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

Clemson South Carolina football

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, 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.

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19 Responses to “ACC’s “8+1” scheduling model has potential, but needs outside support”
  1. amosalanzostagg says: Feb 7, 2014 6:24 PM

    The dawning of the super conferences.

    The ACC is now a premier conference. Basketball first, but with the national championship with Florida State and the addition of Notre Dame, the ACC stands poised to explode past the Big 12 and the B1G.


    Demographics. The networks love demographics.

    Eastern and Central Time zones, check
    A GROWING population base, check
    Popular destination availability, check

    What does this mean in the picture of big time, prime time college sports? It means the ACC is right up there with the B1G and the SEC as national
    conferences. The PAC-12 is a great product, but is limited by the time zone differences and that makes a huge difference TV money wise. A 7:30pm PDT kickoff means a 9:30pm EDT debut and interferes with other social events. Unless it is Stanford /UCLA or an above average USC/anybody, you aren’t going to have butts on the couch.

    Good for the ACC.

  2. ajarkoski says: Feb 7, 2014 6:44 PM

    ACC is going to face its medicine someday in the near future. They cannot go and cause most of the conference reallignment and not expect teams to want to move on from the ACC! Thier pillaging of the former BigEast teams set a standard. If other conferences come calling, how can they deny the request. Maryland is setting the standard. We have seen the lawsuits before. I see SEC, Big 12, and maybe Big TEN looking at some nice final pieces to their super-conference portfolios. ACC does not have the clout to fend off these advances. Let the dancing continue as partners are exchanged!

  3. normtide says: Feb 7, 2014 6:50 PM

    Don’t look for Bama or Auburn to play any regular season games after the Iron Bowl. It won’t happen. Other than that, I think it is a nice option. The two leagues both came out of the old southern league. They share much of the same footprint. But, I think outside of the existing rivals, teams should rotate who they play. The ACC don’t have enough power teams to match the number of power SEC teams. Which will mean a regular rival that is basically a cupcake. But, I still like the principle of the idea.

  4. jdl1325 says: Feb 7, 2014 7:59 PM

    Anything but the 9 game conference schedule that these idiots from Syracuse and Pitt are pining for works for me.

    These schools are willing to sacrifice the good of the conference and the long term good of their own programs just to get FSU in their homes a little more often.

  5. longtallsam says: Feb 7, 2014 8:17 PM

    “A 7:30pm PDT kickoff means a 9:30pm EDT debut…”

    No…7:30 Pacific time would be 10:30 Eastern.

  6. dmvtransplant says: Feb 7, 2014 9:33 PM

    Please the ACC is now what the PAC-10 was a decade ago. One National championship level team (USC/FSU) and one other team that could win a BCS (Cal/Clemson) and the field (leftovers).

    I find it hard to believe there are coaches from other conferences worried about facing Va Tech, Wake Forest, Ga Tech, VA or NC State. Same way no one is concerned with fielding a team against Purdue, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Rutgers and Maryland. Two teams don’t make you dominate.

  7. dmcgrann says: Feb 7, 2014 9:44 PM

    “Eastern and Central Time zones, check”

    All ACC schools are in the Eastern Time Zone, including Louisville and Notre Dame.

  8. manik56 says: Feb 7, 2014 10:27 PM

    I think you just proved Maryland’s damages case in one sentence. Wallace Loh thanks you.

  9. amosalanzostagg says: Feb 7, 2014 10:37 PM

    This is not about football. This is about super
    conferences and their alignment. It means a cool
    $1 Billion dollars to a conference

    With Notre Dame in the conference you have an increased NATIONAL exposure in ALL the conference sports.

    Men’s Basketball is the lead for the ACC. Syracuse,
    Duke, North Carolina, Notre Dame et al is huge as a
    revenue driver for the ACC.

    Football will continue to develop, you have Clemson, FSU, Notre Dame and developing football programs like Virginia.

    The ACC is one school away from a super conference. The B1G and SEC are each two schools away. Pac-12 four.

    Big 12 is SIX away.

    You could say that the ACC is ahead of the B1G
    since they have Notre Dame, a national program,
    coming into play in the entire spectrum of
    sports. The ACC is an ASCENDING conference, capable of growing exponentially financially because of the TV contracts. They have the Eastern seaboard.With Notre Dame, they have the upper Midwest and Chicago.

    Maryland and Rutgers did not bring the markets the B1G already had. Syracuse and Boston College helped solidify the ACC in the New England/ Mid Atlantic market.

    You may hate the ACC, but the reality is that the
    ACC has positioned themselves quite well for the future.


  10. amosalanzostagg says: Feb 7, 2014 10:41 PM

    If you want to blame conference realignment, blame Texas under Deloss Dodds. He started the whole critter by chasing Arkansas to the SEC.


  11. ajarkoski says: Feb 8, 2014 1:10 AM

    Who thinks that if the SEC comes calling, schools like FSU and VTECH won’t jump to join the greatest conference? Why did Maryland leave if everything was so wonderful in the ACC ? The B1G has the clout and they also will need one or two extra teams. How about Boston College and maybe UConn (non-ACC). The B1G likes to split its pursuit across conferences. Then the Big-12 cannot ignore what is happening and pillages the ACC for its choice of team. How can the ACC fend them off? The Domers are like a politicians and will leave the ACC at the later. You cannot trust them. It is all about football, and if the ACC think basketball is part of puzzle, only have to look at the former Big East.

