Here are the winners and losers from the ACC's new scheduling format
The ACC has announced a new scheduling format that will begin with the 2023 season.
The format — which scraps the traditional Atlantic and Coastal division structure — is designed to be more balanced. Every team will have 3 permanent opponents and will face every other ACC program twice in a 4-year cycle.
For reference, here are the permanent opponents for each team:
New permanent opponents for every ACC team 👇 pic.twitter.com/Vuea6QRc9b
— Saturday Road (@SaturdayRoad) June 28, 2022
Despite the intention of balance, some programs made it out of this change better than others. Some of these changes will be mourned by fans in the future — some, not nearly as much.
Here are the winners and losers of the ACC’s new scheduling format.
Winner: Virginia Tech
While losing the Miami rivalry is a tough pill to swallow, this likely will be a good thing longterm for the Hokies.
Brent Pry and his staff are trying to get things going again in Blacksburg, and that should be a whole lot easier without having to deal with the Hurricanes on an annual basis. Playing Miami twice every 4 years should be enough to keep this rivalry alive while also giving Virginia Tech a chance to balance its schedule.
Virginia Tech also won’t see any of the other top ACC powers every season. The Hokies will travel to tier 1 programs like Clemson, Florida State and Miami just once every 4 years.
Loser: The 2026 Florida State Seminoles
Oh boy, this could have gone better for Florida State from a scheduling perspective. The Seminoles are the only program in the ACC who is guaranteed to play a pair of tier 1 programs in conference play every season (Clemson and Miami).
More specifically, it’s the 2026 schedule that will really hurt. For that season, Florida State is scheduled to play Clemson, Miami, Notre Dame, Alabama and Florida. FSU also faces North Carolina, Louisville and NC State — programs that have hardly been walkovers in recent years.
2026 is a long way off, so perhaps Florida State’s program will be in a much stronger place by then. But as it stands today, that season is looking like it could be a potential breaking point.
Winner: Wake Forest
Wake Forest somehow managed to shed 2 major thorns from its schedule with this agreement: Clemson and NC State. Wake has won 4 of the previous 5 matchups with the Wolfpack, but that’s been a troublesome series in the past and could be again in the future.
Wake Forest does have to play Virginia Tech every year, but that’s a more-than-reasonable price to pay for this permanent slate. Duke and Georgia Tech are Wake’s other primary opponents.
This setup is a big boost for the Demon Deacons, who have made major investments into its football program in recent years. They’re coming off arguably their best campaign in program history in 2021 and have quietly made 6 consecutive bowl games.
Loser: Divisional rivalry history
There are several divisional rivalries that die with this change. Losing Virginia Tech-Miami is perhaps the most notable — those teams have played every season since 1992. It’s been an even series, too — both teams are 15-15 over that span going into this year’s matchup in Blacksburg.
With the exception of the 2020 pandemic, North Carolina and Georgia Tech have played every season since 1980.
Again, save for the pandemic-altered 2020 season, Florida State and Wake Forest have met in every season since 1992. The same goes for the Seminoles and NC State.
Losing these matchups that have decades of built-in history is arguably the biggest sacrifice the ACC has made as it turns to this 3-5-5 format.
The Panthers are another big winner because of who is falling off their annual schedule. Pitt will no longer have to face Miami or North Carolina on an annual basis. The Tar Heels won 6 of 8 matchups in that series since they became divisional opponents in 2013.
Pitt will retain Syracuse and Virginia Tech as annual opponents and will add Boston College to that slate.
Pitt-Boston College becoming a permanent matchup is a beautiful, yet unexpected consequence of this arrangement. Of course, Pitt and BC were both mainstays of the old Big East before the Eagles left in 2005.
This move re-establishes an old rivalry that dates back to 1959. Pitt and Boston College played annually in the Big East from 1987-2004, but had faced off just twice since the Panthers joined the ACC in 2013.
The Cavaliers drew one of the short straws in this new ACC setup. Virginia will face Louisville, North Carolina and Virginia Tech on an annual basis. There’s no blue blood in that group, but there aren’t any doormats, either.
With this arrangement, Virginia loses annual meetings with Georgia Tech and Duke. The Cavaliers have won 4 of the last 6 (including 2 straight) vs. Ga. Tech and 7 in a row vs. the Blue Devils.
Overall, that’s a tougher-than-it-used-to-be slate for the Cavaliers as Tony Elliott looks to raise the ceiling on what that program could be.
Winner: The 2016 Louisville Cardinals
Pour one out for Lamar Jackson and the 2016 Cardinals. This conference structure means the 2 best teams in the ACC are guaranteed to meet in the conference title game every season.
That, of course, would have been a great benefit for Louisville in 2016. That Cardinals team went 7-1 in ACC play, but lost the ACC Atlantic tiebreaker to Clemson. Because of the division structure, Clemson played an out-matched Virginia Tech team in the title game.
It’s not a common problem — the top 2 records in the ACC every year are typically the division winners — but this ensures what happened to Louisville will never happen again.
Winner: The players
A cool feature of this setup is that all players will get to compete in each ACC stadium at least once over a 4-year career.
Under the old format, that would not have been the case. A few examples:
- Pitt hasn’t played at Boston College since 2014
- Virginia Tech hasn’t played at Clemson since 2012
- Florida State has played at North Carolina just twice since 2004
There are plenty of other examples of programs rarely visiting other universities within the ACC. Now, that all goes away.
Loser: Coastal Chaos
Coastal chaos dies with 2022. The ACC’s beloved Coastal division was always fun — regardless of what things like “winning percentage” might say at the end of the year.
With Miami and Virginia Tech floundering in recent seasons, the Coastal has provided college football with some of the most parity of any division in the country.
While Clemson and Florida State won 9 ACC Atlantic titles in a row from 2011-19, the Atlantic produced 7 different champions. Every team in the Coastal won that division at least once over that span (yes, even Duke), and every single one of them lost to the Tigers or Seminoles in the ACC Championship Game.
May 2022 give us all one more jolt of chaos.