ACC votes to stay with 8-game schedule

ACC Commissioner John Swofford chats with Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney before the annual Orange Bowl Coaches Luncheon on Friday at the Jungle Island ballroom in Miami

Photo by Mark Crammer

ACC Commissioner John Swofford chats with Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney before the annual Orange Bowl Coaches Luncheon on Friday at the Jungle Island ballroom in Miami

The ACC will remain with an eight-game football schedule, following in the footsteps of the Southeastern Conference.

ACC commissioner John Swofford announced the move Monday afternoon, which was approved by a 8-6 vote (per ESPN) along with a new clause starting in 2017.

Like the SEC, the ACC will now require every league team to play at least one game against a power league, which can include the regular rotation with Notre Dame coming on line this season. Swofford says they will keep the one cross-divisional rival format.

"Our schools discussed this at great length over the last year or two. Over the two, three sessions you could see some consistency in the discussion and where this was probably leading," Swofford told CBSSports.com's Dennis Dodd.

"Our schools in recent years have probably had the strongest non-conference schdule out there. Having Notre Dame as a part of our scheduling rotation puts us in a little different situation with the other conferences. Certainly that came into play as well."

The conference is also slated to discuss the divisional structure this week.

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Comments » 12

SlappleDapple writes:

This is a great opportunity for the ACC to set the tone for aggressive scheduling. Enough with the FCS cupcakes taking a beating for money. If SOS is going to be a major factor in playoff selection, then ACC teams should play a minimum of 10 power conference games each year. Given the public perception of ACC football, I think this may be necessary. I hope I live to see the day when the Power 5 conference play 12 games against each other.

YabbaDaboDooDoo writes:

in response to SlappleDapple:

This is a great opportunity for the ACC to set the tone for aggressive scheduling. Enough with the FCS cupcakes taking a beating for money. If SOS is going to be a major factor in playoff selection, then ACC teams should play a minimum of 10 power conference games each year. Given the public perception of ACC football, I think this may be necessary. I hope I live to see the day when the Power 5 conference play 12 games against each other.

It could've set the tone for aggressive scheduling by adding a 9th ACC game. The reason that Clemson wanted to stay with 8 games is because they want a guaranteed minimum of 7 home games every season. And the only way to guarantee 7 home games is to have to play "cupcakes" that don't require a return trip. It's all about money, particularly YOUR money.

The only way to get Clemson to stop scheduling games against cupcakes is for you to stop going and other fans to stop going. I guarantee the university would stop scheduling those games if the stadium was more than half empty. Would you trade 1 annual forgettable home game against Furman/Wofford/GAST/SCST/Citadel for a bi-annual home game against another ACC opponent or a power conference opponent? That would be an interesting poll question.

BrandonRink writes:

in response to YabbaDaboDooDoo:

It could've set the tone for aggressive scheduling by adding a 9th ACC game. The reason that Clemson wanted to stay with 8 games is because they want a guaranteed minimum of 7 home games every season. And the only way to guarantee 7 home games is to have to play "cupcakes" that don't require a return trip. It's all about money, particularly YOUR money.

The only way to get Clemson to stop scheduling games against cupcakes is for you to stop going and other fans to stop going. I guarantee the university would stop scheduling those games if the stadium was more than half empty. Would you trade 1 annual forgettable home game against Furman/Wofford/GAST/SCST/Citadel for a bi-annual home game against another ACC opponent or a power conference opponent? That would be an interesting poll question.

Without a mandate across college football to schedule so tough, it doesn't really make sense for Clemson to make it harder on themselves than other teams competing for those top-four spots in the playoff.

It's a balance. The way Clemson's scheduled of late - if they take of business in the big games, they are a title contender. They haven't. Every contender has its "cupcake" game. Between Auburn and FSU last year, the one prominent OOC game was Florida, which finished 4-8. You want the big BCS bucks? Do well enough in your conference.

The problem here is weighing every game the same. Clemson playing Georgia on the road this season is worth the SOS subtractions of a Georgia State/S.C. State in the stead of another conference game. Clemson has to play the other big ACC football school every year (FSU) and then South Carolina. Weighed against a number of teams nationally, that's just fine in terms of playoff resume.

