The Confidential

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The ACC’s 8 vs 9 Conference Game Debate

The latest debate in college football is whether the conferences should have 8 conference games or 9 conference games.  Moving forward, the ACC and SEC will have 8 game schedules, while the Big-XII, Pac-12, and B1G will have 9 games.  The ACC and BIG have even talked about allowing non-conference games against conference opponents.  There is much hand-wringing over the ACC-SEC staying at 8 games, but those conferences uniquely have four rivalry games between the two conferences that must be played every year.  And the ACC has the 5-game Notre Dame scheduling issue to worth through.  But there is an easy solution.

The idea of non-conference games against conference opponents is intriguing.  Why should Syracuse and Boston College play Southern California OOC, when they can play Miami or Virginia Tech–great teams in a prime recruiting area?  Why shouldn’t Duke and North Carolina State play more often?  And so on.

Except… why not count them as conference games?   Picture this: Florida State, Clemson, Georgia Tech, and Louisville play 8 conference games.  The remaining schools can play 8 or 9 conference games.  Sure, you could run into an issue where an 8-1 Miami edges ahead of a 7-1 Georgia Tech for the division championship.  But is that the end of the world?  Winning more still controls your destiny.

Regardless, there is a solution to that.  The Confidential has long thought that the use of conference records to determine divisional winners was foolish.  That is not how the BCS games and future playoff positions will be chosen.  Instead, use overall record.  If Georgia Tech is 11-1 and Miami is 11-1, now you have a tie.  Use head-to-head to resolve and this solves everything–the winner of that game properly wins the division.  Three-way tie, with head-to-head tie-breakers of no assistance?  Use standings in the playoff poll.  This way, there is an increased chance of the winner of the ACC Championship Game qualifying for the final four at the end of the season.

Is it possible that a 10-2 Florida State (with losses to Notre Dame and Florida) might lose out to a Clemson team who goes 11-1 only losing to Florida State?  Sure.  But chances are that Clemson will be ranked higher anyway… having beaten South Carolina and the rest of its schedule.  So this is not the end of the world.  A 10-2 Florida State is not making the 4-team playoff anyway.  But an 11-1 Clemson might.   In the big picture, overall record is what the playoff committee will look at, so there is no reason for the ACC to think differently.

Symmetrical?  No.  Simple?  Yes.  What do you think?


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6 thoughts on “The ACC’s 8 vs 9 Conference Game Debate

  1. eswards on said:

    Another dynamic — Three of the four teams with permanent SEC games (FSU, Clemson, Louisville) are in the Atlantic division.

    • Good point. I suppose that it might make sense to swap Louisville over to the Coastal. If Louisville continues to be top 10, the Atlantic is too strong anyway. Swap Pitt for Louisville:

      Atlantic: FSU, Clemson, Pitt, BC, Syracuse, WF, NC State
      Coastal: Miami, Georgia Tech, Louisville, Duke, UNC, Virginia, Va Tech

      Works for me. Then you have 5 teams in each conference to play an additional OC game, as necessary.

  2. Interesting, I’d never thought about it that way. I kind of like it. Honestly, I’m all for 12 conference games. Nothing about San Diego State or Liberty gets me excited and that’s who we’re playing out of conference this year. Conference games are just better game. Plus, I would love to play FSU, Clemson and Louisville more.

  3. I still like 8 and only conference counts. Say there is a team at 11-1 who lost to Podunk U vs a team at 10-2 who lost to Alabama and Ohio State. How do you justify the latter staying home while the first plays for the ACC title?

    • What about the playoffs? If the playoff committee is going to exclude all 10-2 teams, then the team that scheduled Alabama and Ohio State is out of the running anyway. Let the 11-1 team get a chance to win its way into the playoffs by beating another ACC team.

      Hopefully, the NCAA changes the rules and allows the two best conference teams to just play each other. That way 11-1 and 10-2 in your example could very well play in the CCG.

  4. ob-1 on said:

    Stay at 8 conference games and suggest to the SEC and the Big 10 conference rivalry games every year such as;

    ACC vs SEC
    Duke vs Vanderbilt
    Virginia vs Tennessee
    Wake Forest vs Mississippi State
    UNC vs LSU
    Boston College vs Missouri
    Georgia Tech vs Georgia
    Miami vs Alabama
    Pitt vs Mississippi
    Syracuse vs Arkansas
    Clemson vs South Carolina
    Virginia Tech vs Texas A&M
    Florida State vs Florida
    NC State vs Auburn
    Louisville vs Kentucky

    ACC vs Big 10
    Duke vs Northwestern
    Virginia vs Maryland
    Wake Forest vs Minnesota
    UNC vs Michigan State
    Boston College vs Purdue
    Georgia Tech vs Nebraska
    Miami vs Ohio State
    Pitt vs Penn State
    Syracuse vs Rutgers
    Clemson vs Wisconsin
    Virginia Tech vs Iowa
    Florida State vs Michigan
    NC State vs Illinois
    Louisville vs Indiana

    That would be 10 games except for those that would play ND, this would allow most schools to schedule 2 other games and greatly help the SOS. If they really want to go all out then either bring in the Big 12 or PAC.

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