ACC commissioner John Swofford announced today that the conference athletic directors have voted to keep an eight-game football schedule. In addition, the ACC will vote to add a strength of schedule requirement similar to the SEC.
The requirement, if passed, stipulates that each ACC team must play a non-conference game against a team from the power five conferences (Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12, SEC) or Notre Dame beginning in 2017.
The vote is reportedly set to take place on Thursday and is said to merely be a “formality.” The SEC adopted a similar football scheduling format last month.
Four ACC teams meet that requirement already due to annual in-state rivalry games. Clemson plays South Carolina, Florida State plays Florida, Georgia Tech plays Georgia, and Louisville plays Kentucky.
Five teams will also meet the strength of schedule requirement each year due to the conference’s partnership with Notre Dame. But in some seasons, Clemson, Florida State, Georgia Tech, and Louisville will have Notre Dame plus their annual SEC rival on their schedule.
That is likely one of the main factors in keeping an eight-game conference schedule. With 10 games set in any given year, a few teams would have little flexibility in scheduling the remaining two games.
Also, a nine-game schedule is unbalanced because teams have only four conference home games every other season.
On the other hand, the Big 12 and Pac-12 already have a nine-game schedule and the Big Ten will move in that direction in 2016. There doesn’t seem to be much griping from them about nine-games, and the Pac-12 coaches have even resorted to slamming the SEC for its chosen format.
A few other notes on the ACC scheduling format:
- The ACC’s new scheduling requirements will not forbid teams from playing games against the FCS.
- It hasn’t been determined if games against BYU, Army or Navy will fulfill the power five requirement (Navy likely won’t because they join the AAC in 2015).
- Games against Notre Dame scheduled as part of the ACC partnership will fulfill the power five requirement.
- Commissioner Swofford said the ACC will keep the existing divisions and permanent crossover rivalries.