Prior to 2020, the ACC was divided into two divisions: Atlantic and Coastal. What was the reasoning behind these divisions? I’m not sure, but it clearly had nothing to do with geography. For example, the Pittsburgh Panthers are in the ACC Coastal, but the Boston College Eagles, Syracuse Orange and Louisville Cardinals are all in the ACC Atlantic. The Florida State Seminoles are in the Atlantic, but their nearest neighbors to the North and South - the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets and the Miami Hurricanes - are both in the Coastal.
Enter the 2020 season, and a hybrid schedule somewhat based on the original schedule, somewhat based on geography - a Frankenstein’s monster of a schedule that fans of several schools (including Pitt) find plenty to complain about. But in that imperfection is the gem of an idea - what if the ACC built a schedule specifically-designed to let each team play its nearest neighbors? Which teams would play each other under than model? Here’s a table of the four closest neighbors for each ACC school (based on Google driving distances):
Four Closest ACC Neighbors
Some of these may be a bit surprising. For example, did you know that the Virginia Cavaliers are one of the Boston College Eagles four closest teams, or that the Duke Blue Devils are just as close to BC as the Virginia Tech Hokies?
There are obviously some conflicts which would need to be resolved in a format like this. For instance, Virginia and Virginia Tech are two of Pitt’s closest neighbors - but neither of those schools have the Panthers in their top four. The situation is even worse for the Louisville Cardinals, who list the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets and the Clemson Tigers among their four closest ACC neighbor schools.
Then there’s the problem of rivalries. Clemson clearly would like to play the Florida State Seminoles every year - it’s a big game for them - but based strictly on geography the Tigers would be facing the Wake Forest Demon Deacons, North Carolina Tar Heels, and Duke Blue Devils instead. Nothing against those teams, but that schedule won’t get Clemson fans exciting to buy season tickets!
On the other hand, the biggest beneficiary of a geographic schedule might be the N. C. State Wolfpack, who would get all three of their fellow North Carolina schools, plus Virginia Tech; currently, they only play Duke and Virginia Tech once every six years.
Perhaps this will give you some ideas and you’ll come up with better divisions based on geography. If so, be sure to leave a comment!