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NCAA Will Allow Conferences to Scrap Divisions, ACC Likely to Make Changes

Clemson stands to have a more interesting annual slate if the ACC gets rid of their current divisional format.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 07 ACC Championship Game Photo by John Byrum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The NCAA has enforced plenty of strange and antiquated rules over the years and one of them just disappeared. The NCAA had required any conference with 12 or more teams to divide into divisions in order to hold a conference title game. Some Power 5 commissioners including the ACC’s Jim Phillips asked the NCAA to end this regulation, and fortunately, they just did.

The Pac-12 has already announced they’ll be nixing divisions and pairing the conference’s top two teams in the Pac-12 title game. They explain that it “immediately increases both fan interest in, and the media value of, our football championship game.”

The ACC is widely expected to follow suit:

The ACC is considering a 3-5-5 model for football scheduling that would have teams playing three opponents as permanent scheduling partners annually then rotating the other 10 teams over two seasons in the eight-game schedule (five one year, five the next).

Further, there is talk that this could happen as soon as 2023. This is great news for Clemson fans who will be treated to more variety while maintaining their important conference rivalries. So, who should we expect to be our three permanent rivals and who do we want?

Georgia Tech

This one is the most obvious. The two schools are only two hours away and are already cross-division rivals. There’s rich history in the rivalry with Clemson’s famous $2 bill tradition stemming from this matchup. While Georgia Tech would likely prefer an easier schedule, they recently had the ACC adjust their scheduling so they’d host Clemson and Georgia in alternating seasons to make their season ticket package more attractive. Clemson is 34-50-2 all-time in the series, but has won seven in a row.

Florida State

While the Georgia Tech rivalry is somewhat friendly, the Florida State vs. Clemson battle is one that has its fair share of hurt feelings and distain. In March of 2014, Jameis Winston was in Clemson for a baseball series, and infamously tweeted “our house” with a picture Death Valley. Clemson had won five of their last six h,ome games against FSU when he tweeted that, but the most recent one was a brutal 51-14 Seminole victory in which Winston starred. Clemson has won four straight in Death Valley against FSU bringing them to 9-1 in their last 10 home games in the rivalry.

In 2020, Florida State canceled the football game in Tallahassee after learning that Clemson had one positive COVID test. We later learned that the player in question followed all agreed upon protocol for testing and isolation and FSU had some roster shortage issues of their own. QB Trevor Lawrence, RB Darien Rencher, and Coach Dabo Swinney expressed their displeasure at what they perceived to be a dishonest and disrespectful move.

From 2011-2017 this was the marquee matchup in the ACC and it very well could be again soon if Florida State regains footing after several coaching changes and a few ugly seasons. The conference has to ensure this one happens.

Florida State’s most important rival is Miami, but after that it is Clemson so there’s plenty of room for them to include the Tigers as one of their three permanent rivals.

NC State

Clemson and NC State will play for the 90th time in 2022. The Textile Bowl has a long history which Clemson has largely dominated to the tune of 59-29-1 record, but the passion is still there. NC State celebrated with victory cigars after their home win over the Tigers last season and while they still failed to win the division or reach the 10-win mark it will likely be one of the most memorable games for many of their fans. Quite a few NC State fans found my email address to personally express their pleasure at my expense following the game.

The dislike goes both ways. After Coach Dave Doeren accused Coach Swinney’s staff of cheating with a laptop on the sidelines, Swinney allowed his staff this epic troll:

It is possible that NC State would rather have a closer, weaker opponent in Duke to go along-side Wake Forest and North Carolina as permanent rivals. I lean towards that not happening though. NC State currently plays Clemson annually and does not play Duke annually. Meanwhile, for UNC, Virginia may be a bigger rival than Wake Forest. I’d bet on the Textile Bowl over an all-North Carolina rivalry trio.

Should NC State not pair up with Clemson, Virginia Tech, Louisville, or Virginia could be reasonable alternatives, but they don’t fit quite as well.

Example Schedule

If Clemson lands those three permanent rivals, their 2023 and 2024 could look something like this:

2023

ACC Rivals

Georgia Tech

Florida State

NC State

ACC Rotating

Louisville

Boston College

Virginia

Duke

Miami

Non-Conference

Notre Dame

South Carolina

Wofford

Florida Atlantic

2024

ACC Rivals

Georgia Tech

Florida State

NC State

ACC Rotating

Wake Forest

North Carolina

Virginia Tech

Syracuse

Pittsburgh

Non-Conference

Georgia

South Carolina

Appalachian State

Wofford

All that sums up to more of Miami, Virginia Tech, Virginia, North Carolina, Duke, and Pittsburgh and 50% less of Syracuse, Boston College, Wake Forest and Louisville. That’s a great trade from an fan interest standpoint. What do you think? Let us know in the comments section below.