Caulton Tudor

ACC to mull 9-game conference football schedules

Posted April 25, 2014

Florida State Seminoles linebacker Telvin Smith (22) celebrates. Florida State and Duke University face each other in the ACC Football Championship on December 7, 2013 at Bank of America Stadium. Duke could not keep pace with Florida State's offense falling by a score of 45 to 7. Photo by CHRIS BAIRD

Much of the agenda during next month’s ACC spring meetings at Amelia Island (Fla.) will dwell on future scheduling formats in basketball and football.

The league went from 16-game conference basketball schedules to 18 games in 2012-13, and any sort of push for 20 or more conference games would be met by serious opposition from the coaches.

That’s not to say it’s eventually out of the question. The coaches, after all, don’t have to balance the athletic department budgets.

On the football front, however, the 15 head coaches might be more likely to favor an increase from the current 8-game league schedules.

Nine games have been proposed as a possibility. During an ACC football coaches teleconference Wednesday, Miami’s Al Golden even openly campaigned for a more expansive league schedule, which could possibly coincide with a move to do away with the current divisional format.

“I’m in favor. It would help balance schedules,” Golden said.

Clemson’s Dabo Swinney historically has been a proponent of the 8-game arrangement but also seems to be getting more flexible.

“The one thing that I really wish that was different was when a young man comes to Clemson, it would be great for him to be able to play every team in the league at some point over his career,” Swinney said. “With the setup that we have right now, that's just not the case. I don't think we play Virginia again until maybe 2020 or something like that, and I don't think we go back up there until maybe '23 or '25.”

One problem with going to nine and stopping there would be the fact that some teams would have five home league games while some others would be limited to four every other season. But since there’s little chance the coaches and athletic directors would favor 10-game league schedules for now, the 5-4 home/away equation could be unavoidable.

If the 9-game format does come about, it could signal the end of divisional play and the way in which the league championship game would be determined.

In a no-division, 15-team lineup, the top two finishers or the two highest-ranked teams would play in the title game and possibly for any sort of automatic playoff bid.

“It’ll be an interesting time (at the spring meetings),” Duke’s David Cutcliffe said. “There are a lot of things involving NCAA legislation … and things involving the conference. There's going to be a lot of discussions we're going to have with the ADs .”

ESPN, which is playing about $3.7 billion for ACC telecast rights through 2027, will have its share of input as well.

The possibility of adding an extra conference game each season might be more attractive than, say, the league’s Sept. 6 menu this season:

S.C. State at Clemson
Duke at Troy
The Citadel at Florida State
Georgia Tech at Tulane
Murray State at Louisville
Florida A&M at Miami
San Diego State at North Carolina
Old Dominion at N.C. State
Richmond at Virginia
Gardner-Webb at Wake Forest

The only seemingly sexy ACC game on the entire slate will be Virginia Tech’s trip to Ohio State, which will be the ESPN 8 p.m. national feature.

And if the Sept. 6 schedule doesn’t come across as very interesting TV fare, it may not be must-see entertainment for paying customers at the stadium gates.

Both factor into the financial bottom line, which the athletic directors and campus presidents read daily.

15 Comments

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  • jmcdow2792 Apr 26, 2014

    I agree with Tudor, if the 9 games come about, the divisions will need to be done away with and simply the best two teams will play for the championship. That will answer the questions about division placement. But it will bring on it's own set of questions. It will be really easy for two second place teams to have the same record or even three teams tied at the top. Then what? Sure would be a bummer to lose out on conference championship game based on points scored in a single game. It would make an undefeated season more difficult and give an advantage to conferences that don't go to nine games. As I stated earlier, there are lot's of issues with this and it needs to be looked at carefully.

  • 903 Free Paul Frampton 2 Apr 25, 2014

    View quoted thread


    If they didn't schedule cupcakes, they wouldn't be able to get 7 home games every year. 7 home games gets them more revenue than 6 home games...

  • Jeanne Gunn Apr 25, 2014
    user avatar

    View quoted thread


    I hear ya about the realignment, but schools have good years and bad years (unless you're FSU, who is pretty much very good every year), and what is balanced one year, will not necessarily be balanced next year. I don't think it's feasible to keep the divisions perfectly balanced. I do agree, however, that the Atlantic is the tougher division.

  • cjw6105 Apr 25, 2014

    What ACC officials SHOULD be mulling over isn't so much a 9-game ACC schedule but a re-alignment of the two divisions. Yes, an extra conference game might get State and Duke back together on the field twice every ten years instead of once every ten years. But a re-alignment into the Big Four, Clemson, GT and FSU one one side and the rest of the teams on the other would assure fans of getting the rivalries they want EVERY YEAR, not EVERY DECADE. It also makes sense from a geographical standpoint.

    I don't care for the 3 or 4 cupcake OOC games every year either, but I'd rather, as a Wolfpack season-ticket holder, see Duke and GT return to our schedule every season, regardless of the OOC games.

  • ncouterbanks69 Apr 25, 2014

    View quoted thread


    NC Schools do not seem to care but others do enjoy having 2 or more non-cupcake teams scheduled each year. Including this year for example Clemson will have played 2 SEC teams each year the last 6. A 9 game ACC schedule would probably end that which would be a bad idea for football.

  • Ken D. Apr 25, 2014

    View quoted thread


    Let me be sure I got this straight. Are you saying the NC schools don't enjoy having cupcakes on their football schedules? Then who is it that's making them play the teams they have been scheduling?

  • lewiskr45 Apr 25, 2014

    View quoted thread



    Non-conference rivalries like Georgia-Georgia Tech would not be lost, neither school wants to get rid of that game. One more conference game would require schools to stop scheduling FCS opponents like Elon or Richmond, since those games hurt strength of schedule (which is important for the new playoff format). Do you think Clemson would pick a game against Coastal Carolina over South Carolina? It also gets northern conference schools more opportunities to play in southern states, closer to better recruits. Plus, the 9 conference games, athletic departments will only need to schedule 3 non-conference opponents, easier for them (or 2 in the case of FSU, Clemson, GT, Louisville with their regional non-conference rival, and when those schools play semi-conference opponent Notre Dame, just 1 non-conference game).

  • heelsforever Apr 25, 2014

    Why not schedule a game against a decent team that fans may actually want to see their team play instead if the change is needed to generate extra revenue.

    But, if the league does go to nine games I don't see a problem with odd number of home games. Heck 8-team conferences did that for years back in the good ol' days.

    It also looks like there will only be a few teams that will ever play for the championship without divisions. Oh well, suck it up or get better.

  • ncouterbanks69 Apr 25, 2014

    THis is an insane idea. Maybe not bad for the NC schools who concentrate their efforts on basketball but it would ruin it for other teams who enjoy having yearly non-cupcake matchups. Keep the football schools happy for a change and do away with this insane idea.

  • ncouterbanks69 Apr 25, 2014

    View quoted thread


    Worst idea ever. You know why (yes revenue is certainly the main reason) because a lot of people want it and pay hard earned money to see it. I know I do. The few who do not enjoy it need not watch it.

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