The Big Ten made the long-rumored division realignment and nine-game conference schedule official over the weekend. The conference will realign into East and West divisions starting in 2014, as well as begin a nine-game conference schedule beginning in 2016.
Setting aside the fact that I think the ACC should make both of these moves -- realign the divisions and move to a nine-game conference schedule -- one of the more interesting aspects of the scheduling change is parity-based scheduling.
"In the first 18 years, you're going to see a lot of competition between teams at the top of either division," Delany said. "We call that a bit of parity-based scheduling, so you'll see Wisconsin, Nebraska and Iowa playing a lot of competition against Penn State, Ohio State and Michigan. But it will rotate. Early on, we feel this gives the fans what they want."
Not to get too NFL-y on you, but could a similar arrangement work in the ACC?
This probably doesn't make much sense in the ACC, especially with only one rotating game against teams from the other division. Aside: it feels increasingly less like a conference when you play teams from the other division at a once-every-six-years clip.
Still, there are some benefits to scheduling in this way. A parity-based scheduling arrangement would produce more interesting cross-divisional matchups, improve strength of schedule for the conference's top teams (for playoff positioning) and better the league's available TV inventory (hint, hint).
Take this year's schedule for example. Here are the non-rotating cross-divisional matchups:
Using last year's final standings as an approximate guide -- and factoring in Syracuse (5-2 in final year in Big East) and Pittsburgh (3-4) as third in the Atlantic and fifth in the Coastal, respectively ... yet debatable -- here would be the 2013 non-rotating cross-divisional matchups in the first year of the scheduling model:
Florida State at North Carolina
Clemson at Miami
Syracuse at Georgia Tech
N.C. State at Virginia Tech
Wake Forest at Pittsburgh
Maryland at Duke
Boston College at Virginia
The Syracuse-Georgia Tech matchup remains the same, but on the whole, I would argue that these are more compelling matchups than the 2013 schedule. The top two teams in the Atlantic are paired with the top two from the Coastal, plus interesting matchups at the bottom between Maryland and Duke in the Terps final year in the conference and BC-Virginia (which may only sound appealing to me ... still. And TOB-ing).
If you want to get completely crazy and throw out the permanent cross-over opponents, next year's schedule would look like this subject to a parity-based scheduling formula:
Florida State - North Carolina, Miami
Clemson - Miami, Georgia Tech
Syracuse - Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech
N.C. State - Virginia Tech, Pittsburgh
Wake Forest - Pittsburgh, Duke
Maryland - Duke, Virginia
Boston College - Virginia, North Carolina
This may be an idea far too ahead of its time. The ACC would likely have to first realign the divisions (and scrap/revise the permanent cross-over rivalries) and move back towards a nine-game conference schedule before even thinking about parity-based scheduling. Should the ACC decide to fix both of those issues, however, parity-based scheduling seems to be the next logical step to improve the product and give fans and TV more compelling cross-divisional matchups.