Sunday, September 18, 2011

HOW TO: SCHEDULE A SUPERCONFERENCE

At Least the Logo is Easy to Fix This Time
Ah, conference expansion actually happening. This is fun - more fun than watching our football team, anyway. With the news that Pitt and Syracuse are officially on their way to the ACC (one of those schools ending an eight year dance, the other a new addition to strengthen the basketball even more), we can actually start talking practicalities.

I know the obvious conclusion here is to start shuffling the now 14-team league into two even divisions and start figuring out how you build an eight (or nine) game conference schedule into a 12 game season, while jockeying for a conference championship. Have fun with this one - I think it's just useless exercise; the inevitability of the "Superconference" of 16-teams is pretty clear at this point. It's also a heckuva lot more fun to consider.

2014 is the magic date. In addition to aligning quite nicely with the 27-month waiting period that Syracuse and Pitt will follow before bolting, it's also incredibly important to note that the 2014 regular season will be the first in which the BCS re-applies metrics to determine which conferences get the automatic bids. By that point, teams 15 and 16 will likely be identified, and the ACC will have to figure out how to handle the 12+ACCCG schedule.

The ACC has a chance to do something impressive with 16 teams, leaning on the NFL as a guide...but making a conference playoff, allowing non-conference flexibility and maintaining the value of the regular season while it is at it. The key is in a divisional model of four teams and capsuled schedules. Here's how it'd work:

North: BC, Pitt, Cuse, Maryland
Central: Virginia, Virginia Tech, UNC, Duke
Mideast: Wake, NC State, Team 15, Team 16
South: Clemson, Georgia Tech, Florida State, Miami

Now, how to build out the capsule:
  • You play everyone in your division and every school from a second division. That's seven games, and in a three year capsule, that gives you every team in the conference. 
  • Each team then adds an eighth conference game with either a primary or secondary rival - in the result you play your primary rivals division in the capsule, you pick up the secondary to fill in that slot. 
  • Each team is allotted three OOC slots and one bye week to work into the schedule - the weekend after Thanksgiving (week 13) would be a non-conference game weekend specifically for things like Florida State-Florida; Clemson-USCe; Pitt-WVU; BC-UMass (<---that's going to happen, just deal with it).
Which leaves us with one game left to schedule...and the big idea...Week 12 (the second to last game of the season) would be reserved for a "Flex" opponent. Ultimately, this Showdown week is the first week of a two-leg ACC playoffs. The winners of each division would be ranked, and then matched up at home stadiums in a final four. In that ninth conference game, not only would the division winners be matched - so would every one else in their division with the respective-placed team, filling out every one's schedule. While the winners of the final four games would face each other in a neutral site location two weeks later, this would find a way to not add a week to the schedule to make it happen.

Let's map that out with a real life scenario:

In 2014, BC has USC at home, Army at Yankee Stadium, UNH at home and what had been a non-conference game with Syracuse. Labor Day weekend that year is exceptionally early, so the season wouldn't get going until the weekend after the holiday. With dates already determined for some of those games, we can start drawing stuff in, and I'll take the liberty of giving BC the bye date the week before Yankee Stadium. The pain of UNH over Thanksgiving is not intentional, just the fault of not having UMass in existence yet.

Week 1: 
Week 2: vs. USC
Week 3: 
Week 4: 
Week 5:
Week 6:
Week 7:
Week 8:
Week 9: BYE
Week 10: @ Army (Yankee Stadium)
Week 11:  
Week 12: SHOWDOWN WEEK
Week 13: vs. UNH
Week 14: ACCCG

We need to fill in games against division opponents, so let's try that:

Week 1: @ Syracuse
Week 2: vs. USC
Week 3: 
Week 4: 
Week 5:
Week 6:
Week 7:
Week 8: @ Pitt
Week 9: BYE
Week 10: @ Army (Yankee Stadium)
Week 11: vs. Maryland 
Week 12: SHOWDOWN WEEK
Week 13: vs. UNH
Week 14: ACCCG

Next, an alternating division, so let's try that - intentionally with a conflict on BC's primary rival, Virginia Tech.

Week 1: @ Syracuse
Week 2: vs. USC
Week 3: @ UVA
Week 4: vs. Duke
Week 5: 
Week 6: vs. UNC
Week 7: @ Virginia Tech
Week 8: @ Pitt
Week 9: BYE
Week 10: @ Army (Yankee Stadium)
Week 11: vs. Maryland 
Week 12: SHOWDOWN WEEK
Week 13: vs. UNH
Week 14: ACCCG

Finally, we need to slot the secondary rival into the situation. Let's go with Clemson, and a home game for the Eagles since they went two away-one home with the division.

