The two divisions for ACC football proved to be a joke this season and something must be done soon to change things up and make things competitive.
It was all set come Saturday night for the ACC football world: with Clemson dominating the conference’s title game over Pittsburgh, the Tigers were going to be heading to the College Football Playoff (making the ACC and SEC the only Power Five conferences to go each season) as Clemson became the first team since FSU football (1992-2000) to win four straight ACC crowns.
But, as the Tigers were being amend one of the four teams Sunday afternoon to the playoff system, it was the criticism of the fact that they beat a Panthers team who now has six losses on their resume for the season – the worst record of any team to make it to a Power Five conference title game this season.
For over a decade from the time that the Seminoles joined the ACC football world in the 1992 season until expansion took place starting in 2004, the conference was fighting the battle of being a basketball conference trying to play football – many times, it was considered FSU and the eight dwarfs for the way the Noles would dominate during our dynasty era (two losses in nine years).
Once Virginia Tech joined and won some titles, FSU football got back to being dominant and Clemson became a power program, ACC football was considered by some to maybe even be better than the vaunted SEC when it came to the best conference.
All that went out the window this season with the Tigers being a nearly four touchdown favorite in the title game over a Panthers team that had five losses even before landing in Charlotte.
For several seasons now, the argument has been made that the divisions in ACC football are being lopsided with the Atlantic Division – highlighted by the Seminoles and Tigers – winning the last eight conference crowns with half of those games being decided by 28 points or more.
What is the solution to this problem? Well, the powers that run the conference must finally realize it is time to realign the divisions. Hell, it was time to do so five years ago but now is the time to do it before the conference becomes more of a joke.
Now, we’ve talked about this in the past regarding how to realign – doing it by geography, recent success, a game of rock paper scissors – but the best way to do so would be to go old school and new school.
ACC Football should put the seven original members in one group and the seven expansion members in the other.
First off, it would separate the two teams who have won the last eight championships into different divisions while creating a world where the traditionalist among ACC football nation would get their world while the new fan bases would get theirs.
It would break down as follows:
- Old School: Clemson, Duke, Georgia Tech, North Carolina, N.C. State, Virginia, Wake Forest
- New School: Boston College, Florida State, Louisville, Miami, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Virginia Tech
For the Seminoles, they would essential become de facto members of the old Big East conference, but they wouldn’t have to see the Tigers each regular season as Georgia Tech would more than likely become their cross divisional foe.
If these had been the divisions for the last five seasons since all 14 current ACC football members joined the conference, here’s how the championship games would have looked with as many as three different championship games from what actually took place.
2014 – FSU football vs. Georgia Tech or Clemson (GT beat Clemson head to head)
2015 – Clemson vs. FSU football
2016 – Clemson vs. Louisville
2017 – Clemson vs. Miami
2018 – Clemson vs. Pittsburgh or Syracuse (Pitt beat Syracuse head to head)
Whether the conference does it this way or any other way when it comes to realignment, it needs to happened sooner rather than later before the wheels come off of this thing.