With ugly ACC title game on tap, should league tweak its format?

The Clemson Sports Blog

This July 22, 2012 file photo shows Atlantic Coast Conference commissioner John Swofford speaking to the media during the conference's college football kickoff news conference in Greensboro, N.C. Notre Dame is leaving the Big East for the Atlantic Coast Conference in all sports but football.The ACC said Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2012, the school will play five football games annually against the league's programs, but will be a full member in all other sports. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton, File)

This July 22, 2012 file photo shows Atlantic Coast Conference commissioner John Swofford speaking to the media during the conference's college football kickoff news conference in Greensboro, N.C. Notre Dame is leaving the Big East for the Atlantic Coast Conference in all sports but football.The ACC said Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2012, the school will play five football games annually against the league's programs, but will be a full member in all other sports. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton, File)

— – A quick check of Stubhub.com Monday morning revealed a less-than-stellar market for tickets to Saturday’s ACC Championship clash between Florida State and Georgia Tech.

If you’re willing to sit in Bank of America Stadium’s upper deck Saturday night, you won’t exactly have to break into your 401K. Tickets to see the Seminoles and Yellow Jackets clash are going for as low as $4, plus handling charges.

For less than the price of a medium one-topping pizza from Domino’s, you and a friend are in the door for the ACC’s biggest football showcase.

There are reasons for this: the ACC’s overall mediocrity, coupled with bowl bans that kept more worthy Coastal Division representatives like Miami and North Carolina at home.

This fall, the ACC finally had a shot at matching up rivals Florida State and Miami in its ACC title game, as many had hoped when the league expanded to 12 teams and a two-division format in 2005.

That the Hurricanes would remove themselves from contention voluntarily sums up the depths of the league’s football despair.

There’s nothing that can be done to avoid what will likely be a less-than-lively environment Saturday night, but it isn’t too late to make changes that will improve the ACC title game in the future.

Maryland’s surprising departure to the Big 10 – and the resulting addition of one or more new members – Louisville? UConn? Cincinnati? - provides the perfect opportunity to realign the league’s two divisions in a way that will enhance the league’s football fortunes.

Why not move Clemson or Florida State from the Atlantic to the Coastal Division?

Both programs have shown a serious commitment to football – in terms of recruiting, facilities and coaching compensation – that other league programs simply haven’t displayed.

The teams’ meeting in September was, for all intents and purposes, the ACC title game – the league’s first in-season top-10 matchup since 2007.

It was nationally-televised by ABC in prime time, and quite frankly, Florida State’s 49-37 win was fun to watch. Both teams made big offensive plays, and anyone who tuned in was surely entertained.

Contrast that with the scene in Charlotte this week: a Florida State team coming off a loss to rival Florida against a 6-6 Georgia Tech team trying to recover from a 42-10 mashing at rival Georgia’s hands.

The Yellow Jackets have already applied for an NCAA waiver that, should they lose, would allow them to go to a bowl game with a sub-.500 6-7 record.

I can hear the ratings for the Big 10 title game between Nebraska and Wisconsin – this game’s main timeslot competition – rising as I type.

I’m well aware that both Clemson and Florida State lost to SEC teams, but surely there’d be more anticipation among the respective fan bases – a shot at redemption, if you will – if those two were facing off in The Vault Saturday night.

Why not give them the shot to do it every year?

If you trade Miami to the Atlantic, the Hurricanes still get to play Florida State every year, and Clemson can keep a yearly rivalry with Florida State as its crossover foe while adding Virginia Tech as an intriguing division foil.

Clemson scribes will be upset about losing biannual trips to Boston College, but it’s smarter for the league as a whole. You lose the “rivalry” with N.C. State, but I’m not sure anyone is even aware that’s a rivalry at this point.

Or if you’re not interested in realignment, perhaps John Swofford could insert a “best interests of the league” clause into football title game eligibility. If a division rep isn’t ranked in the BCS top 25 or has two fewer ACC wins than the second-place team in the other division, the second-place team goes to the title game.

To stay relevant on college football’s changing landscape, the ACC has to be bold. And these ideas would certainly apply.

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Comments » 14

TigerFan95 writes:

The ACC should scrap the division format all together and go back to a rotating schedule among all the teams. The two teams with the best conference records at the end of the season would play each other in the title game. Of course all 13 teams couldn’t play each other every year so a fair tiebreaking system would be needed, but that shouldn’t be a problem. Another idea would be to schedule one less ACC game for the teams with ND on their schedule and have that game count as a conference game in the standings. In other words teams that play ND would have only 7 conference games and the teams that don’t would have 8.

michtiger writes:

Better idea. Clemson get out of the ACC so we can develop some big game experience.

