Virginia Tech’s home football schedule in 2013 was supposed to include North Carolina, Miami, Maryland, Boston College and Pittsburgh. At least one of those games will not be played at Lane Stadium.
That’s but a small piece of the scheduling puzzle confronting the ACC, particularly associate commissioner Michael Kelly, as Pitt and Syracuse arrive next year, bringing conference membership to 14 schools.
Indeed, past expansions teach us to expect myriad irregularities. Such as:
After joining the ACC in 1992, Florida State hosted Virginia in 1993 and ’94. Conversely, the Seminoles played at Maryland in each of those seasons. Meanwhile, Virginia had home games against North Carolina in back-to-back years.
In 2005 and ’06, the ACC’s inaugural seasons with 12 members and two divisions, Virginia Tech hosted Georgia Tech both years. Similarly, Wake Forest traveled to Florida State, North Carolina to Miami, and Clemson to Wake Forest in those same seasons.
Neither of those lists is complete, but you get the idea.
With the additions of the Big East’s Syracuse and Pitt, and the expansion of the league schedule from eight to nine games, the ACC now must scrap the current rotation of interdivisional matchups.
So other than permanent crossover partner Boston College, there’s no telling which Atlantic Division teams Virginia Tech will play next season and beyond. Same holds for Virginia. Other than Maryland, the Cavaliers’ future Atlantic opponents are unknown.
ACC officials approved a new, six-year schedule format in February. Teams play their six division rivals, plus crossover partner, annually. You also face two of the other six schools in the opposite division on a rotating basis, once home and once away, over the six years.
Atlantic Division teams play five home and four road ACC games in 2013, ’15 and ’17. The Coastal Division gets five home and four road in 2014, ’16 and ’18.
Hence the issue with Virginia Tech, which prior to ACC expansion scheduled a home-and-home non-conference series with former Big East colleague Pitt for 2012 and ’13. The Hokies visit the Panthers in September, and the return game was set for next year in Blacksburg.
Now, maybe not. Pitt is joining Virginia Tech in the Coastal Division, so the teams will meet in 2013. But Coastal schools play only four home league games in 2013, and the Hokies were also supposed to host division rivals North Carolina and Miami, crossover partner Boston College and rotating opponent Maryland.
So at least one of those games must be moved. Or, depending on the new rotation, perhaps the Hokies won’t play the Terps in 2013.
According to the old rotation, here, aside from their crossover partners, are the Atlantic teams Virginia and Virginia Tech were supposed to play from 2013-15.
2013: Florida State away, Maryland home.
2014: Maryland away, North Carolina State home.
2015: N.C. State away, Wake Forest home.
2013: Wake Forest away, Clemson home.
2014: Clemson away, Boston College home.
2015: Boston College away, Florida State home.
None of those games is assured in the new world order.
The easy part of this was the schools approving the new schedule format. Now comes the difficult task of finalizing a rotation that a majority will accept, even if reluctantly.
For example, Virginia Tech would prefer to avoid a repeat of this season, when its rotation opponents are Atlantic heavyweights Florida State and Clemson. North Carolina State wasn’t thrilled with a 2010 schedule that included Coastal powers Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech.
Making Kelly’s challenge more daunting: There’s no model to mimic, no other 14-team conference playing nine league games with equitable home-and-away distribution. The Southeastern Conference debuts at 14 schools this season but is playing eight league contests.
Aided by various computer programs, including one used by the NFL, Kelly is crafting the 2013-18 schedules. His goal is to have a plan ready for the ACC’s fall meetings in Boston.
I don’t envy him.
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