  12. normtide says: Feb 8, 2014 3:08 AM

    The ACC is more like the big12. FSU is Texas, basically holding it together. With Clemson being it’s version of Oklahoma. Just analogy wise, not comparing Texas and Oklahoma to FSU/Clemson. If either left the ACC, it’s over for the league. Many of the other programs are just happy to be in a big 5 league. They could learn from the b1g though too. Basketball can be very important, but football must be first and foremost. What’s working against the ACC is the fact that there really isn’t any programs in mid major leagues that should be in a big 5 one. Quite the contrary, really. If FSU and or Clemson get raided by a sweet offer from the big 12, the b1g and SEC will clean up what’s useful of the rest. Then the remaining 4 will organize song themselves. That’s possibly the only way it happens.

  13. longborer69 says: Feb 8, 2014 3:28 AM

    Great move for the ACC to strengthen their schedule, but why would the SEC want to make theirs weaker? :)

    Both leagues have some weak sisters (the ACC obviously has more), so you can still give the powers of each league a cream puff game if you want, but claim you’ve improved things.

    Joking aside, the PAC12 plays 9 conference games AND almost everyone looks for at least one non-conference game against a legit team from a power conference.

    This year WSU played Auburn, Cal played tOSU and Northwestern, three teams played Notre Dame, ASU played Wisconsin, UCLA played Nebraska, Washington played Boise State (game arranged when BSU was a top opponent), Oregon played Tennessee (arranged when they were good), etc.

    That’s in addition to nine conference games. When teams from the ACC or SEC play nine in conference plus one legit non-conference opponent, or eight in conference and two power OOC opponents, then I’ll be impressed. Having three OOC cupcakes, or in some cases even four, just isn’t impressive.

  14. keltictim says: Feb 8, 2014 6:41 AM

    Hehehe clemson. One could argue that for the last give years clemson has been just a lil tune up for USC to prepRe for our bowl game. Yes I know it hasn’t always been that way, BUT right now the Gamecocks are firmly planted in lil ole dabos head. A

  15. keltictim says: Feb 8, 2014 6:45 AM

    Sorry premature post, wasn’t finished. As I was saying, that lil half a midget can crow all he wants about getting an undeserved BCS bowl game, but until he figures out how to beat us, nobody in the great Palmetto state cares! Don’t worry dabo the sun shines on a dogs butt every once in a while, one day you’ll beat us. Just not today son. Not today.

  16. drummerhoff says: Feb 8, 2014 11:33 AM

    The Big 12 is doomed and the ACC will suffer a worse fate: survive as the poorest of the top conferences.
    The PAC, SEC and B1G will rule college football. It might take 10 years, but the champs of these 3 and one at large will be the 4 team playoff model.

  17. amosalanzostagg says: Feb 8, 2014 3:58 PM


    IF FSU and Clemson were the ONLY two powers, i’d agree with you. The ACC adding Notre Dame changed everything. The ACC now has NATIONAL
    exposure and should Notre Dame break into the football playoff as an ACC Champion, the league only grows stronger.

    The SEC doesn’t want FSU as Georgia, South Carolina and Florida have major objections to adding ANY Florida school. VA Tech doesn’t bring anything to the table that the SEC already has.

    The ACC has already fended off overtures from the Big 12 when Deloss and Texas went after FSU and Clemson after being turned down for conference admission.

    To be blunt, FSU faculty and administrators threatened the President of FSU with his job if a move to the Big 12 was pursued. FSU as a whole believes the Big 12 to be inferior academically.
    Clemson laughed at the prospect.

    Coming from a proud Bama grad and supporter, the ACC has very quietly positioned their conference for the long haul. The SEC could learn some things from what the ACC did. The ACC is
    going to have it’s own network ala the B1G and the SEC, perhaps as early as 2016. it depends on the ESPN/Raycom negotiations.

    The conference sitting on the lido deck listening to the band play “Nearer my God to Thee” as the ship sinks is the Big 12. Texas runs that conference with an iron fist and if Texas sees that it is going to be left out of the super conference money, it will drop the LHN and do what is in it’s best interest. They have done that time after time after time. See the old SWC, see the school movement from Arkansas, Colorado, Nebraska, Texas A&M and Missouri OUT of the Big 12, and see what Texas thinks of the rest of the Big 12 when it comes to the LHN.

    No, the ACC has done a great job in positioning their brand NATIONALLY.


  18. normtide says: Feb 8, 2014 11:50 PM

    I was thinking, if the dominoes fell like I was talking about, the SEC would get a school a school from North Carolina and Virginia. It’s pretty well established that we won’t double up on any more states.

    If FSU/Clemson left the ACC, their tv deal would be severely stripped. It’s already dwarfed by the other top leagues. ND is a huge brand to align with. But, tv rights wise, they are spoken for. Also, they won’t be members in football. The ACC won’t get the full Irish affect.

    I agree with you about the big12. But, the 12 also has a lot of schools willing to bow to Texas just to be in a major conference. I count at least five. Pretty much Oklahoma and OKST are really the only programs that could do without Texas as a partner in some way. The power hungry and the needy makes a perfect pair.

  19. musketmaniac says: Feb 9, 2014 7:04 PM

    N.dame is the death sentence, this school will drag it all down. The big east made that mistake years ago. ALL SPORTS CONFERENCE. means all sports. Temple killed big east football in the early 90s but no John Chaney and Owl basketball. Miami football was awesome, but we couldn’t get their baseball program. No notre dame football, though they stole our bowl games and allowed their pathetic[at the time] basketball and female sports to gain momentum. The Pederass Joe paterno envisioned an all eastern sports league, when that failed they joined big ten, which us the true beginning of all this. I don’t get it N.dame football is garbage, Alabama showed us that last year. And look at what this has done to Acc basketball, Syracuse is running thru it laughing at what a joke the Acc is. They never thoroughly dominated the big east this way. Boehiem has said several times how this is an average team and how he is shocked on its domination

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