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Circles of Suck: A 2020 Update

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Everything sucks, everywhere!

The Oklahoman-USA TODAY Sports. Banner Society Illustration.

Tradition is the foundation of college football, but sometimes the slab has some weird spots where the floor doesn’t sit quite right and all the water pools after a big storm. One such delightful imperfection: the ACC Coastal Circle of Suck (sometimes referred to as a Wheel of Destiny).

This concept is not the sole property of the ACC’s Clemson-less division. Any time you can build an ouroboros of football teams beating one another, that’s a Circle of Suck. Thanks to conference-concentrated 2020 schedules, they’re popping up in places we’re not as accustomed to seeing them.

Let’s review where some of the conference suck circles stand at the end of October.

ACC

The ACC has no divisions this season, which means either nobody’s in the Coastal or every team is. Clemson and Notre Dame remain undefeated as of this writing, and Miami’s only loss is to Clemson. I have not been able to build a 12-team circle out of the remaining teams, but I’ve stretched it to 10.

We’ll need an upset or two for this to include every team in the conference, but this is remarkable progress with over a month of games left to play.

Big 12

Only two teams are missing from this Circle of Suck, and it’s not because they’ve been particularly good this year. Kansas is out because they’ve yet to record a victory, and Baylor’s out because the only Big 12 opponent they’ve beaten is Kansas. Everyone else though? Holding hands (or hooves) and getting through the season together!

SEC

Six teams remaining outside of the Most Important and Dominant Circle of Suck: undefeated Alabama, Georgia and Texas A&M (who only lost to the Crimson Tide), Florida (who only lost to the Aggies), and Vanderbilt (who lost to every team they’ve played). We can still make a respectable circle out of most of the remaining teams, though.

NOT YET APPEARING

The Big Ten’s still getting started, but chains like Rutgers > Michigan State > Michigan > Minnesota are likely to prove enormously helpful once we have some further results to mess with. The Mountain West’s also early into things, though their current standings are more stable than the Big Ten because they’re clearly a better-organized and more focused institution.

The Pac-12 begins play this weekend and will have its work cut out for it, since each team’s only playing six conference games, but we’re confident the league will find a way to eat itself even if the portions are small.

Conference USA, the AAC, and the Sun Belt haven’t done much to form their own Circles of Suck. The good teams in those leagues (Marshall, Cincinnati, Coastal Carolina, Appalachian State) haven’t tripped up in conference play, and the bad teams (FIU, USF, Louisiana-Monroe) refuse to score any upsets that could widen the circle.

But there’s a lot of football yet to be played, so I won’t rule out the perfect outcome: one where each conference has its own Circle of Suck that includes every member, and the only teams we can really believe in are BYU and Army.