ACC AD’s vote to keep eight-game schedule plus play Power Five or Notre Dame

By Kevin Kelley -

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.

Comments (33)

Actually, four ACC teams already meet the requirement. Georgia Tech plays Georgia every year in addition to the other three annual SEC-ACC pairings.

SEC leads the way and the ACC follows. Both the ACC and SEC’s decision to remain at an 8-game conference schedule appears to only impact lower tier programs in the two conferences (NC St, WF, Vandy, Miss St, as well as Misso and Missi).

2014 – WF and NC St are the only two ACC programs to not have scheduled a P5 program for OOC play.
2015 – NC St has yet to schedule a P5 to OOC, but still has one TBA.
2016 – both NC St and BC do not have P5 on their OOC schedules, but each still has a TBA.
2017 – Miami FL has yet to schedule P5 to OOC, but still has one TBA.

2014 – Missi, TAM, Vandy and Miss St have not scheduled a P5 program for OOC play.
2015 – Missi has not scheduled a P5 program for OOC play. Same for Misso, Vandy, and Miss St but the three programs still have a TBA.
2016 – Much of the SEC OOC schedule is yet to be announced. At this time, Auburn, Alabama, and Misso have no OOC games scheduled. Both Missi and Miss St do not have P5 on OOC schedule, but each has a TBA.
2017 – Much of the SEC OOC schedule is yet to be announced. At this time, Auburn, and Alabama have no OOC games scheduled. Both Vandy and Miss St do not have P5 on OOC schedule, but each has a TBA.

Unless something changes, it appears the overwhelmingly majority of SEC programs will continue to schedule THREE OOC games with G5 or FCS programs.

Whereas, after 2014, future schedules show half of ACC programs scheduled OOC games with THREE G5 or FCS programs, the other half opting to play TWO OOC games with P5 programs. I suspect you will see the entire ACC move towards scheduling TWO OOC games with P5 programs every season.

It will be interesting to watch how the SEC’s effectively non-decision to remain at the status quo pans out.The Playoff Committee will definitely take this into consideration.

P5 = Power Conference
G5 = Group of Five Conference

It will be interesting to see if the strength of the SEC as a whole will be enough to counteract the cupcake non-conference schedules. In recent years most FBS teams must go undefeated to get a shot at the title. The exception has been teams coming out of the SEC. There is a tremendous amount of respect for those that can navigate through the SEC gauntlet with only a few blemishes. Schools in other conferences have been afforded no such luxuries.

With the introduction of the College Football Playoff, non-conference schedules will probably be a factor when deciding which 1-loss (or perhaps 2-loss) teams are more deserving. That being said, a typical SEC schedule consists of so many quality teams to the point that it doesn’t really matter who they play out of conference. The other P5 teams are in a position where they need to beef up their schedule in order to catch up. The SEC will stick with the status quo as long as they keep getting a shot at the title. If after a few years their strength of schedule keeps them out of the playoffs (highly unlikely) then we could see a 9 game conference schedule or perhaps a limit on lower tier competition. Until then, why would they make the path to the championship any more difficult than it already is?

“Why change the ingredients of success?”

Compare to the three conferences with 9-game conferences schedules (including B1G in 2016),

Future OOC schedules NOT including at least one P5 program:


2014 – Baylor*.
2015 – Baylor*, Ok St, Kan St.
2016 – Baylor*, Kansas. (Kan St and WV still have a TBA).
2017 – (Kan St, WV and Kansas still has a TBA).
2018 – (OK St. Kan St and Tex Tech still have a TBA).
2019 – Baylor*. (Ok St, WV, Kan St, Tex Tech and Kansas still have a TBA).

*Baylor – annual game with SMU injures the Bears OOC, unless Baylor adds a P5 program to their OOC schedules. None are scheduled through 2016 or in 2019. Baylor’s only P5 OOC games through 2019 is a home and home with Duke in 2017-18.


2014 – Colo$, Arizona, Ore St.
2015 – Colo$, Wash. (Arizona still has a TBA).
2016 – Utah#, Wash St. (Arizona still has a TBA).
2017 – Utah#, Wash St, Colo$. (Arizona and Cal still have a TBA).
2018 – Arizona. (Arizona St. Cal, Wash, Utah#, Oregon St and Wash St still have a TBA).
2019 – (Arizona St, Utah#, Cal, Wash St, Arizona and Oregon St still have a TBA).

$Colorado – annual rivalry game with Colo State will injure Buffalo OOC. The Buffs however are visting Michigan in 2016 and home and home with Nebraska in 2019-19 and 2023-24 and home and home with Minnesota in 2021-22.

#Utah – annual rivalry game with BYU injures Ute OOC. Utah has home and home scheduled with Michigan in 2014-15.


2014 – %
2015 – %
2016 – Maryland, Purdue.
2017 – Illinois. (Wisconsin and Indiana still have a TBA).
2018 – Illinois. (Wisconsin, Mich St, Minn and Indiana still have a TBA).
2019 – (Mich St, Minn, Purdue, Illinois and Indiana still have a TBA).
2020 – (Nebraska, Minn, Illinois and Indiana still have a TBA).
2021 – (Penn St and Indiana still have a TBA).

