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?