This is something I get around to thinking about every year, and it's always right around the time UVA plays a game against a conference opponent that it hasn't seen in four years. The current ACC schedule rotation isn't bad as far as things go: it's easily comprehended, it preserves rivalries, and it keeps the suits happy with the dolla dolla bill y'all possibility of a Miami-FSU ACCCG. There's one gaping, ugly flaw, though: the idea that we share a conference with five schools with whom a home football game is a less common occurrence than a presidential election. Seriously, how much of a conference is it when you go four years in between playing a team? Next time there's a UVA-Clemson game - and these are two of the ACC's old guard, mind you, and still we play Miami every year - it will be 2013.
A couple different solutions exist that keep the schedule at eight games, but all are unpalatable. The Big 12 only has a two-season (three-year) gap in between games with various opponents, but they don't have cross-division rivalries: a must if we're to keep playing Maryland and the divisions aren't realigned. There's a way to set up a more convoluted rotation, which does fix the long gap in between playing a team but doesn't do anything about the five-year game between home games against them.
The Pac-10 plays nine conference games and probably will continue to do so as the Pac-12. The Big Ten is considering it. Why not the ACC? Virginia plays Idaho next season. I'm excited, I'll show you. Wait for it...
I have no problem at all with the idea of sacrificing games against Idaho and UTSA to get another conference game. Would UVA lose much revenue? Nope. The major barrier to a nine-game conference schedule for the Big Ten is the possibility that schools like Michigan and Ohio State would balk at losing a home game every other year. They'll fill the stadium playing Pee Wee's Preschool. UVA is visiting UTSA. Revenue: not a thing for us. Probably would come out better, actually.
(I do realize that the way ADs think, we'd probably lose the Penn State-type games instead of the UTSAs and VMIs, but let's pretend for a minute that won't happen. Because even if we do I want a nine-game conference schedule.)
Now, how to set this up? This is important. "I want a nine-game schedule" is a phrase, not a post. Propose a solution, don't just bring up a problem. Right? I see three good ways this can be done.
#1: The Convolusion
- Keep the single cross-division rivalry.
- Add one extra non-rival, cross-division opponent to the schedule.
- Rotate as follows:
Basically, that's sharing a permanent rivalry with team #1, and playing teams 2, 3, and 4; then 5, 6, and 2; then 3, 4, and 5; and so on. Grayed-out helmets are road games. Please don't harass me about this not fitting with the current schedule. The teams are interchangeable, it's just easier to show a picture.
Best part: A matchup would only ever take a season off, at most. Three home games instead of two against any opponent in a ten-year period, and at most four years instead of five in between them; usually fewer.
It's a lot more complex than what we have now. The current rotation is easy to memorize; this isn't. It'd result in endless posts on every message board, every season, asking "hay guyz what teams we play next year?!?" that would cause more conscientious folks to roll their eyes and provide the link to the ACC rotation schedule. Because it's posted now and it'd be posted again.
Plus, it would lead to potential Horrible Injustices. Well, not that horrible. But it takes ten years to fully rotate through to the beginning again; the current one only takes five.
#2: The Get Pumped For A Made For TV Rivalry
This involves a second permanent cross-division rival. UVA doesn't really have a natural candidate for that, except maybe FSU because of the cooked-up Jefferson-Eppes trophy. But it makes the rotation a lot simpler:
Again, the teams are interchangeable. It doesn't have to be Clemson.
This way any dummy ought to know when the next game against someone is. Again, only one season in between games against someone. Three seasons in between home games with a non-rival opponent. The downside is, you're going to have a lot of complaining about the assignment of a new rival ("Johnny got a bigger cupcake with more frosting than I did!"), but hell: you can easily swap rivals after four years. Let the ACC reassign rivals every four years based on the past four years of performances; intrigue awaits.
#3: The Realignment
Easy: just change the divisions, like this:
See what I did there? Yup, I just swapped GT and Miami for Maryland and NC State, is all. It preserves every actual rivalry and four of six current cross-division ones. And then, eliminate the cross-division rival thing. (Sorry, Duke-Wake and VT-BC.) After that it's a no-brainer to set up four games against the other division, and swap two teams out each season, rotating like so:
That's actually two full iterations. Such is the elegant simplicity. The teams are still interchangeable - that is, I don't care about the order, but the divisions are a must since I'm a UVA fans and UVA fans want to play a certain three teams every year. I suppose if you wanted to, you could take it a step further, swap BC with Duke or NC State, and make it North and South. NC State would squawk like hell though, their only real rival in the conference is UNC, and who knows how much UNC and Duke care about playing each other in football? It's an awfully lopsided series; I doubt Duke gives a damn.
This is the least likely because it requires the conference suits to give on their precious idea of a Miami-FSU ACCCG. But it's the most appealingly simple.
Nine games: I wants them. If the ACC expands any more, I definitely wants them, otherwise the gap in between playing these teams also expands accordingly, and at that point do you really even have a conference?
Final note: I did think about even more creative solutions, involving four divisions of three and whatnot. But that's impossible unless you want to get rid of the ACCCG, which will happen only after little green men blow up the ACC offices with proton guns. Because:
Regarding Conference Championship Games, NCAA bylaw 18.104.22.168 (c) states:
"Annual Exemptions. [FBS/FCS] The maximum number of football contests shall exclude the following:
(c) Twelve-Member Conference Championship Game. [FBS/FCS] A conference championship game between division champions of a member conference of 12 or more institutions that is divided into two divisions (of six or more institutions each), each of which conducts round-robin, regular-season competition among the members of that division..."
So you see.
Anyway, you know what I like. The poll at right is for you to decide what you like.