The ACC is reportedly nearing the end of a long discussion on whether or not to expand its conference slate from eight to nine games, with athletics directors set to speak on Friday and the issue at the top of the agenda.
The conference schedule has become a pressing issue for the league since the announcement of the ACC Network. Networks need inventory to survive. One can bet ESPN would vote, should it have one, to see the ACC mirror the Big Ten, Pac-12 and Big 12 in playing nine league games.
But there is an interesting alternative on the table. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the ACC may buttress its one-game Power Five non-conference game mandate by adding a second game.
From the paper:
Speaking at Tech’s media day, Bobinski brought up an intriguing alternative to the nine-game league schedule – keeping the league schedule at eight games but requiring that teams play two non-conference games against power-conference teams. The ACC already has a mandate that goes into effect in 2017 that league teams play one such game.
Said Georgia Tech AD Mike Bobinski: “I would tell that you that I think we’ll get that decision here in the next couple of weeks because we need to. You can’t put your non-conference schedule on hold forever. You’ve got to be able to move it, so getting the resolution on that’s important.”
Georgia Tech would figure to be in favor of the 8 + 2 model, as would Florida State, Clemson and Louisville, who all play in-state, SEC rivals to end the season and are not shy in scheduling additional Power Five games in non-conference play. (Both Florida State and Louisville have upcoming neutral site games with Alabama, Auburn opens at Clemson this season and Georgia Tech faces Tennessee in 2017.) There is also the Notre Dame agreement, where the Irish play nearly half the conference each season.
Should ACC teams not line up another Power Five foe, they would be allowed to schedule ACC teams in non-conference games, as North Carolina and Wake Forest will do in 2019 and 2021.
The ACC requires a simple majority to pass a rule, so a Jackets-Cardinals-Tigers-Seminoles alliance would need just four allies to pass the 8 + 2 model. The 9-game model lost a 2014 vote among ACC athletics directors by an 8-6 margin.