For five and soon to be six straight years, either Clemson or Florida State has won the ACC Atlantic. Assuming the 'Noles beat Duke or whoever the Coastal throws at them in 2014, it'll be the fourth straight year Clemson or Florida State has won the conference and likely the third blowout in those four championship games (GT gave FSU a scare in 2012).
Last season, when Clemson and Florida State stood so far above the rest of the conference, the ACC Championship was nothing more than a strange formality between a plucky team from a basketball school and a juggernaut on their way to a national championship (that resulted in a boring 45-7 contest). As my mind drifted during that snoozer title game, I began to wonder if there is a better way.
I drew up the following plan. Nix the divisions altogether! Forget pods or re-alignment, just get rid of them and assign each school not one but two permanent rivals, and rotate the rest of the schedule evenly through the remaining 11 ACC members. This preserves the important games such as Clemson vs. GT, Clemson vs. FSU, Miami vs. FSU, North Carolina vs. NC State, etc. It also allows the less interesting games to rotate out. Rather than getting Syracuse vs. Clemson every year, Clemson would play Virginia, Miami, and Pittsburgh just as often. Those may not be the most classic of rivalries, but it takes advantage of the now huge conferences ability to provide variety in the conference slate.
Most notably though, it moves the ACC Championship to December, where it belongs. Rather than the champion essentially being decided in September when Clemson plays Florida State, there could potentially be a rematch if they are the clear best teams.
Before you say that's crazy, Commissioner Swofford would never consider such a thing, let me tell you that he has asked the NCAA to allow the ACC to make such a change should the members want it. Here's how it could look:
|Team||Preserved Annual Rival||Preserved Annual Rival|
|Clemson||Georgia Tech||Florida State|
|NC State||North Carolina||Wake Forest|
|Wake Forest||Duke||NC State|
|Duke||Wake Forest||North Carolina|
|North Carolina||NC State||Duke|
|Virginia||Virginia Tech||Georgia Tech|
|Miami||Florida State||Virginia Tech|
So we're now two-thirds through the 2014 season and the conference looks to be headed to a very similar destination as 2013. That is, Florida State headed to a destination even bigger than the Orange Bowl, and if Clemson can finally beat their in-state rival, a return trip to the Orange Bowl.
Would a Clemson vs. Florida State rematch in Charlotte be in the best interest of the conference? It seems obvious that a great championship game would be preferred, but let's dig a bit deeper. If Clemson were to finish 10-2 and knock of the 'Noles in a rematch, Clemson would head to the Orange Bowl and Florida State would hope for an invitation from another of the major six bowl games outside of the playoff. If FSU won the rematch, Clemson would fall below the Orange Bowl to the Russell Athletic Bowl or worse and FSU would head to the CFB Playoff, the same place they're headed without a rematch. So while this restructuring may be both more fair and more interesting, there is a big downside. Increasing the likelihood of the two best ACC teams playing twice which would absolutely be the result of removing divisions, would lead to the best teams in the conference beating up on each other more, thus hurting the conference's chances of landing teams in the College Football Playoff and other major bowl games.
Tell us what you think in the poll and comments below?