Week 1: @ Syracuse
Week 2: vs. USC
Week 3: @ UVA
Week 4: vs. Duke
Week 5: vs. Clemson
Week 6: vs. UNC
Week 7: @ Virginia Tech
Week 8: @ Pitt
Week 9: BYE
Week 10: @ Army (Yankee Stadium)
Week 11: vs. Maryland 
Week 12: SHOWDOWN WEEK
Week 13: vs. UNH
Week 14: ACCCG

Let's say BC still sucks in 2014, and after ten games is looking at a 5-5 record, 4-4 in conference to finish third in the division ahead of Syracuse. Maryland, winning the division at 8-2, 7-1, gets the two seed and matches up with number three Florida State. The entire South Division would match up - so BC gets a field trip to Georgia Tech for its week 12 match. Rematches would be allowed in the Showdown week, so BC could have seen Clemson a second time that season. 

The ACCCG would pit the winner of the 2-3 (Maryland/Florida State) against the winner of the 1-4 (Virginia Tech/Wake Forest) in a neutral site in Week 14. 

This is all feasible, it really is - teams would either have six or seven home games (depending on Showdown Week), and smart ADs could easily plan out how to face that potential of hosting a game. I thought about putting a flex bye week/non-conference opponent in Week 11, giving operations an extra week to plan home games as needed. Could be a good solution for certain schools that have neighbors that hate them.

I'll make jokes about who teams 15 and 16 are, but until then, this model still works. Sure, you may have to invent some rivalries (although ensuring that team 15 always plays Florida State isn't a bad idea), but I think this is a pretty airtight solution.

4 comments:

  1. Despite your (and others) aversion to the idea, I think a more likely scenario is that Rutgers and UConn come in. They fit the profile academically and geographically (something KU/KSU do not). Additionally, the pods would make a lot of sense:

    NORTH: BC, UConn, Syracuse, Pitt
    ATLANTIC: Rutgers, Maryland, VT, UVA
    COASTAL: UNC, Duke, NCST, Wake
    SOUTH: FSU, Miami, Clemson, GT

    Then, I believe the way games will be split up in a 3-2-2-2-3 scenario. 3 games against in-pod teams. 2 games against each other pod. 3 OOC games. So, taking your 2014 schedule as a jumping off point, BC's schedule would look something like this: (Pitt, UConn, Syracuse, Maryland, VT, Wake, NCST, Miami, Clemson, Army, UNH, USC). With Labor Day 2014 falling on Monday the 1st of September, kickoff would probably be on Saturday the 6th. Counting the weekends from September 6th until December 6th, there are 14 weekends. Including the ACCCG, there are 13 games in a schedule. You can either leave one week for a BYE week, or you can play straight through and have the last weekend of November be a Semi-Final game (North v. Atlantic)(Coastal v. South), and then the first weekend of December be the ACCCG.

    Just my $0.02

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  2. This blog does not - nor will it ever - endorse UConn to the ACC. Unless UConn sues itself.

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  3. Additionally, Rutgers (wants to be Penn State) and will wait like a bride left at the alter til the B1G never calls.

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  4. Understandable on all accounts, but the ACC does not hold the same grudge against UConn that BC would. The ACC is looking for an expanded footprint and schools that at least fit somewhat into their academic standard. Rutgers and UConn fit that build better than any other teams we could pull in (ie. KU/KSU). Personally, I would love to see a school like Vanderbilt join the ACC. They are competitive enough in sports and are a great school academically, but there is no way in hell they would leave the SEC. Of all the options of schools to add for the 15th and 16th slot, UConn and Rutgers make the most sense. Take away personal biases and look at this from a strictly business point of view. Rutgers is without a doubt looking into the B1G, but who knows whether they go or not. I think B1G adds Mizzou first, and then tries to pry ND once the Big East falls apart. I think ND's hand will be forced, because once the Big East falls apart, there will be no conference to take on ND's olympic sports. None of these major conferences will allow ND to remain an independent in football while taking on the rest of their sports. the B1G will make the most sense in terms of rivalries, and so ND will end up there. so Mizzou and ND to the B1G. I think KU and KSU will end up in the SEC along with Texas A&M and eventually WVU. The question becomes, who are the other two programs who fill out the B1G? Cincy? Louisville? Basically, there aren't enough MAJOR programs to fill up 4 16-team superconferences, so ONE conference will have to lessen its standards. Don't count on the ACC being that conference (at least not academically), so KU and KSU will never be in the ACC. Texas would be a welcome addition in terms of sports and academics, but they are most assuredly going to the PAC16 with TTU, OU, and OSU.

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