ACC to mull 9-game conference football schedules
Posted April 25
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.