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Geographic Pods for 2020 ACC Football?

David Teel reports that the ACC is considering three pods of five teams for 2020 ACC play.

Florida State v Florida Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Reports coming from David Teel at the Richmond Times-Dispatch indicate that the ACC is looking at a unique twist to help ACC football happen in the Fall and do it while preserving key SEC rivalry games.

“One proposal league athletic directors are considering is dividing the ACC’s 15 schools — traditional football independent and partial conference member Notre Dame would be included — into three geographic pods of five. Teams would play each pod rival twice, accounting for eight games.

The aim then would be, in concert with the Southeastern Conference, to add a ninth, and hopefully 10th, contest for each school, preserving the four annual ACC-SEC in-state rivalries: Clemson-South Carolina, Florida State-Florida, Georgia Tech-Georgia and Louisville-Kentucky.”

The pods idea is one that has been kicked around online for a while and it’s a good one. The unique twist here is Notre Dame is added to make it three pods of five and rather than playing several designated games outside of the pod there would be home-and-home contests against the teams in the pod. While playing the same team twice sounds terrible, retaining the game against U of SC and adding another (perhaps Georgia or Florida) makes up for it.

Moving forward with a plan like this would reduce travel for players, slash travel costs for teams, and preserve SEC rivalries. If it is the difference between football in the Fall and Clemson fans never watching Trevor Lawrence and Travis Etienne in a Clemson uniform again, it’s hard to object. It’s great to hear the ACC and SEC are thinking creatively rather than simply going to a conference only schedule as was announced very early by the Big Ten.

From purely a Clemson standpoint, there’s a big risk with strength of schedule. If neither Notre Dame nor Louisville are in Clemson’s pod, the Tigers lose their only two quality opponents. Florida State, Miami, and Georgia Tech would almost certainly be in Clemson’s pod, but the 5th team is the kicker. Virginia Tech may make the most sense and would give Clemson a worthwhile team to face (twice). One would image the four North Carolina schools would be in a pod together along with Virginia.

A: Clemson / FSU / Miami / Georgia Tech / Virginia Tech

B: Notre Dame / Louisville / Syracuse / Pittsburgh / Boston College

C: UNC / NC State / Wake Forest / Duke / Virginia

A potential Clemson schedule with this pod configuration could be:

Home Games:

  • FSU
  • Miami
  • Georgia Tech
  • Virginia Tech
  • U of SC

Road Games:

  • FSU
  • Miami
  • Georgia Tech
  • Virginia Tech
  • Tennessee

Since Georgia already has Virginia and Georgia Tech scheduled (and plays Clemson next season), and Florida already has FSU scheduled and would likely add Miami, Clemson vs. Tennessee (who loses a scheduled game against Oklahoma) may make the most sense. Of course, Georgia and Virginia could always cancel their game to give us the best possible matchup - Clemson at UGA.

The other question this model raises is what happens to the ACC Championship game? Of course, this contest isn’t absolutely necessary. The Big 12 went several years without one. Naming a champion after teams only play four other ACC teams (and for the four ACC schools in the pod with Notre Dame it would be just three ACC opponents) seems troublesome. Perhaps this finally breaks the NCAA’s archaic rule requiring more traditional divisions to hold a conference title game.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments below.