On Friday, UNC-Chapel Hill and Wake Forest are playing in Winston-Salem at BB&T Field. It seems like a normal ACC night game, but this time around, they are playing a nonconference conference game.
If that seems weird, that’s because it is. According to NBC Sports, UNC-Chapel Hill and Wake Forest played each other every year from 1919 to 2004, but since the conference separated them through division this is the fifth time they’ve played in 15 seasons.
As in-state rivals, it makes sense for them to be upset about the schedule. Similarly, NC State plays Duke and Virginia Tech at relatively the same pace. The Pack and the Blue Devils last met in 2013 and the Hokies hosted the Pack in 2015 in their last matchup.
In the case of the Tar Heels and the Deacons, they were scheduled only two times between 2014 and 2024, so the teams scheduled a nonconference home-and-home series in 2019 and 2021.
Previously, I published a commentary about getting rid of ACC divisionsto make a more entertaining and better representative ACC Championship Game. While this is a different argument, it turns into the same suggestion: The divisions in the ACC do not support the most entertaining experience for fans and players.
There is no reason NC State and Duke, or NC State and Virginia Tech have to wait 6-7 years to play each other. With one ACC Coastal division game going to the annual UNC-Chapel Hill game, the other six teams in the coastal rotate the other divisional game.
There is no perfect setup because there will be years that teams find the advantage by not playing Clemson, but a more even rotation is the closest thing to it. The Pack and all ACC schools should rotate an 8-game ACC schedule every year. Then add in the final four nonconference games to finish the 12-game schedule.
On the other side of the ball, it’s not fair to the ACC Atlantic teams to play the Tigers every year. It’s practically an automatic loss for all ACC teams in its current state, so it makes it very difficult for other Atlantic teams to make the ACC final. Without divisions, the two competing in the championship could be current Atlantic division competitors.
More ambitiously, as The News and Observer’s Joe Giglio suggested, get rid of divisions and create a preseason for college football. NC State would play teams like WCU in the preseason, possibly allowing more room for ACC games in the regular season.
Whatever the argument is, ACC divisions, and probably divisions in all conferences, need to change. It’s not fair that NC State plays Clemson every year, and it’s equally unfair the Pack has to wait years to play Duke and Virginia Tech.
The Big 12 doesn’t have divisions and the top two teams play each other in the championship. Hopefully, the ACC will move to that format soon for the entertainment of the conference. Playing the same teams over and over again does not support that entertainment.