Jimbo Fisher thinks the ACC is better than SEC? Let's settle it with an SEC/ACC Challenge
The ACC sure is enjoying Clemson’s national championship victory over Alabama.
So much so that another ACC coach said last week that there’s no doubt which league now rules college football.
Jimbo Fisher thinks @theACC is the best conference in college football
Agree or disagree? #ACCKickoff @FSU_Football pic.twitter.com/BIKLYETn3h
— ESPNU (@ESPNU) July 14, 2017
Fortunately, Nick Saban gets a shot to silence Fisher and Florida State in the season opener, but we also have found a way to solve the endless, annual conference debate. Given the success of conference showdowns in basketball, it’s only a matter of time until it makes the way to football. And when it does, what could be a better matchup than the SEC and the ACC?
Four SEC/ACC rivalries already exist, so we’ve got to match up the remaining 10 teams and have a challenge. Here’s a modest proposal of an SEC/ACC Challenge, and where the matchups come from.
First, the ones that exist:
Florida vs. Florida State
Kentucky vs. Louisville
South Carolina vs. Clemson
Georgia vs. Georgia Tech
And now, the new rivalries that we propose:
Alabama vs. Miami
Sure, we’d love to see the Tide play Florida State or maybe Clemson, but they are accounted for. That said, Saban vs. Richt is a good matchup, and while Miami doesn’t quite have Alabama’s historical cache, frankly, who does? In the Frank Beamer years, Virginia Tech might have drawn a mention, but let’s just schedule a rematch of the 1993 Sugar Bowl. Every freaking year.
Auburn vs. Virginia Tech
Both are excellent programs that have grown up in the shadow of the better-known flagship universities of their respective states. Maybe we can get Auburn moved into the SEC East, where the travel involved would make more sense. This is a winner for everyone.
Texas A&M vs. Syracuse
Yes, this is completely random. But hear me out. This game happens, and is played in Dallas and New York City. If A&M and Syracuse aren’t exactly the toast of their leagues, let’s involve two of the biggest cities in America, both of which are epic at hosting football games. You telling me a Dallas/NYC jaunt wouldn’t make a must-catch road trip for each team’s fans?
Ole Miss vs. Virginia
A cool element of classic Southern tradition meets relatively lousy football in this new rivalry. Two patient fan bases who would appreciate the tradition of the other school cause this to make sense. As a plus, Scott Stadium in Charlottesville on a cool fall evening with the changing leaves in the background is one of the prettiest football venues in the South.
Arkansas vs. Pittsburgh
Both are relatively new to their respective conference, don’t fit the geographic footprint especially well, and have proud traditions of football that they are trying to reestablish. As a bonus, in 2017, this would be an absolute shootout. First one to 50 wins, and the losing fans would get some nice barbecue or Primanti Bros. sandwiches.
LSU vs. N.C. State
The Mike Archer divorce bowl? Nah, we won’t name the series for the former LSU head coach/former Wolfpack defensive coordinator. We could call this matchup Tailback U vs. Quarterback U. If the Tigers could nab a Philip Rivers/Russell Wilson type, their seasons would certainly be better. That said, until Matt Dayes ran for 1,166 yards last season, N.C. State hadn’t had a 1,000 yard rusher since 2002. But Dayes is gone, so maybe the rivalry can lead to a grad transfer trade?
Tennessee vs. North Carolina
A Kentucky-UNC basketball/football doubleheader would be awesome, but the Wildcats already have an ACC rival. So let’s play the 2010 Music City Bowl again, with the right number of players on the field! Two neighboring states, and frankly, the trophy for this could be that the victorious state gets a year’s work toward I-40 becoming passable between the two states. They already battle for western North Carolina’s top recruits. Frankly, there’s a ton of talent between these two schools and this would be a good candidate for an immediate rivalry.
Missouri vs. Boston College
Since Missouri is allegedly in the East, let’s send them someplace really East. Neither school has been in their conference that long, and both have long odds on being competitive over time. So let’s have some culture exchange. A bunch of Bah-stan bros arguing about how to say Missouri sounds like the kind of apples we’d all like.
Mississippi State vs. Wake Forest
The Rodney Dangerfield bowl: two schools who just can’t get any respect despite the former rising to No. 1 and the latter beating Florida State four times in six years from 2006-11. Both tough matchups on any given Saturday, both ready to take out some righteous indignation on people who think Oxford or the Triangle are better places for college football. Somebody should warn those guys at Wake Forest about the cowbells. (And Nick Fitzgerald.)
Vanderbilt vs. Duke
The two top-flight academic schools that can’t quite stay right in football seems like a fine matchup. Vandy leads the series 7-4 and the Nashville vs. Durham comparison is even more lopsided. However, Duke coach David Cutcliffe went 5-1 against the Commodores during his stint as Ole Miss’ head coach. Could he keep that magic going?