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ACC Winter Meetings Recap- The Nine Game Conference Schedule

While everyone was caught up in the hype of the Super Bowl (or changing the channel and tuning into Downton Abbey instead), the ACC quietly had their winter meetings at the end of last week. On the agenda? A number of different things that could drastically shape the future of the league. Today, we talk about the return of the nine game conference schedule. Not a lot has been reported regarding the meetings, so this is only discussion and speculation right now.

The Return of the Nine Game Conference Schedule- The arguments on both sides are pretty old. A nine game conference schedule has its benefits and its issues. But the issue just hasn’t gone away, with ADs at Georgia Tech and Miami recently discussing the move.

PROS- Because of the current 6-1-1 scheduling model that the ACC holds, along with its divisional alignment, teams in the Atlantic and Coastal Divisions sometimes go 12 years without seeing each other at home. That’s ridiculous. That’s not a conference. Additional league games would allow teams to visit each other more frequently, creating more exciting matchups for fans and a better sense of unity between league schools. It could also potentially help with strength of schedule for teams that generally don’t play difficult opponents out of conference, although that’s completely matchup dependent. Finally, it would make scheduling easier and more predictable for athletic directors since they wouldn’t have to find as many schools to play each year.

CONS- When Notre Dame announced that it was joining the ACC in 2012, the league dropped its planned move to a nine game conference schedule. Why? Because teams like Florida State, Clemson and Georgia Tech weren’t happy with the possibility of playing nine ACC games, an SEC rival and Notre Dame (as part of their 5-game scheduling agreement) in one season. That’s an understandable concern, along with a feeling that it would be difficult to get to 7 home games each season, a number many teams  need to get to in order to break even. Many fans would also miss the opportunity to play marquee non-conference opponents because their teams would most certainly schedule easier programs to fill the remaining spots.

THE FINAL VERDICT- This is probably, at some point, inevitable. Along with the talk of ESPN wanting inventory for the proposed ACC Network, the majority of other conferences have already made the switch (Pac-12, Big 12, Big 10). That makes out of conference scheduling harder for ACC teams unless they want to play more easy programs, which let’s be honest- are really boring, even as home games. The additional money from ESPN and a more attractive schedule (leading to better ticket sales), could easily make up for the potential loss of a home game and creative scheduling is always a possibility to preserve it. It would be great to play teams in the opposing division more frequently, and if the non-divisional format is approved, this could be even better. Depending on the playoff qualifications, Notre Dame’s hand may be forced anyway, leaving them as just another part of the nine game schedule.

ANOTHER POTENTIAL OTHER SOLUTION- If the ACC wants to retain an eight game schedule, they should seriously consider additional partnerships, or challenges like the one they have in basketball. An ACC-SEC Challenge for the Southern teams would be difficult, but the potential reward is massive, the scheduling easier and the matchups exciting. An ACC-B1G Challenge for the Northern teams would be just as great. Imagine something similar to this-

ACC                        SEC                                         ACC                        Big Ten

Florida State       Florida*                                Virginia                 Maryland

Georgia Tech     Georgia*                               Pittsburgh           Penn State

Clemson               South Carolina*                 Notre Dame       Michigan State

Louisville             Kentucky*                          Syracuse              Rutgers

Wake Forest      Vanderbilt                           Boston College  Ohio State

North Carolina  Tennessee

Virginia Tech      Alabama

Duke                     Missouri

NC State              LSU

Miami                   Auburn

*existing matchup

No matter what the ACC decides regarding the nine game conference schedule, some people will be unhappy. That’s just the reality of it. But ultimately, the ACC will decide what best fits its needs right now. At the start of 2012, that was a nine game schedule. At the end of 2012, that was an eight game schedule due to the new Notre Dame partnership. It really could go either way, but all sources would point to the league’s inevitable adoption of this policy.

Trending topics about the ACC Winter Meetings- Stipends and full-cost of attendance scholarships, football divisional format and the ACC title game, Maryland-ACC lawsuit

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4 thoughts on “ACC Winter Meetings Recap- The Nine Game Conference Schedule

  1. ACC/SEC, ACC/B1G is a great idea. In fact I pitched something similar on other message board before. I also had UNC vs Tenn but somebody pointed out to me that VT vs Tenn works out better because of whole NASCAR culture centered around Bristol. In fact they have a game scheduled to be played at Bristol Motor Speedway in 2016. So, that will result in UNC vs Bama (ACC kingpin vs SEC kingpin).
    Also, I’d switch BC and Syracuse. Syracuse vs Ohio State seem like a better idea and has twice as more history than BC vs Ohio State. There are more population exchange between NYC and Boston so BC vs Rutgers makes more sense.

    Dammit ND!

    • Here’s more tweaks. I’d pit Duke vs Ole Miss and NC State vs Miss St. It feels more southern. And I feel like SEC would rather offer up Missou, LSU, Ark, and Texas A&M to Big12 for inter conference games.

    • Definitely UVa vs Maryland. Va Tech vs Tennessee, UNC vs Auburn, Miami vs Alabama. Duke and Wake should alternate with Vandy and Northwestern. NC State ought to play Miss. State. Syracuse vs Ohio State, Boston College vs Rutgers. Pitt vs Penn State – duh! Notre Dame should alternate between Mich. St and Purdue, maybe toss in Michigan occasionally as well. (JMO)

  2. I agree that VT/Tennessee is another good option for the reasons all of you mentioned. Is anybody going to the Bristol game? I thought about it…

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