%note: 9-game conf schedule takes effect in 2016. Thus NW and Minnesota Will have to cancel OOC games currently on 2016 schedules.

The B1G will play 8-game conf schedules in 2014 & 2015 and B1G programs will play FOUR OOC games each. Only FOUR B1G programs are playing TWO OOC games each against P5 programs in both 2014 and 2015, whereas the other TEN B1G programs will each play THREE OOC games against G5 or FCS programs. The Playoff Committee will definitely include this in their evaluations for 2014 and 2015.

BYU does not hurt Utah’s out of conference schedules. Northern Colorado, Weber St., Idaho St., Southern Utah, and San Jose St. hurt their out of conference schedules.

Wait what? Why would Army potentially count as one of the required group of 5 games and Navy wouldn’t just b/c Navy is joining the AAC? Navy has been far better than Army as of late winning 12 straight and 15 of the last 17. vs Army. BYU probably wont even get the Notre Dame like exception so there is just no way Army would and Navy wouldnt.

Reporters mentioned Army and Navy with BYU and Notre Dame because they are all independents right now. There’s no way Army and Navy will count as a Power Five game.

BYU should absolutely get the P5 inclusion. They schedule more and compete better against P5 schools than any other Group of Five school…and than many mediocre P5 schools. They have a 30,000+ student body and average around 64K in home game attendance (this would be #3 in the Big 12, #5 in the PAC 12, #6 in the ACC, and #8 in the Big Ten).

Regardless, any ACC team that schedules BYU knows that it helps their strength of schedule. The real issue is whether the risk of losing to BYU, even at home, will scare off ACC teams from scheduling the Cougars.

As an independent, BYU is actually well-situated to fill in some late season scheduling holes created by Notre-ACC and ACC-SEC matchups. PAC 12 have already seen this value and have started to schedule BYU in November.

The best thing for the B10, B12, and PAC to do now is make a scheduling agreement of 9 conference games + 1 mandatory game against Power 5 teams.

Basically just saying we can do the same thing you are doing, with the extra conference game. No problem whatsoever.

Absolutely! The only way to have a beauty contest (aka, CFP selection process) is if the contestants actually compete with each other.

As is, teams are saying – my conference championship and my undefeated home record against Group of Five and FCS opponents is better than yours! It’s ridiculous.

Play the games on the field. Why in the world don’t the Big 10, Big 12, and PAC 12 just schedule each other out of conference? THAT would help to actually determine who deserves the CFP selections and who the true championship is!

ACC Atlantic fan: Hey guys! Nice of you to come to town and play us. What conference are you from?

ACC Coastal fan: We are in the ACC Conference.

ACC Atlantic fan: Really? We are in the ACC Conference too. That’s funny, I’ve been going here for 6 years and have yet to see you guys here.

You can take the above story and replace it with SEC East and SEC West too!

This article should actually say Power 5.

Group of 5 means the other 5 conferences that are not power conferences.

Power 5 = ACC/B10/B12/PAC/SEC


Just throwing it out there, this article is all over and I think they confused a few people with their wording on this matter.

It’s actually all over the place wherever you look. I was under the impression that “Group of Five” and “Power Five” were the same thing. Hopefully this will be fleshed out soon.

“Group of Five” is commonly used by major news reporting sites to refer to the American, Mountain West, MAC, Conference USA, and Sun Belt conference. The highest rated champion from among these conferences will receive an invitation to play in one of the CFP’s “access” bowls. I think it’s pretty standard. Here are links to articles using this “Group of Five” reference from: ESPN, CBSSports, Sports Illustrated, USAToday, and Sporting News…

Thanks. I can show you several examples of major news sites using Group of Five for the BCS, but most are from last year. Looks like they changed to power five along the way.

Yeah, it wasn’t your fault Kevin. It was how the article was worded. I just see it confusing so many people, especially ones who don’t follow CFB as closely…

The one thing they missed, in my opinion, was switching the VT & BC crossover games with the UVA & Louisville. VT & Louisville seem like a more natural paring and so does UVA & BC. UVA (#23) and BC (#31) are closer in academic rankings, and so are VT (#69) and Louisville (#161). The switched pairs are closer in distance, which I think helps rivalries. Not a lot of games between BC and UVA (5), but there are only 2 games between UVA and Louisville. VT and Louisville have played 7 times, not a lot, but I think a better long term fit. VT and BC do have 22 games, but I know some VT they like the switch. I have even seen on some forums that BC guys would like the switch.

The ACC staying with 8 games makes perfect sense. 4 teams already play their P5 rival each year. And 5 teams play Notre Dame which (basically acts as a 9th conference game). Clemson and Georgia Tech who both play Notre Dame in 2015. Their schedules would be 9 Conf games their SEC rival and Notre Dame. That would leave them with 1 OOC game to schedule.

