Tuesday, June 4, 2013
Crossover scheduling hurt by expansion
By Mark Schlabach
Along with the elimination of longtime rivalries like Texas vs. Texas A&M, Missouri vs. Kansas and Notre Dame vs. Michigan, one of the most negative effects of recent conference expansion is the proliferation of permanent crossover opponents in league scheduling.
Crossover scheduling has become a hot-button issue in the SEC (ask LSU's Les Miles), and now the newly expanded ACC has followed suit.
Would you expect anything else but a crossover from a traditional basketball conference?
The ACC on Tuesday announced each school's conference schedule from 2014 through the 2024 season. Under the new format, each ACC team will play all six divisional opponents annually, one permanent crossover team from the opposite division, and one rotating team from the opposite division.
Pittsburgh and Syracuse are joining the ACC for football this coming season, and Louisville joins the league in 2014.
I get it: When you're trying to create equitable and exciting conference schedules for 14 teams, it's never easy and everyone isn't going to be happy.
For the most part, the ACC got it right with the permanent crossover opponents from the Atlantic and Coastal Divisions. Florida State and Miami might never meet in the ACC championship game, but at least they'll play each other every year in the regular season. Clemson and Georgia Tech will continue their thrilling rivalry every season, and so will instate rivals North Carolina and NC State, and Wake Forest and Duke. Former Big East rivals Syracuse and Pittsburgh will play every season, and Boston College and Virginia Tech were paired together. Louisville was matched up with Virginia as a permanent crossover opponent when it joins the league.
For the most part, the ACC kept its longtime rivalries intact and created some new ones.
But here's the worst part of crossover scheduling: ACC teams will play one crossover opponent only once in the regular season over 11 seasons, and each of those meetings occurs in the 2020 season.
Clemson fans better enjoy their trip to Virginia's Scott Stadium on Nov. 2, because the Tigers aren't going back to Charlottesville anytime soon. The Tigers play the Cavs at Death Valley in 2020.
Likewise, FSU opens the coming season at Pittsburgh on Sept. 2 -- the Panthers' first ACC game -- but the Seminoles aren't scheduled to return a second time until 2025 or later. FSU hosts the Panthers at Doak-Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee in 2020.
While Louisville fans might be chomping at the bit to join the ACC in two seasons, they won't get to experience one of the league's most exciting venues -- Virginia Tech's Lane Stadium -- before 2025. The Hokies are scheduled to play at Louisville in 2020, the schools' only meeting in the 11-year window.
What was the ACC's most egregious scheduling flaw? NC State and Duke might be separated by only 24 miles on Tobacco Road, but their football teams might feel like they're located on opposite coasts. The Wolfpack and Blue Devils are scheduled to play only once between 2014 and 2024.
Let's see the ACC try that in basketball.