What Clemson and Florida State know is having the flexibility to go out and schedule a big OOC game is key, but they also have to balance the schedule and get their number of home games for cash. Why would they want a conference schedule where every other year they play more road games than homes in-conference? I'd like to live in this idealistic world where everybody plays the same caliber of schedule and we know definitively the top-four teams every year, but there are far too many variables to make it a reality. You make your schedule and go out to try to win them all. The selection committee will decide if it's good enough.

YabbaDaboDooDoo writes:

in response to BrandonRink:

Without a mandate across college football to schedule so tough, it doesn't really make sense for Clemson to make it harder on themselves than other teams competing for those top-four spots in the playoff.

It's a balance. The way Clemson's scheduled of late - if they take of business in the big games, they are a title contender. They haven't. Every contender has its "cupcake" game. Between Auburn and FSU last year, the one prominent OOC game was Florida, which finished 4-8. You want the big BCS bucks? Do well enough in your conference.

The problem here is weighing every game the same. Clemson playing Georgia on the road this season is worth the SOS subtractions of a Georgia State/S.C. State in the stead of another conference game. Clemson has to play the other big ACC football school every year (FSU) and then South Carolina. Weighed against a number of teams nationally, that's just fine in terms of playoff resume.

What Clemson and Florida State know is having the flexibility to go out and schedule a big OOC game is key, but they also have to balance the schedule and get their number of home games for cash. Why would they want a conference schedule where every other year they play more road games than homes in-conference? I'd like to live in this idealistic world where everybody plays the same caliber of schedule and we know definitively the top-four teams every year, but there are far too many variables to make it a reality. You make your schedule and go out to try to win them all. The selection committee will decide if it's good enough.

Clemson has 3 games that you call big games. I would call them the only football games on their schedule that should even be competitive. When it comes to football, FSU and Clemson outpace the rest of the conference in terms of fan support, resources, and overall commitment... by far. Those are the only 2 schools making the sort of commitment necessary to building a nationally competitive program. Maybe you see a coastal school crack the bottom of the top 25 but that's it. And therein lies the problem for FSU and Clemson. Clemson has to win the big games as you pointed out, hope that those 3 teams have good seasons, AND hope that the favorites in the other conferences stumble since Clemson is dealing with a schedule strength disadvantage. Kicking Furman off your schedule and playing another coastal ACC opponent only helps your strength of schedule.

We can all cry a river about the number of home games but Texas often plays only 6 home games in a season. They're doing just fine financially. They also usually play 2 decent non-conference opponents and 1 "cupcake". They're the model for how to run an athletic department. They've got the TV deal and printing money and we all have to sit and listen to Clemson people whine about gate receipts like it's still 1981. The reality is that if it comes down to Texas and Clemson with identical records for a playoff spot, the smart money is on the committee to pick Texas b/c they'll have played the tougher schedule.

There's 5 conferences and only 4 playoff spots. At least 1 power conference champion is going to be left out. And depending on how the SEC goes, it's possible that the SEC gets 2 teams in a playoff. This was supposedly the season of parity in the SEC and they still put a team in the title game and had 4 teams ahead of Clemson in the AP. Right now, the SEC is playing the best football followed by the PAC 12 and Big12. The ACC outside of Clemson and FSU is pretty awful. So who gets left out if there's a decision to be made between an ACC champion and a PAC12 champ, BIG12 champ, or SEC runner-up with identical records? Clemson should remember where they were on this 8-6 vote if they get squeezed out of a playoff by a team with the same record.

You used the example of 4-8 Florida as the toughest OOC opponent. But 5 of Auburn's 12 regular season games were against ranked opponents. And then they get #5 Mizzou in the SEC championship game. Auburn doesn't need to schedule anyone OOC. Clemson doesn't have that luxury. The BIG12, BIG10, and PAC12 are going to 9-game schedules. The SEC is staying at 8 b/c it doesn't NEED to go to 9. The ACC may have made the same decision as the SEC but they're living in a different reality.

BrandonRink writes:

You're focusing on Auburn, which is OK, but FSU made the title game and won it by playing Nevada, Bethune-Cookman, Idaho and Florida OOC. They made the title game with ease. There is no motivation for Clemson or FSU to change their scheduling practices. If FSU can do that and make a two-team playoff, they can make a four-team playoff. Right?

Just like they would have last season in a two-team format, Clemson takes care of the games they should and wins the big games and they will make that final four. Clemson's conference hasn't held them back yet and in a more inclusive (by two teams) system it doesn't lend to that really shifting dramatically.

