If the 14-team Southeastern and Atlantic Coast conferences would scrap the two-division system, they could maintain essential rivalries while establishing more frequent competition within the conferences.
With a little creative thinking, teams could be arranged to each play a group of the same four teams each year. This would include three regional rivalries annually, plus one permanent, traditional rival.
If they expand the conference schedule to nine games, each school would have five games annually to rotate among the nine other teams. They could either play home-and-home in consecutive years or stagger the seasons so that each program would play every school at least every other year.
Establishing each school’s group of opponents is simple. In the SEC, Georgia, South Carolina, Florida and Kentucky stick together, while you pair up Alabama and Auburn with Tennessee and Vanderbilt.
In the ACC, the southern wing of Clemson, Georgia Tech, Florida State and Miami are a perfect union. On the northern end, group conference newcomers Syracuse, Pitt, Louisville and Boston College.
That leaves six teams in each conference. The trick is to divide them regionally into groups of three, each team playing the other two plus one from the opposite trio.
In the SEC, Louisiana State, Ole Miss and Mississippi State would be aligned together in one base. Arkansas, Missouri and Texas A&M form the other base. The cross-pairings would be LSU-Texas A&M, Ole Miss-Missouri and Mississippi State-Arkansas.
The ACC is even more simple with the four North Carolina and two Virginia teams that preserve long-standing unions on Tobacco Road and the essential rivalries that trace back to the beginning of college football in the South.
North Carolina, Duke and Virginia make up one, and N.C. State, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest the other. The cross-over pairings are UNC-N.C. State, Duke-Wake Forest and Virginia-Virginia Tech.
At the end of the year, the two teams with the best records play for the championship.
This would require a tweak of the current NCAA bylaws covering divisions and championship games, but the new autonomy for the “Power 5” conferences makes that a simple matter to legislate.
INTERACTIVE: Proposed ACC, SEC Schedules