: This model shouldn’t go anywhere if the ACC stays the way it is. Now if the Big 12 collapses and we go into 16-team Super Conference territory... then we can talk.
Steve: Test it out, try it on, see what works. I wouldn’t be surprised if it gets tweaked but conceptually stays similar.
Andy: This is basically just a twist on Bill C’s Pod Format (arrange teams in pods, have pods play each other) which seems like the future of conferences moving forward. If the ACC wants to be truly innovative, they’d adapt this model across all sports, including applicable Olympic sports in order to bunch travel and justify schools paying for better travel for those teams. You could have multiple sports make a single trip to a school in one shot, and that is more interesting to me than any new football model that’s not full time podding.
Thanks to John for returning home to talk schedules. Now let’s hear your thoughts in the comments.