No More Divisions? Yes, Please! (Part 1)
The Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) is considering removing divisions for college football. The MLB should be on this too.
WHAT IS THE PLAN FOR THE ACC?
When James J. Phillips became the commissioner of the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) in 2021, one of the pivotal marks of his objectives for the position was that he was going to evaluate everything going on and make changes where they were needed. Flash forward from then until two days ago and rumors started to fly around that Phillips was looking to change the structure of college football in the conference by eliminating the two 7-team divisions.
For a little background, under the current system of scheduling for the ACC they have used an "8-1-3" format. The 8 refers to the number games are in-conference games against other ACC teams. The 1 refers to what is called a "challenge game" against a non-conference opponent in a comparable/tougher conference or league. The 3 refers to the "cupcake" games, that the team should win, against non-conference opponents in an easier conference or league. (If you want to learn more about college football scheduling, check out this great article on Bleacher-Report.)
For example, in the 2021 season the Clemson Tigers played 8 teams in the ACC, played their "challenge game" against Georgia (who play in the Southeastern Conference/SEC), and played their 3 "cupcake games" against SC State, UConn, and South Carolina.
In the process of getting rid of divisions, the ACC would also be changing its current system of scheduling play and adopt a "3-5-5" format. This would have no effect on the "challenge" or "cupcake" games; instead setting up a new system of scheduling games within the ACC.
This 3-5-5 format would set up 3 permanent match-ups between schools and a biannual rotation of the remaining 10 schools (5 in year one; 5 in year 2). With a 14 team football conference, this would allow every team to play each other at least twice during a players 4-year college tenure. This does not happen with how schedules are currently made.
If we take the Clemson Tigers regular season football schedule from 2017 through 2022 (a period of 6 seasons, including 2020 where Clemson played 10 games in conference due to the COVID-19 pandemic), we arrive at the following:
As you can see, over the period of 6 years, the Clemson Tigers played a number of the schools in their conference just once or twice, of which also includes a season (2020) where extra games were scheduled in-conference to allow games to be played around the pandemic. (And if that didn't happen, there would have been at least a 6 year gap between Clemson and Virginia playing each other in the regular season!)
Suffice it so say, I think the ACC is on the path to something pretty dang smart here. So much, that I want the MLB to start considering this as well.
It is time to get rid of divisions in the MLB.
(Check back tomorrow at 4:00 PM for my thoughts on how this should be done!)