Orange Watch: ACC football needs to take the lead and eliminate divisional alignment

Jump_Wagner2018
Syracuse plays against Wagner. Mandatory Photo Credit: Kicia Sears, The Juice Online.

Item: As the college football bowl season comes to an end with Monday night’s national championship game in Santa Clara, Calif. between the sport’s recent goliaths Alabama and Clemson Tigers, we’re urging ACC Commissioner John Swofford to take the charge in conjunction with those in leadership at his member institutions to remove the Atlantic and Coastal Divisions, have all 14 teams play out a new schedule rotation, with the top two teams meeting annually in the lucrative championship game the first Saturday of December in Charlotte.

When Syracuse travels to play Duke in football for the second meeting in ACC play (and fourth all-time matchup) next season, it will mark the beginning of the second go-round for the Orange against the league’s six Coastal Division opponents other than the annual cross-over game with seventh division member Pittsburgh.

That means that even though they are in the same league, for every six games SU plays a N.C. State or Wake Forest, for example, they are only playing the likes of Miami, Virginia Tech, and Duke only once. And Duke is exactly the model of a private school like Syracuse that it should grow a rivalry with in football, just as it has done quickly over six seasons in basketball and lacrosse.

Of the Coastal teams that have still not played in the Dome since the ‘Cuse joined the ACC in 2013 Georgia Tech is not scheduled to play on campus until 2020, Virginia in 2022, and Miami not until a mind-boggling 2024, or 12 seasons since the former Big East rivals became ACC-mates. 12 seasons!

So, what to do? Scrap the divisions and create new rotations that have each team playing three “rival opponents” each season rotating home/away games. For Syracuse it makes the most sense to simply add fellow Big East ex-Pat Louisville to the current annual games with Boston College and Pittsburgh.

The Orange would play five games against one group of ACC teams in one season, then the other five teams the next season, and reverse the home/away spots the following two seasons for the total of eight ACC games. It would cut the length of time to two seasons, as opposed to six, to play the other 13 conference teams, and four seasons overall to complete home-and-home games with all 13 opponents.

If a ninth conference game is eventually added to boost the inventory for the upcoming launch (this August) of the linear ACC TV Network, it would simply hasten the process of facing each team more frequently, even though nine games with 14 teams wouldn’t be mathematically fluid, the time period would still shrink.

» Related: Way too early predictions on the 2019 Syracuse football team

Here’s a theoretical example of how future Syracuse football schedules could (the non-conference games are currently scheduled, many dates of other ACC schools are already entrenched, and SU’s crossover game is already scheduled on the road at Duke in 2019, meaning there has to be another home game in 2020) play out ensuring a minimum six Dome games (four ACC) each year:

2019
Liberty-Road                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Maryland-Road                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Holy Cross-Home                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Western Michigan-Home
Boston College-Home
Louisville-Road
Pittsburgh-Home
Clemson-Home
Duke-Road
Florida State-Road
N.C. State-Road
Wake Forest-Home

2020
Rutgers-Road
Liberty-Home
Non-Conference TBD-Home
Non-Conference TBD-Road
Boston College-Road
Louisville-Home
Pittsburgh-Road
Virginia-Home
Miami-Home
Virginia Tech-Road
Georgia Tech-Home
North Carolina-Road

2021
Albany-Home
Rutgers-Home
Liberty-Home
Non Conference TBD-Road
Boston College-Home
Louisville-Road
Pittsburgh-Home
Clemson-Home
Duke-Road
Florida State-Road
N.C. State-Road
Wake Forest-Home

2022
Ohio-Home
Purdue-Home
Notre Dame-Home
Non Conference TBD-Road
Boston College-Road
Louisville-Home
Pittsburgh-Road
Virginia-Road
Miami-Home
Virginia Tech-Home
Georgia Tech-Road
North Carolina-Home

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Brad Bierman
About Brad Bierman 579 Articles
Now in his fifth decade of covering SU sports, Brad was sports director of WSYR radio for eight years into the early 1990s, then wrote the Orange Watch column for The Big Orange/The Juice print publication for 18 years. A Syracuse University graduate, Brad currently runs his own media consulting business in the Philadelphia suburbs. Follow him on Twitter @BradBierman.