Scott MichauxSports columnist for The Augusta Chronicle. |

Creative thinking would solve SEC and ACC schedule issues

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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.

Under this plan in the SEC, the Georgia team of Mark Richt (left) would be grouped with the South Carolina team of Steve Spurrier (right) and would play each year along with Florida and Kentucky.  FILE/ASSOCIATED PRESS
Under this plan in the SEC, the Georgia team of Mark Richt (left) would be grouped with the South Carolina team of Steve Spurrier (right) and would play each year along with Florida and Kentucky.

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

READ MORE: Being more inclusive with their schedules would help SEC and ACC

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Riverman1 08/24/14 - 05:10 am
The Other Point of View

How does throwing Notre Dame in the mix affect matters in the ACC? Everybody wants to play them. I do love regional rivalries, but TV is the driving force of expansion and why the northern teams with the big markets were added. Those markets want to see their teams playing the Florida States and Clemsons. The dilemma is if you want high TV ratings and the money it brings, you have to have games that have a national flavor. Remember when ESPN helped the ACC decide on the schools to incorporate? Pitt, Syracuse, etc. The ACC decided to take the national, big TV ratings, route set out by ESPN. We'll see how that pans out. JTF, what do you think?

justthefacts 08/24/14 - 06:34 am

This stuff makes my head hurt. Especially this early. Looks like Michaux has given this a ton of thought. It appears to makes sense. I suppose he is saying the Notre Dame game is just an additional "conference game" when it occurs. The whole ND thing is weird. They are in the conference. But, only play a few games (4 in 2014, 6 in 2015, and then 5 in 2016.) They can take a Bowl spot, but can't win the conference title. Is that forever or just first 3 years? ESPN's advice to add Cuse and Pitt was poor advice. Football wise anyway. They are DEAD. The SEC, due to the toughness of the conference, is resistant to a 9-game schedule. Who knows?
Heck, let's just!

deestafford 08/24/14 - 08:37 am
Looks as good as anything..

Looks as good as anything I've seen. It's obvious Scott has been working on this a long time. I bet this is one of those things that is impossible to make everyone happy or even semi-happy. It would be interesting to read opposing views.

Scott Michaux
Scott Michaux 08/24/14 - 01:56 pm
Permanent rivals

I would have no worries swapping to have Ole Miss-Arkansas as permanent rivals and keeping South Carolina-Texas A&M as is now. The broader point of this exercise was to find a way to have EVERYBODY play EVERYBODY ELSE more often. You know, like a real conference.

And you can't imagine how much it made our heads hurt putting this together.

Scott Michaux
Scott Michaux 08/24/14 - 02:11 pm
Notre Dame

As for Notre Dame, I did think about how that would have an impact. It would actually make it quite easy if the ACC would not expand to 16. Just break it up into 3 5-team pods. My suggestion would be: GT, Clemson, FSU, Miami and Louisville in 1; Tobacco Road and UVa in 2; VT, ND, Pitt, BC and Syracuse in 3. The rotate some combination of 5 of the other 10 teams in alternate seasons. The biggest victim in this plan would be the Virginia-Virginia Tech rivalry, but as a Wahoo fan I wouldn't mind not losing to them every year.

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