ACC’s “8+1” scheduling model has potential, but needs outside support

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For the past few years ACC commissioner John Swofford has been saying his conference needs to step it up in games against the other big conferences. Not so long ago the ACC was perceived to be sitting behind not only the SEC in the conference pecking order, but the Big Ten, Big 12 and Pac 12 as well. In a season that saw Florida State win the BCS championship against SEC champion Auburn and Clemson knock off Ohio State in the Orange Bowl, the image may be starting to change for the conference.

As the conference preps for upcoming changes in membership (so long Maryland, hello Louisville), what to do about future conference scheduling remains an unknown. With conferences exploring the ideas of nine-game conference schedules, the ACC is left with a complicated issue thanks to a football scheduling agreement with Notre Dame. The Irish are not a football member of the conference but set aside a handful of guaranteed games each season for ACC schools as part of the conference membership deal Notre Dame agreed to when joining in other sports such as basketball. One idea currently being discussed within the ACC is an “8+1” model that would set up eight conference games and set aside one spot on the schedule to be played against SEC opponents in a crossover scheduling agreement.

According to a report by ESPN.com, the scheduling model is just in the concept phase has and is a long way from becoming a reality. Getting the SEC to agree to provide full conference support for the agreement is just one of the obstacles in the way. If it were to come together though, it would be a great move by the ACC and SEC to provide fans with one more attractive game on the schedule. Of course, it also ramps up the strength of schedule on both ends and that could be a selling point when college football moves in to the College Football Playoff era. Strength of schedule is expected to carry more weight in the selection process for the playoff.

The ACC and SEC already have four match-ups that take place annually. Florida State and Florida, Georgia and Georgia Tech, South Carolina and Clemson, and Louisville and Kentucky are all games that will take place at the end of the season. That leaves 10 programs in each conference without an interconference rivalry game. The idea is not exactly unique of course. The Big Ten and Pac 12 previously had a tentative plan in place to schedule conference-wide crossover games after the conferences had expanded to 12 members, but the Pac 12 backed out of the agreement before it could fully develop due to conference scheduling changes coming up at the time. If the ACC cannot get the full support from the SEC, perhaps working something out with the Big Ten (or Big 12) could become a realistic possibility.

The drawbacks would be the possibility that an ACC-SEC crossover game late in the season could knock one team out of contention for a playoff spot. And if the idea is to schedule these games in the final week of the regular season — Florida-Florida State, Georgia-Georgia Tech, South Carolina-Clemson and Kentucky-Louisville are already the final games of the regular season — it would take away from the tradition of some key games on the college football calendar, such as the Iron Bowl between Alabama and Auburn. Alabama vs. Duke just doesn’t have the same ring to it.

But these games don’t have to be scheduled all on the same weekend. Perhaps some could, to keep some of the existing rivalry games at the end of the year in place both within conferences and between conferences. The idea of mixing in some crossover games in the beginning of the season would work well.

Whatever happens with the ACC scheduling, anything that can be done to improve the strength of schedule across the conference and make for more entertaining games for fans is a win for us all.

Texas QB Shane Buechele undergoes hip surgery, expected back for spring practice

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A postseason injury has forced Shane Buechele to undergo an offseason medical procedure.

Buechele suffered a torn abductor muscle in his hip/abdomen in the first half of Texas’ Texas Bowl win over Missouri and didn’t return in the second half.  Nearly a month later, the football program has announced that the quarterback will undergo surgery on Thursday to repair the damage.

If rehab goes as planned, Buechele is expected to be on the field when the Longhorns kick off spring practice March 5.

As a true freshman in 2016, Buechele started all 12 games for the Longhorns.  This past season was one marred by various injuries.

Buechele started the season opener for Texas, but ceded the job to Sam Ehlinger the next two games because of a bruised throwing shoulder.  Returning to the starting lineup in Week 5, Buechele suffered an ankle injury in the win over Iowa State that allowed Ehlinger to start the next three games.  In the last of those three games, Ehlinger suffered a head injury that left him in concussion protocol and opened the door for Buechele to start five of the last six games of the season.

Buechele and Ehlinger will be the two veterans battling for the starting job once spring practice kicks off in March.

NCAA tables discussions on limiting staff size

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It is going to take some more time to dive deep into the pros and cons of limiting the size of a football staff before the NCAA Division 1 Council decides what to do. In a statement released on Wednesday, the Division 1 Council has decided to table a legislative proposal focusing on setting parameters on the size of a football staff, meaning this topic should pop up again a year from now.

The proposal aims to cap the size of any football staff at 30 people and determine who may be eligible to participate in on-campus recruiting efforts. Those assigned recruiting duties, including head and assistant coaches, would then be required to pass an annual test on recruiting practices. At this time, however, there appears to be too much confusion and uncertainty about how the proposal would impact programs now. With so many questions about the proposal, it was best to put this one on the table and spend the next year examining how it could impact college football programs.

“I went to the American Football Coaches Association meeting, and there were a lot of questions about how this was going to work,” Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby, the chair of the oversight committee, said in a release shared by the NCAA. “The coaches wanted to know who was going to be included, how they would be certified and who was exempted.”

This topic has already been floating out there since last spring, and with recent adjustments from the NCAA to allow for a 10th full-time assistant coach, it appears this will be the next step in the evolution of ruling how large a football staff can be.

Miami’s home winning streak is officially over after Orange Bowl loss

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The Miami Hurricanes opened the new year with a loss in the Orange Bowl in their home stadium, but the Hurricanes marked the bowl game down in their records as a neutral site game. Not so fast, says the NCAA. That loss to the Badgers will go down as a home loss for the Hurricanes.

Because the NCAA officially records the Orange Bowl as a home game for Miami any time the Hurricanes happen to play in the bowl game hosted in their home stadium, the wins and losses are reflected on Miami’s home record. This is true for any team playing a bowl game in their home stadium, including any time UCLA appears in the Rose Bowl or San Diego State in the Holiday Bowl or Poinsettia Bowl.

Prior to losing to Wisconsin in the Orange Bowl this past season, Miami was riding nine-game winning streak in Hard Rock Stadium dating back to November 5, 2016. Miami will get a chance to hit the reset button on their home winning streak on September 8 with a home game against Savannah State.

Report: LSU to add former RB Kevin Faulk to staff if SEC gives the green light

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Former LSU running back Kevin Faulk could be set to return to the Tigers program in a new role if the SEC will allow it. According to a report from The Advocate, Faulk is being lined up to join the LSU football support staff, but his addition must be thoroughly vetted first.

Because Faulk is a high school coach, LSU and the SEC must be certain he has no direct ties to any LSU football players on the roster. This is to ensure the staff change complies with a new NCAA rule prohibiting schools from hiring high school coaches for a two-year period when any player from that associated high school enrolls at the university. As long as there are no players on LSU’s roster with any ties to Faulk’s high school coaching within the past two years, the staff change should become official.

Having Faulk associated with the program would be good to see considering how much Faulk meant to LSU during his college career. Faulk rushed for a school-record 4,557 yards and 46 rushing touchdowns. Both are records that stand today despite some extremely talented running backs over the years. Since Faulk’s final season at LSU in 1998, Leonard Fournette has come the closest to Faulk’s career rushing total with 3,830 yards in three years. Fournette is also the closest to Faulk since Faulk played to the school record for career rushing touchdowns, with 40.

Supposing the staff addition does go through, Faulk will not be involved with any off-campus recruiting efforts or on-field coaching assignments, but he will assist with player development.