The Atlantic Coast Conference has released its adjusted schedule plan — 10 conference games, one nonconference game — and its actual 10-game league slate:
The 2020 Football Schedule Model has been announced.
— ACC Football (@ACCFootball) July 29, 2020
The Notre Dame piece of the puzzle — the Irish being allowed to compete for the ACC championship, with television money from Notre Dame games being distributed to other members of the conference — is obviously the component most people will focus on.
I will focus on another key component of this schedule release: no divisions.
Yes, there will not be an ACC Atlantic or ACC Coastal in 2020, if we do play football. The top two teams in the conference will play for the ACC title.
This isn’t a permanent change… but should it be?
Talk to ACC fans. I think they would love it.
The divisional setup in the ACC wouldn’t be so bad if the schedule rotation was a lot better… but the prevailing schedule rotation has been terrible, a longstanding sore spot for fans in the conference.
Duke and Clemson, Wake Forest and North Carolina, and other teams separated by divisions don’t play each other often. The problem was so acute and frustrating that Wake and UNC played a “nonconference” game last year.
If you asked most ACC football fans what the schedule rotation should be in a divisional system, it would be a “3-5-5” plan: three fixed games each year, with five teams rotating in alternate years. That way, ACC teams play every other team in the conference in a two-season span.
If we are going to keep divisions, that should be the model… but Wednesday’s ACC schedule announcement offers the obvious alternative: Why not just do away with divisions? Have the two best teams play in the conference title game, so that a five-loss Pittsburgh team doesn’t get slaughtered by Clemson in prime time.
Remove the artificial constraint imposed by divisions, so that ACC teams can play each other more regularly and aren’t segregated for several years.
Political commentator John McLaughlin used to needle panelist Morton Kondracke on “The McLaughlin Group” show decades ago. “You’ve stumbled onto the truth, Morton.”
Maybe the ACC stumbled onto the truth here. Maybe it has realized — by accident, or by pandemic, take your pick — that divisional formatting is utterly unnecessary. Let’s use this as a time to reform ACC scheduling.