Today’s news in college sports is that the Big 10 and Pac-12 have reached an agreement to have conference foes matchup in football every year beginning in 2017. The arrangement in football will actually lag well behind the other sports, as the conferences hope to have basketball schools play each other next year. The question, of course, is whether the ACC try to find a similar arrangement. The Confidential is skeptical that the ACC will try to reach a similar cooperative plan with any other conference.
Unlike the Big 10 and Pac-12, the ACC does not have a conference that is a natural partner/rival. If the ACC was to try to drum up a similar plan, the Confidential believes that the SEC could work. While not too meaningful from a geographic expansion standpoint, the closeness of the locations of the schools would perhaps make it even more contentious. In fact, there are already several games featuring rivals from the two conferences. And there are often games between schools from the two conferences. So, perhaps the ACC and SEC could consider a scheduling arrangement that builds off of the natural rivalries already being played.
As an example, the ACC and SEC could plan to have games like this in a typical season:
- Florida State: Florida
- Georgia Tech: Georgia
- Clemson: South Carolina
- Duke: Vanderbilt
- North Carolina: Tennessee
- Wake Forest: Mississippi
- North Carolina State: Texas A&M
- Virginia: Arkansas
- Virginia Tech: LSU
- Boston College: Missouri
- Syracuse: Kentucky
- Maryland: Mississippi State
- Miami: Alabama
- Pittsburgh: Auburn
Those would be pretty competitive games. It would also help ensure that the ACC trio of Florida State, Georgia Tech, and Clemson are not at a competitive disadvantage simply because their rivalries force them to play SEC schools. While not everyone in the ACC can play an elite SEC school, a game against Kentucky or Mississippi State is more challenging than a Sun Belt or MAC opponent.
The detriment, of course, is that such agreements erode scheduling flexibility. If you are Boston College, 8 or 9 conference games, plus the annual Notre Dame game and a mandatory SEC game would leave only 1 or 2 openings.
But there is an even greater reason for the ACC to eschew a scheduling arrangement like the Big 10 and Pac-12 have reached. Money. Both the Big 10 and Pac-12 have network agreements that give tangible incentives to expand the geographic scope of the network. For the Big 10, it can expand into a new region–say New Jersey to take Rutgers–and reap the benefits of one new market. Instead, it just gave everyone on the West Coast a reason to want the Big 10 Network. If that’s the only way to see the big USC-Ohio State game, people will add the channel.
In contrast, the ACC and SEC have deals with ESPN that do not confer a direct benefit for expanding the footprint. So, in the end, it is difficult to see the ACC trying to duplicate what the Big 10 and Pac-12 have done. There is just not enough of an incentive to do it. At least right now. Time will tell.
What do you think? Should the ACC try to set-up a scheduling arrangement? If so, with what conference?