Jul 20, 2014; Greensboro, NC, USA; ACC football commissioner John Swofford addresses the media during the ACC Kickoff at the Grandover Resort. Mandatory Credit: Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

With Power Five Autonomy, the ACC Should Push to End Division Requirements

Now that the Power Five conferences have been granted autonomy from the NCAA, it’s unclear where the ACC and the other major conferences might go from here. Certainly they will move fast to enact certain changes, like scholarship modifications, but the full scope of the impact that Power Five autonomy could have won’t be obvious until they start voting on new rules.

One thing that the ACC should push for is an end to the requirement that conferences have divisions in order to play a championship game.

In the next 10 years, Clemson will play most Coastal division teams twice. But Virginia Tech and Virginia? Just once a piece.

It’s absurd that two ACC teams in separate divisions might only play once a decade. Scrapping the divisions seems like the best way to fix the problem.

How much more interesting could Clemson’s conference schedule be if they could drop Wake Forest for Virginia Tech? How much better off would Clemson’s recruiting be if they played in Miami more than once every ten or so years?

The ACC should protect certain rivalries, of course, but making all but two or three conference games interchangeable would be a significant improvement. Not only would it be good for Clemson, it would be good for the entire league.

“In the next 10 years, Clemson will play most Coastal division teams twice. But Virginia Tech and Virginia? Just once a piece.”

NC State should be playing Duke regularly, particularly now that David Cutcliffe has dragged the Blue Devils out of the ACC basement. Syracuse could reignite their old Big East rivalries with Virginia Tech and Miami. And speaking of the ‘Canes, I can’t even imagine how anxious they are to get another crack at Louisville in a few weeks, after the drubbing the Cards gave them in the Russell Athletic Bowl last season. But if Miami gets crushed again, they won’t get a shot at redemption until 2019.

There are other scheduling issues that may be debated as well, like the possibility of Power Five teams electing to exclude non-Power-Five teams from their schedules, but the benefits of a move like that would be questionable. And of course, that is something that could still be enacted regardless of how in-conference scheduling is handled.

It’s not a sure thing that the NCAA would even allow this to happen. It isn’t explicitly forbidden but, as far as I can tell, the NCAA hasn’t said that it would be acceptable, either. But if it is a possibility, the ACC should lead the charge on changing this rule. Scrapping the divisions would offer the league significant benefits and few downsides.

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