A little over a month ago, when the SEC was contemplating moving to a nine-game conference schedule, Year2 over at Team Speed Kills had an interesting, out-of-the-box scheduling model proposal. Given the inflexibility of the 6-1-1 schedule format, where non-crossover teams play just twice in 12 years, TSK wanted to junk divisions entirely.
Now to be clear, the conference would have to receive a waiver to stage the ACC Championship Game without divisions. Either that, or the NCAA would have to relax its restrictions on how conferences determine its champion -- giving individual conference more autonomy in crowning a champ -- for this to work. The league would also have to decide to move back to a nine-game conference schedule, which appears unlikely with Notre Dame involved (though when the SEC moves to a nine-game schedule in the not-so-distant future, I expect the ACC to follow suit).
Despite those two stumbling blocks, it's an interesting proposal to consider. Here's how it works:
Assign everyone five permanent rivals instead of having divisions. Five spots on the schedule would be the same annually, leaving four spots to rotate between eight schools. Everyone plays everyone else in any given three-year span, ensuring that a four-year player would see every school in the conference (which is an immediate improvement over the current 6-1-1 format).
The trick is in determining each schools' five permanent rivals. I took a shot at determining those rivalries below, drawing mainly on historical series records to preserve the conference's long-standing rivalries. There are a few cases where the historical rivalries don't match, so I had to make a few judgment calls here and there (hello, six-game BC-Louisville series!).
Here are my proposed rivals for each team, listed alphabetically:
Boston College: Louisville, Miami, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Wake Forest (#BCvsWakeBingo)
Clemson: Florida State, Georgia Tech, North Carolina, N.C. State, Wake Forest
Duke: Georgia Tech, North Carolina, N.C. State, Virginia, Wake Forest
Florida State: Clemson, Georgia Tech, Louisville, Miami, Virginia Tech
Georgia Tech: Clemson, Duke, Florida State, Miami, Virginia
Louisville: Boston College, Florida State, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Virginia Tech
Miami: Boston College, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Pittsburgh, Syracuse
North Carolina: Clemson, Duke, N.C. State, Virginia, Wake Forest
N.C. State: Clemson, Duke, North Carolina, Virginia, Wake Forest
Pittsburgh: Boston College, Louisville, Miami, Syracuse, Virginia Tech
Syracuse: Boston College, Louisville, Miami, Pittsburgh, Virginia Tech
Virginia: Duke, Georgia Tech, North Carolina, N.C. State, Virginia Tech
Virginia Tech Hokies: Florida State, Louisville, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Virginia
Wake Forest Demon Deacons: Boston College, Clemson, Duke, N.C. State, North Carolina
The Hokies are actually the toughest program to place. If you go by all-time series length, Virginia Tech would draw Virginia (obvi), N.C. State, Florida State, Wake Forest and North Carolina. However, with the Carolina schools having played each other much more frequently, the Hokies are thrown on the backburner in terms of priority. There are some other fairly lengthy series in the old ACC that fall off, but this model comes much closer to preserving more of them.
For BC, we'd have a schedule that included Louisville, Miami, Pittsburgh, Syracuse and Wake Forest annually, and a rotating schedule with four of Clemson / Duke / Florida State / Georgia Tech / North Carolina / N.C. State / Virginia / Virginia Tech completing the schedule. Not bad.
What do you think? What annual football series are missing from the above? How would you arrange the five permanent rivals?