Clemson coach Dabo Swinney was ACC football’s spokesman at the conference’s spring meetings Wednesday, giving insight into some of what’s ahead for 2013 and the 14-team league to come 2014.
Before the media assembled, Swinney said the ACC coaches voted as a united front for staying at eight regular season games in football, with the upcoming partnership with Notre Dame a primary reason.
With a nine-game conference slate, teams with Notre Dame also on the schedule would only have two more out of conference games in their control. In Clemson’s case, they would have just one – South Carolina already a non-conference mainstay.
"When you’re a school like us, when you’re playing Notre Dame, South Carolina plus nine conference games, it limits you in what you can do in our out of conference scheduling," Swinney said to ESPN. "We like the flexibility that comes with being able to do a Clemson-Georgia. We’re all comfortable with eight."
The nine-game talk has picked up, after the ACC recently moved back to eight games, with Alabama's Nick Saban pushing for more SEC play instead of FCS action. Per Swinney, the ACC, however, isn't looking at eliminating FCS games, as the Big Ten recently voted to do.
With scheduling issues out of the way, Swinney said the conference now has to earn its reputation – a better one rather – to move up prestige-wise in the new college football order.
“If we're going to change the (ACC) perception, we have to do it from the inside out,” Swinney told CBSSports.com. “If we do that, maybe we'll be the No. 1-perceived conference.
“I think the SEC has earned everything they've got. They earned it on the field. Period. They produced a champion. I agree there's been three, four dominant teams in that league. It's like, a 4 x 100. We haven't had anybody carry the baton yet. Hopefully we can get that going.”
• The ACC coaches want a voice in the College Football Playoff, via the Coaches’ Poll. With the selection committee makeup up for debate, they don’t mind the idea of ex-coaches, current ADs and conference representatives on the panel, but want their own say as well. “Will you have some bias from each coach? Absolutely you will,” Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe said, “but through the country if it got balanced out, you'd probably still have a pretty legitimate idea of at least who the coaches though the top-four teams were.” What’s also interesting is a push to do away with the preseason polls, which would likely help non-media hyped teams to stand out earlier in the season.
• Nothing new on the ACC Network, as it looks like it’s still years away from fruition. That said, the conference is flaunting its numbers. Per Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson, the ACC has “more TV sets and people in the (geographic) footprint than any other league.”
• A new bowl order is in order for 2014 when Louisville joins, and the picture has changed just in the last couple weeks per ESPN. The Chick-fil-A Bowl, No. 2 in the ACC order, is ceded to the College Football Playoff in 2014, making way for the Russell Athletic Bowl (Orlando, Fla.) to jump to next-best after the BCS status. Per the bowl, a set of sweeping renovations to the Citrus Bowl will be in line by the time the move would happen. As far as additions, the ACC might be sharing the Gator Bowl with the Big Ten, while New York City’s Pinstripe Bowl is likely to become an ACC-Big Ten matchup. Not mentioned by the ESPN is the status of the Sun Bowl, which is currently the ACC’s No. 4 bowl, but the Belk and Music City are still in the mix.
• Clemson in MSG in March (and not in the NIT)? The ACC is “thoroughly investigating” the possibility of playing the conference’s basketball tournament at Madison Square Garden. The Big East has owned the arena in championship week since 1983, but the ACC is looking to capitalize on the shell that is the soon-to-be American Athletic Conference. The next two years of the ACC Tourney are set for Greensboro, but nothing is scheduled after that.