TUN writes:

Why doesn't the ACC simply take the two teams with the best records and have them play every year for the ACC championship? That way you would be guaranteed of getting the two best teams every year.

Bleedsorange writes:

Because there's to many teams for everyone to pay each other and some one would whine about t their schedule being too hard. Yes Paul Johnson I'm talking about you, you smug piece of.......

TigerNE writes:

In a way the two conference divisions are balanced, aren't they? I've always considered there to be at best 4 teams with the best chances at recruiting (players and coaches) for routinely strong teams. FSU, Miami, CU, and VT. Those 4 are evenly split now. Perhaps Swofford just needs a short term rule to get the Coastal over the Miami hump. What, maybe 1 or 2 more years at most under water/punishment??

Has it been determined yet where Pitt and 'Cuse will fall? Even though I have high hopes for Pitt as a program on the rise, it is impossible to guess how they will change any balance, if much at all.

TUN writes:

in response to Bleedsorange:

Because there's to many teams for everyone to pay each other and some one would whine about t their schedule being too hard. Yes Paul Johnson I'm talking about you, you smug piece of.......

Yes, I know that but the reality is even with two divisions such as you have in the SEC you can and do still end up with teams with unequal schedules. Just compare UGAs schedule with South Carolina's. There is no comparison. South Carolina's was much tougher. UGA by comparison has had it relatively easy. In other words, even on the divisional breakdown you have inequality. It can't be completely avoided so why not work out some kind of equitable rotation and go with the two teams with the best record every year. The two best teams (as is the case this year with CU and FSU) will ordinarily take care of business and you will have a game that everyone will look forward to.

BigBud52 writes:

After watching this past weekends head to head matchups with ACC teams and SEC teams, I think the arguement is moot. The ACC Championship game will be a battle to see who is the tallest midget. The whole conference has to get better not just our Tigers.

TRUETIGER1 writes:

LEAVE THIS PATHETIC CONFERENCE ASAP!!!!!! Swofford cannot manage a lemonade stand. I repeat GET OUT! Leave and fire anyone that doesn't agree with the decision. Move the #### on.

Lynx26 writes:

All of this petty kid crying... Stop it!

Stay here in the ACC... Win EVERY GAME year in and year out..... then decide to move because of DOMINANCE! Don't just pack up and leave to another conference to be avg-above avg.

Wanting change because the conference is weak huh.... That means we should BOISE STATE/ TCU the ACC yearly.

Sit tight... shut up and lets go 12-0 and hope for a title shot multiple years. Then see how weak it is. People are pathetic to me. smh.

brookesdad729 writes:

I know a lot of people are now talking about getting out of the conference, but I have been on that bandwagon for years about getting out of the ACC but I don't like Swofford. He just wants this to be a basketball power conference even though most revenue comes from football. The Tobacco Road Crew gets on my nerves!

cuGIZ82 writes:

Not many people were complaining of a weak conference when CU were only winning 7-8 games a season. Now we have back-to-back 10 wins seasons and now the conference is "soft." It has been soft for years and FSU was the only team of national prominence prior to Va Tech and Miami joining. The ACC will be fine once Miami and Va Tech begins to win, seemingly at the expense of CU.

I would not leave the ACC for any other conference unless the SEC came calling. Hey, they play good football every Saturday and you never really know which SEC team will win on any given Saturday when they are matched up against one another.

ironpmpr35#285397 writes:

Is it just me or does anybody agree that Clemson should get out of the weak ACC and try to go to the SEC.The ACC is pitiful in football and your only as good as your competition.Clemson may struggle a while but eventually i think it will make our football team stronger and tougher!

ironpmpr35#285397 writes:

in response to TRUETIGER1:

LEAVE THIS PATHETIC CONFERENCE ASAP!!!!!! Swofford cannot manage a lemonade stand. I repeat GET OUT! Leave and fire anyone that doesn't agree with the decision. Move the #### on.

I agree wholeheartlt True Tiger,get out of the weak ACC.Its nothing but a basketball conference now anyway!

ironpmpr35#285397 writes:

in response to michtiger:

Better idea. Clemson get out of the ACC so we can develop some big game experience.

Totally agree!

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