The ACC and Big Ten spring meetings are going on in different locations, but the same absurd topic is being discussed in each. Both conferences are openly discussing the possibility of having members schedule other conference members in non-conference match-ups that would not count in the conference standings.
In the Big Ten meetings, Penn State Athletics Director Dave Joyner says the Big Ten is hinting it is a possibility as the conference looks to figuring out how to fill non-conference schedules with FCS teams being cut from the list of options.
“That’s a unique concept we could talk about more,” Joyner said according to ESPN.com. “That’s a possibility.”
The ACC announced this week the conference will maintain a football schedule consisting of eight conference games and require each member to schedule one team from a power conference each season. For most schools in the ACC, this will be no issue with a handful of teams already having locked rivalry games against SEC rivals and with Notre Dame appearing on schedules on a rotating basis in future years (Notre Dame will fulfill the requirement). A non-conference match-up between ACC members would count toward fulfilling that non-conference requirement. Should it?
Openly discussing all of the options on the table is just fine. That is what these meetings are for, to figure out ways to best serve the conference in a changing landscape. But do not be fooled into thinking this is ever going to actually happen. Conference teams playing each other in non-conference match-ups may serve fans well and provide for more attractive games for most, it ultimately does the conference more harm by hurting overall conference strength of schedule and win totals. Imagine the Big Ten having one bowl spot left unfilled because one of their teams lost to another Big Ten team in a non-conference match-up. The school loses out on a potential win that could have been picked up by scheduling another school and the conference ends up missing out on more bowl revenue.
It is a unique discussion, and perhaps in certain situations a rare match-up could make sense, but it just is not something that will serve the conference’s best interests. Until college football expands to a 14-game regular season, the problems with conference scheduling will continue to unfold.