As an aside, if Clemson does end up suffering from not moving to the nine-game they can pursue some more strong OOC games. But you realize the irony of expecting a SOS boost by an extra game with a "pretty awful," "ACC outside of Clemson and FSU"? Clemson is already going to be playing FSU, Louisville and Georgia Tech every year. They make the title game and they play the best the Coastal has to offer. I just don't see it as something to really get worked up over from a Clemson perspective or an outsider's. Each team has its path to the playoff and it's hard to compare conference to conference how exactly that unfolds.

TigerFan95 writes:

in response to BrandonRink:

Without a mandate across college football to schedule so tough, it doesn't really make sense for Clemson to make it harder on themselves than other teams competing for those top-four spots in the playoff.

It's a balance. The way Clemson's scheduled of late - if they take of business in the big games, they are a title contender. They haven't. Every contender has its "cupcake" game. Between Auburn and FSU last year, the one prominent OOC game was Florida, which finished 4-8. You want the big BCS bucks? Do well enough in your conference.

The problem here is weighing every game the same. Clemson playing Georgia on the road this season is worth the SOS subtractions of a Georgia State/S.C. State in the stead of another conference game. Clemson has to play the other big ACC football school every year (FSU) and then South Carolina. Weighed against a number of teams nationally, that's just fine in terms of playoff resume.

What Clemson and Florida State know is having the flexibility to go out and schedule a big OOC game is key, but they also have to balance the schedule and get their number of home games for cash. Why would they want a conference schedule where every other year they play more road games than homes in-conference? I'd like to live in this idealistic world where everybody plays the same caliber of schedule and we know definitively the top-four teams every year, but there are far too many variables to make it a reality. You make your schedule and go out to try to win them all. The selection committee will decide if it's good enough.

Brandon,

Does the vote yesterday have any affect on how the 8 conference games will be scheduled? I really like the 3-5 format I've heard thrown around. Would this vote nix that idea?

BrandonRink writes:

in response to TigerFan95:

Brandon,

Does the vote yesterday have any affect on how the 8 conference games will be scheduled? I really like the 3-5 format I've heard thrown around. Would this vote nix that idea?

I think they are still waiting on the NCAA to make a ruling on the changing of the divisional/championship game rules (at least 12 teams, even divisions). As long as they are in place, something like the 3-5 format can't happen. If anything, the vote shows they are still looking at options like that because it seems pretty universal among ACC ADs and coaches that the 6-1-1 eight-game model has its flaws with a 14-team league.

TigerFan95 writes:

in response to BrandonRink:

I think they are still waiting on the NCAA to make a ruling on the changing of the divisional/championship game rules (at least 12 teams, even divisions). As long as they are in place, something like the 3-5 format can't happen. If anything, the vote shows they are still looking at options like that because it seems pretty universal among ACC ADs and coaches that the 6-1-1 eight-game model has its flaws with a 14-team league.

Thanks Brandon,

It’s my opinion that the best way to build our conference’s reputation is to have our best teams play each other more often. It draws more TV interest, sells more tickets, and builds better rivalries. The 3-5 format does that by guaranteeing we play every team in our conference at least twice every four years, and if the 3 & 5 team groups are set-up right we would play a team like Miami or VT every year in addition to our biggest conference rivals FSU, GT & NC St. I just hope the NCAA wises-up and votes to allow this change, and does it soon.

clemvol writes:

If ANY Division I team wants to continue to schedule "teams" where they won't hurt themselves ( FCS schools ) then do continue. I suggest you don't count these in the Win/Lost column and you don't beat your chest and say "look at how many games we won this year.

YabbaDaboDooDoo writes:

in response to BrandonRink:

You're focusing on Auburn, which is OK, but FSU made the title game and won it by playing Nevada, Bethune-Cookman, Idaho and Florida OOC. They made the title game with ease. There is no motivation for Clemson or FSU to change their scheduling practices. If FSU can do that and make a two-team playoff, they can make a four-team playoff. Right?

Just like they would have last season in a two-team format, Clemson takes care of the games they should and wins the big games and they will make that final four. Clemson's conference hasn't held them back yet and in a more inclusive (by two teams) system it doesn't lend to that really shifting dramatically.

