Injecting imbalance and inequity into ACC football
Posted June 5, 2013
The Atlantic Coast Conference released their inter-divisional schedule rotation for football through 2024 yesterday amid exactly zero controversy and even less conversation. And, while that might be fine on one hand, the lack of serious discussion is awful on the other. College football has always thrived, even feasted, on loud debates surrounding rankings, schedules, fairness, etc. If you don't think those water cooler arguments are a big reason that the game has turned into a multi-billion dollar business, you probably don't miss Keith Jackson on fall Saturday afternoons.
College football almost operates in a parallel universe in that controversy and unfairness are good -- no, GREAT -- for business. While the most important element in the successful grab for attention will always be the quality of the football, the spice that those angry discussions provide is the difference between a dish of vanilla ice cream and a hot fudge sundae.
There are two things missing from the neat little schedule rotation the conference PDF'd to the league's media; logic and sizzle. Unfortunately, if you added those factors to the equation you'd also be including imbalance and inequity.
So what. The time for fairness should have gone the way of your old, Jack Kramer wooden tennis racquet. We're in the composite age now and it's time to start acting accordingly. Here's what John Swofford should do, actually, what he HAS to do with regards to the football schedules.
1) It's time to make an adjustment to the divisions, so I'm going to do that for him. Boston College and Louisville (when they arrive) are moving to the Coastal Division. Georgia Tech and Pittsburgh, welcome to the Atlantic.
2) Because Virginia Tech's "permanent" cross-divisional game simply can't be Boston College, we're pairing the Hokies up with Clemson. Two like-minded schools in every single sense of the word, it makes no sense that they are scheduled to meet just twice in the next dozen years. For a conference that is screaming out for increased, high-level inventory for football, this is borderline criminal.
3) Louisville and Virginia are rivals? Do you know how many times the Cavaliers and Cardinals have seen each other from opposite sides of a gridiron? Twice. Yep, that's it. Two times, in 1988 and 89. No wonder the league couldn't wait to get these two paired up on an annual basis! Oh, they'll play every year, but as divisional rivals. Instead, the Cavaliers will draw Pittsburgh on the regular while the Cardinals get Georgia Tech. Editor's note: I'm fully aware that neither of those match ups are fantastic either.
4) If it was up to me, the ACC is going to own Thanksgiving weekend in terms of college football interest. First of all, Pittsburgh must renew their Backyard Brawl with West Virginia and we're playing that sucker Thanksgiving night. Right now, there are just two games that evening, Texas vs. Texas Tech and the Egg Bowl between Ole Miss and Mississippi State. There's zero reason why the "Brawl" couldn't be a major TV force in that time slot.
5) Friday, we're throwing out Virginia-Virginia Tech at noon and capping the Turkey Sandwich after-party with Miami vs. Louisville. My system puts both of the local schools from South Beach in the same division so they can play every single year as opposed to twice per decade. In case you were wondering, the 2013 Louisville roster has 14 players from the city of Miami and 28 total from the state of Florida.
6) Thanksgiving Saturday features the three ACC-SEC state championship games, plus Duke-Wake, Syracuse-Boston College and the Old North State season finale between the Wolfpack and Tar Heels. This is a conference that deserves to finish the season with a bang, not a relatively random slate of games.
Remember, the goal of the schedule-maker is to provide the best possible inventory to the television partner, or -- in the case of the ACC -- our internet provider. Anything else runs counterproductive to creating the level of interest necessary for football in our league to garner the attention of the pigskin-starved masses in Lay-Z-boys up and down the eastern seaboard.
While I'm at it, let me change one more thing, but from a far more meta perspective. From here forward, games against FCS teams no longer count towards bowl-eligibility. That doesn't mean you can't play them. I can see, from a coach's and program's point of view, the benefit gained from a guarantee game. But, if you're not going to win a half-dozen games against teams at your scholarship level, you can't waste time preparing for the Cubed Cheese Bowl, you need to get your rear end out on the recruiting trail.
Want to promote good will among the lower level schools in your state? Play a real Spring Football game against a team from a lower level. You'll draw more fans and drive some actual meaning into the off-season.
Of course, you'll need some cooperation from the NCAA to pull this off, but that's why I'm taking control of this situation.
Next, I'll tackle the playoff selection committee. You know they're going to mess that up as well, right?