A bad decision no matter how you look at it
Were you like me watching Thursday night’s game between the women of Duke soccer and North Carolina? When play-by-play announcer Jenn Hildreth said the matchup between the two rivals was a non-conference game, I scrambled for the remote so I could rewind and make sure of what she said. Once I confirmed what I’d heard, I still could not believe these two rivals were not playing as part of the conference schedule. The ACC needs to do a better job with scheduling.
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I don’t know what scheduling matrix or plan is being used by the ACC to determine conference matchups, but it is a bad one. It makes absolutely no sense for bitter backyard rivals to not play each other. It makes even less sense when you factor the quality of these programs. Over 3,500 fans filled Koskinen Stadium for this game, which was won 3-0 by the Tar Heels. The stadium had atmosphere and the game had intensity. Regardless of the method used by those in the ivory soccer tower at the ACC offices, this type of scheduling decision is a very bad one. Hats off to both of these programs for realizing the importance of the rivalry and scheduling a game to keep it alive.
It’s worse for the men
Duke’s men’s team plays North Carolina, but not N.C. St. Again, this makes no sense. They are almost literally in each other’s backyard, but the conference doesn’t think it is a good idea for them to play every year. What makes matters worse is, while the women play ten conference games, the men play just eight. Why? Wouldn’t you think two extra games against conference opponents would draw more interest than contests against the likes of Yale and George Washington? Both are part of the Blue Devils’ upcoming schedule. There are twelve men’s teams in the conference. Having them play ten conference games would allow for each to play all but one of the other teams. That would make a lot of sense and make for a greater number of compelling matchups. The chaps in that ACC ivory soccer tower seem to excel at bad scheduling decisions.
In college athletics there is nothing like a great rivalry. It doesn’t matter what sport you’re talking about, college rivalries are just special. Because of conference realignment and expansion, we’ve lost so many great rivalries. Those making conference scheduling decisions need to do what they can to keep these rivalries alive. So what if the scheduling method being used does not have the Duke and North Carolina women playing in a given season, make a few adjustments and see to it they meet in conference play and don’t have to agree to a non-conference game. This will benefit the fans, players, conferences, and college athletics in general.