Tweaking the ACC Football Schedule Based on the Current Divisions with a new proposal.


@Hokiesmash  authored most of this piece, and I threw in a few thoughts. With everything on the table as it comes to college football scheduling, how about this proposal for the ACC?

Happy Memorial Day Weekend, Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) sports fans.  Wherever you are in the world, please take time to thank those that have sacrificed in service for their country.

Let’s get right to it:  The ACC recently announced that it would remain at an eight-game conference football schedule.   My blogging partner, Jeff Fann (@TalkinACCSports on Twitter) wrote a really good post on the ACC’s recent decision to remain at an eight game conference schedule.  Jeff was right when he said:

It gives the ACC the best opportunity to get into the 4 team playoffs and access bowls, and provides flexibility of scheduling. As the SEC has smartly done, you do this by winning more games not scheduling more conference games. Unless proven otherwise you want to the path of least resistance. That doesn’t mean you don’t want to schedule some tougher OOC games from time to time. That obviously builds credibility.


With the addition of Notre Dame rotating through the ACC teams once every 3 years, by averaging 5 games a year with ACC opponents, the ACC already has a built in OOC scheduling agreement.


As I said, losing certain conference matchups for long periods of time is a drawback. There is no question, but the best opportunity  for the ACC to get more bowl eligible teams and more wins is through the 8+1 setup.

In June 2013, the ACC announced a 12-year schedule for rotating crossover opponents, which completes the future conference football schedules through 2024.  The eight game model was the cornerstone of this arrangement (and Notre Dame was also added to this mix).

The ACC, however, will want to tweak this arrangement in future years.  We will drop a proposal later in this post, but first, a little history is order:

Here are the current criteria for scheduling ACC football games: (from @hokiesports):

  1. Each ACC school will play eight conference games annually, four at home and four on the road.

  2. Each ACC school will play three home divisional games and three on the road.

  3. Each ACC school will play one home cross divisional game and one road cross divisional game. When schools will play their permanent crossover opponent at home, they will play their rotating crossover opponent on the road and vice versa.

  4. Within each division, all teams will either play all of their primary crossover games at home or away in a given year with all of the rotating crossover opponents all played at home or away.

  5. Each ACC school will play all of their rotating crossover opponents twice during the 12-year rotation, once at home and once on the road, but not consecutively.

As a review, the Coastal Division includes Virginia Tech, Pittsburgh, Virginia, North Carolina, Duke, Miami, and Georgia Tech.  The Atlantic Division includes Florida State, Clemson, Louisville (it was decided that the Cards would take Maryland’s spot in the ACC’s long-term football  schedule), Wake Forest, NC State, Boston College, and Syracuse.

Now, let’s take a look at each institution’s primary cross-over division opponent:

Coastal Division

Atlantic Division

Virginia Tech

Boston College

Georgia Tech



Florida State



North Carolina

NC State




Wake Forest

Assuming the ACC stays with its current divisional format (which we think it will in the foreseeable future), make one of the games that is a rotating crossover opponent a wildcard selection instead from the conference offices.  This will allow the conference to schedule attractive matchups for television.  We hear frequent chatter from fans of football schools that the ACC needs to schedule conference powers to play each other more often.  For example:

  • We are sure that Florida State fans would like to see Virginia Tech on the schedule more often (and vice versa).  We are sure that Virginia Tech fans would like to see Clemson on the schedule more often (and vice versa).  We are sure  that Miami fans would like to see Clemson on the schedule more often (and vice versa).  We are sure that Louisville fans would like to see Virginia Tech on the schedule more often (and vice versa).  A wildcard selection would provide the conference with a tool to schedule some very attractive matchups, which would build schedule strength in the playoff era.

  • The conference also has the opportunity to schedule some made-for-television match ups that would be good from a regional perspective.  In the new-look ACC, not every Coastal Division team is going to face every Atlantic Team every four years, anyway.  For example, the Coastal Division – Atlantic Division rotational cycle is such that  North Carolina and Wake Forest will play twice in a 12-year cycle.  The same goes for Duke and NC State – and Boston College and Pittsburgh.  There will be occasions when both teams in each of those pairings could be really good one year.  Under the wildcard option, the conference could schedule these localized matchups more often – and ratings would be high in those specific markets.

  • With the ACC already basically accepting conference opponents as non-conference games, why not take advantage of this to create 2 or 3 compelling matchups a year? Here’s a three game set for example one year. Clemson vs Virginia Tech – National TV game. Wake Forest vs North Carolina – ACC Network Game / Local Fan Interest. Georgia Tech vs Florida State in the Georgia Dome – That could be an National TV or ACC Network Game, that utilizes Georgia Tech’s location and the Seminoles large Atlanta alumni base.

We did not get into the prospect of a nine-game ACC conference schedule, but that is something that should be in the table in the future to help the ACC pitch a cable television channel to network executives.  It could work much the same way in that the conference ensures that each ACC school plays all of their rotating crossover opponents twice during the 12-year rotation, once at home and once on the road – and then the 9th game becomes a wild card game from the conference.

A future post will address what a world would look like without ACC divisions – it could be fun – but it also could be scary.

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1 comment

  1. Hokie Mark says:

    We are assuming each team must play all 6 teams in its own division annually. If that requirement goes away so that teams can play, let’s say, 4 teams in division and 4 cross-over, then in that scenario every team plays every other team twice in a 4-year cycle. You get LOTS of made-for-TV games that way; plus, if you set it up with 3 permanent rivals (2 in division and 1 cross-division), you can still develop 3 good rivalries for every team. Think FSU vs. Miami, Clemson and Louisville, or Va Tech vs. BC, UVa and Miami. IMO, it’s the best possible scheduling model, given the stated constraints (must keep divisions, must keep current cross-over rivals, etc.)

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