As an aside, if Clemson does end up suffering from not moving to the nine-game they can pursue some more strong OOC games. But you realize the irony of expecting a SOS boost by an extra game with a "pretty awful," "ACC outside of Clemson and FSU"? Clemson is already going to be playing FSU, Louisville and Georgia Tech every year. They make the title game and they play the best the Coastal has to offer. I just don't see it as something to really get worked up over from a Clemson perspective or an outsider's. Each team has its path to the playoff and it's hard to compare conference to conference how exactly that unfolds.

FSU didn't make the title game with ease. They made it through their SCHEDULE with ease. If they had dropped just 1 game by just 1 point they would have had zero shot at the national championship. It would've been Iron Bowl II. And what would've happened in a 4-team playoff this season with a 1-loss FSU? Alabama and Auburn would've been in along with Michigan State. Baylor was the other 1-loss team at the time but they were thrashed at OKST. So now you have a 1-loss FSU who even you admit had a weak schedule and a 2-loss Stanford team that had 7 (SEVEN!) wins over ranked teams vying for a 4th playoff spot. FSU may get the 4th spot but not with ease. The Big12, Big10, and Pac12 are all going to 9 games. The SEC stayed at 8 b/c they've got the toughest conference schedule by far. They don't need to go to 9. The ACC is the only power conference behind the times. I believe this is narrow-minded thinking by Clemson and FSU. They NEED traditional powers like VT to be good in order to raise the profile of the conference for playoff consideration. And that's never going to happen if they're playing in Wallace-Wade every other year and Doak-Campbell and Death Valley once a decade. Playing every team more often is better for TV, it's better for recruiting, and it increases competition which makes the conference better. We can talk about this 3x5 format all we want but it doesn't happen unless the NCAA makes a change. And change takes forever with the NCAA.

I get what you're trying to say by expecting a strength of schedule boost with an awful ACC team. But it is in fact a strength of schedule boost to replace the Citadel with UVa. Your defense of an 8-game schedule is centered around making a playoff. I don't see how anyone can say "our best shot at making a playoff is continuing to play home games against the Citadel". Whether you're playing UVa or the Citadel, the risk of losing is still small so it makes more sense to play the team that helps to make the best case for a playoff. You're counting on GT and Louisville to be good. 6-7, 8-5, 7-7, and 7-6 is what GT is now. They play in the weak Coastal division and are just good enough to be bowl-eligible. Who knows how good Louisville is going to be? They could continue to do well or they can do what other schools with that level of commitment of football have done when entering the ACC (Miami and VT): fall back to the middle. I see Louisville having about the same level of success in the ACC on average as NC State.

Clemson has essentially made itself a 3-game schedule and that's all it's going to have to make a case to a playoff committee. The perception is already out there that staying at 8 is ducking your own conference. Clemson has probably painted itself into a situation where it's a perfect season or bust to make a playoff.

YabbaDaboDooDoo writes:

Brandon, if you look at the first comment, this all started with fans who are tired of seeing Clemson put a bad product on the field. Going to a football game, college or pro, is entertainment. And there's competition for a person's entertainment dollars. No team has any business playing a Citadel team that they could beat by at least 4 TDs with the 1st string offense and defense in street clothes. That's not quality entertainment. The NFL has every sport beat by a mile when it comes to money and eyeballs b/c they figured out long ago that people like to watch competitive games and there's no league that's more competitive than the NFL. College fans get bullied into "supporting their school" and "being true fans" to go to awful games when the school is putting on the game for no other reason than to take their cash. No one expects people to support the local movie theater if they don't show any good movies. Why should people be expected to drop way more cash to go watch what they know will be a horrible football game?

My point to that fan and any fan who feels the same way is that they shouldn't go to home games against the Citadel if they want Clemson to schedule better competition. Vote with your wallet and your feet. Don't be sheeple. 70k+ people go watch the Citadel and how many of them are wishing they were watching a better football game? If you want Clemson to schedule better, stop going to those games. Otherwise, you can't complain.

YabbaDaboDooDoo writes:

Now the ACC is ready to schedule non-conference games against itself. And the 2 schools in BCS bowls this year, FSU and Clemson, are BOTH convinced that the path to a playoff runs through the Citadel (Clemson in 2013 and FSU now in 2014). So the weaker Coastal division wants FSU and Clemson more often and FSU and Clemson would rather play the Citadel. Yeah, this scheduling thing isn't out of control at all.

http://espn.go.com/college-football/s...

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