The pro 9 game arguments are that you dont play everyone in your conference enough with 8 games and therefore you need 9 to shorten the time between playing every team. This is the best argument for 9 games IMO. But this problem has more to do with going to 14 team conferences. As the conferences get bigger the regularity at which all schools play each other gets smaller. Also having every team pay 4 home and 4 away each year is more fair than 4 – 5 for some and 5-4 for others. The 9th game vs Notre Dame or another P5 will not affect your conference standings.

IMO the B1G will follow the lead of the ACC and SEC and never actually go to 9 conference games. And instead they will require 1 P5 OOC game per year (just a prediction). This will help push to keep rivalries such as Iowa – Iowa St. And help keep Michigan Michigan St. and Purdue to regularly play Notre Dame.

The only conference that should play 9 conference games is the Big 12. As long as they maintain 10 schools and a true round robin format they should keep the 9 game schedule. But if and when they expand I think that they should go back to 8 games. I also think that all P5 schools should play the 8 conf and 1 p5 OOC model. And that they should add BYU to the list of the acceptable P5 games. BYU can help fill a spot when the ACC or Pac 12 are playing Notre Dame (as they are in playing Cal this year). Also the fact that BYU is a better program than at least 1/3 of P5 programs makes them viable.

That noise you hear, are the Athletic Director’s phonelines at Kansas & University of Utah blowing up!

If you get the same credit for playing Texas or USC in a 100k seat stadium as you do playing Utah or Kansas in a 30k+ stadium, why not just pick the conference doormats?

I agree and disagree.

This whole 8+1 model isn’t anything special. Teams should already be following this requirement. Shame on the ones who don’t. I think CFB would be better off if everyone had a 9+1 or 8+2 format. Teams should challenge themselves more.

ONLY 9 games required against P5 schools with a 12 game schedule? Should be at least 10 games for everybody. In my opinion, 9 just isn’t anything special when you have room for 12 games on your schedule. Do you really need 3 games against schools from lower conferences or from the FCS?

My point does apply to all teams in P5 conferences too, not just the ACC and SEC.

Fair enough on the B10 prediction. But, just so you know, they already have schedules made all the way out until 2019.

I agree that schools shouldn’t shy away from playing other P5 schools. Take Clemson and FSU they will play 8 conf + SEC rival every year + Notre Dame every 3 years or so. So they have 9 P5 every year and 10 in a lot of others. And FSU has future home/home series with USF and Boise St. and playing those games are a bigger challenge then scheduling P5 schools like Indiana Kansas Colorado etc. So you can still play quality non P5 teams in your remaining games.

Most P5 programs want to schedule 7 homes games each year. And the top programs are doing this. This becomes the main reason why the P5 needs the G5 and the FCS. Without those games everyone would be forced to play 6-6. And teams that play annual neutral site games like Oklahoma – Texas and Florida – Georgia would play a 5-6-1 or a 6-5-1 home-away-neutral schedule. And that just wont happen.

Also the lower tier P5 programs Indiana, Kansas, Wake Forest, Ole Miss, Colorado etc. they want to win and go bowling. So they will try to create schedules that give them the best chance to do so.

And that is what is wrong with college football my friend. Teams have to get what they want. Nobody NEEDS 7 home games, they want it, but they will try to tell you they need it. Like you said, teams will try to schedule easier in order to make a bowl. It’s a shame but it’s true. Some teams don’t want to challenge themselves.

Bradley BYU fan said “BYU should absolutely get the P5 inclusion”. Please quit drinking the koolaid.

Until BYU plays a schedule equivalent to Power Conference programs (that is, a minimum of nine games per season against other power conference programs) BYU should not be considered of Power conference quality as Notre Dame is.

Number of power conference programs BYU has currently scheduled

2014 (3)
2015 (2) (1 TBA remaining)
2016 (3) (5 TBA remaining)
2017 (2) (5 TBA remaining)
2018 (3) (6 TBA remaining)
2019 (4) (6 TBA remaining)
2020 (4) (7 TBA remaining)
2021 (2) (9 TBA remaining)

Theoretically, in 2019, BYU could still play nine games against power conference programs. But I don’t see that happening.

Nothing against the BYU. Indeed the Cougars are attempting to improve their schedule. But those are the facts.

Bradly, I mistyped. I meant to type SOS (instead of OOC)…

Utah – annual rivalry game with BYU injures the Ute’s SOS
Colorado – annual rivalry game with Colo State injures the Buffaloes SOS
Baylor – annual game with SMU injures the Bears SOS

To clarify each of the rivalry game above does not necessarily have a significant negative impact on the SOS. But when the rivalry game replaces a game against a power conference program, that is where the likely SOS injury comes into play.

Actually, you can add another In a few years. Pitt and Penn State are renewing there rivalry, that was one of the best in the 70’s, 80’s and early 90’s. Slated for 16 through 19 now, but both athletic directors have said that they are working on making it become permanent again.

Pitt is losing it’s every year game against Notre Dame which we don’t like, but understand, and thankfully Pitt’s A.D. has added Penn State as said above, and a series staring with
Oklahoma St. in a few years, so we’ll have 8 conf. and 2 BCS conf games every year.

Now to get the program up to the task.