ACC athletic directors are scheduled to meet in North Carolina this week to discuss a number of topics, including whether or not to expand the ACC schedule from eight games to nine. It’s possible the ADs assembled could vote to adopt a nine-game conference scheduling initiative for future schedules, decide to stay put with the status quo of eight games or just table the entire discussion for a later point in time. It’s anyone’s guess, really.
In 2014, ACC athletic directors voted in favor of sticking with an eight-game conference scheduling format with the stipulation each member must schedule one non-conference game against another power conference opponent. With Notre Dame attached on a rotating schedule and a number of annual rivalries with SEC programs, this was not a huge problem for much of the ACC, although it still led to the possibility of Wake Forest and North Carolina scheduling a non-conference series against each other. Tacking on an extra conference game may not have much support considering the Notre Dame rotating schedule and annual rivalry games against SEC opponents, but as the ACC moves toward launching an ACC Network, the case can be made for improving the inventory of games by doing so would benefit the entire conference.
According to a report from David Teel of The Daily Press in Virginia, there is a split opinion on what scheduling format is most suitable for the ACC. From Teel;
Clemson, Florida State, Louisville, Georgia Tech and Duke appear to staunchly prefer 8+2. That’s five of the seven votes this option needs — a 7-all deadlock means the ACC remains at eight conference games and adds the second required Power Five contest. Commissioner John Swofford does not become Vice President Biden in the Senate and break the tie.
Miami, North Carolina, Virginia, North Carolina State, Wake Forest and Boston College are likely committed to 9+1. That’s six of the eight votes required.
Left to cast deciding votes would be ADs at Virginia Tech, Pitt and Syracuse. Notre Dame does not get a say in this decision as they are not an official football-playing member of the conference. Teel notes Pitt AD Scot Barnes and Virginia Tech AD Whit Babcock could lean in favor of a 9+1 model that would expand the conference schedule to nine games and still inlcude one mandated game against another power conference opponent. One other model on the table could be an eight-game schedule with two required games against power conference opponents. With 14 teams in the SEC, Big Ten and ACC and so few non-conference games to fill between all conferences, that model could be tricky to pull off. Scheduling in college football is done so far in advance, that it becomes difficult to satisfy all of the requirements a conference may place on its members.
The Big 12, Pac-12 and Big Ten each use a nine-game conference schedule. The Big 12 uses a nine-game schedule for a full conference-wide round-robin schedule in which each Big 12 school plays the entire conference. The Big Ten just started using a nine-game conference schedule this season and will mandate that Big Ten schools schedule one game against another power conference or approved opponent (BYU, UConn, Cincinnati etc.) in addition to not scheduling games against FCS opponents. The SEC plays an eight-game schedule and requires members to schedule one non-conference game each year against a power conference or approved (Notre Dame, BYU, Army) opponent.