Posted: 11:37 am Tuesday, January 28th, 2014

ACC (and ESPN) could be headed for nine-game schedule 

By Ken Sugiura

If a nine-game ACC schedule comes to pass, it may not happen for reasons of schedule balance or to satiate fans’ desire to see more cross-divisional teams. Naturally, the impetus could be ESPN.

At the board of trustees meeting for the Georgia Tech Athletic Association last Thursday, athletic director Mike Bobinski shared an update about scheduling discussions among officials at the ACC member schools and brought up ESPN’s possible influence.

At the conference’s meetings this week, the conference and ESPN are expected to have an update on where things stand in regards to a possible ACC channel. Should it go forward, Bobinski said, ESPN will likely want more “inventory” to put on the channel, meaning an additional conference game.

“It wouldn’t be the worst thing to have an additional ACC game as opposed to hunting around the country” for a non-conference game, Bobinski said. (Rather coincidentally, or perhaps not at all, Bobinski made the comment on the same day that Tulane officials informed Tech that they wanted to cancel their four-game series before reversing course the next day.)

There has been considerable pushback against a ninth game due to Notre Dame’s agreement to play five ACC opponents annually. (The league approved a nine-game schedule in May 2012 before changing back to eight after Notre Dame was added later in the year.) Particularly for Tech, Clemson and Florida State (and possibly Louisville), which all play SEC opponents, that would mean playing nine conference games, an SEC rival and Notre Dame in the same 12-game season roughly once every three seasons.

“It’s a full plate,” Bobinski said shortly after the meeting in an interview with the AJC. “No argument.”

But, TV money may trump. The GTAA projects it will receive $22.2 million from the ACC in the 2015 fiscal year. (That’s $5.5 million more than was previously projected. The increase is due in part to the league signing its grant of rights, which was worth about $1.1 million per school from ESPN.) That is largely ESPN cash. That number would increase in the future if plans for an ACC network are realized.

“I don’t know that there will be ultimately a lot of decision making to go into that,” Bobinski said, referring to the nine-game possibility. “I think it’ll be something that we’ll need to do to find a way to do as a league, and that’s a way to do it.”

It follows comments made by commissioner John Swofford that league and school officials have been looking at how often conference teams play the teams in the opposite divisions. He also raised the possibility of not requiring teams to play every opponent in their division or allowing teams in the same division to play for the ACC championship.

In December, the Associated Press reported that Syracuse athletic director Daryl Gross sent letters to his colleagues suggesting a nine-game schedule in part so schools in smaller markets (like Syracuse) can make more visits to schools in bigger markets like Boston College, Tech and Miami. He also suggested being more “creative” with the league’s permanent cross-division partners, like Tech and Clemson. Currently, cross-division teams face each other twice in a 12-year cycle.

It feels like something is coming. And, if ESPN has its say, nine-game league schedules could be part of it. For fans, at least, that wouldn’t be a bad thing.

68 comments
superfan57
superfan57

The simple solution is to add a thirteenth OOC game as the final game of the season, the cupcakes scheduled to play the conference champion contenders will play each other or simply collect a check; all the cupcakes get a payday, existing traditional rivalries are protected, all concerned ( media, brand marketers, sponsors, vendors, etc etc) see increase revenues.

After all it is all about the money$$$'

uproar84
uproar84

How can you say that a 9th conference game "wouldn't be a bad thing" for fans?  It would be an awful thing. 

Nearly every big-conference school "needs" a 7th home game.  So, the games against the likes of Georgia State and S.C. State wouldn't be eliminated.  Instead, it'll be the big out-of-conference home-and-home that is sacrificed-- one of the great things about college football that fans actually look forward to, dying along with a lot of other things thanks to the almighty dollar. 

A.C.C. football is dull enough.  One of the few exciting games on the schedule is the home-and-home against another big-time opponent that you don't play every year.  With schools like Clemson, Georgia Tech, and FSU already locked in with S.E.C. rivals, that eliminates the other "big game".

Adding a 9th game does nothing for the fans, it just adds a little more money to the stockpile.  It's a shame.

BigTimeTECHFan
BigTimeTECHFan

I would like:

Navy and Notre Dame would join ACC

1 out of Conf opponent for every team to start season

9 Conf games

Out of Conf rival week to end season


ESPN contract trashed, and ACC goes with Fox Sports. 

Each ACC team has 3 teams they play every year and Tech's 3 would be Clemson, FSU, and Miami.


GTMan1949
GTMan1949

  Drop UGa, we cant beat them, even when they spot us a 20 point lead

GTBee
GTBee

$22+ Million seems like plenty to buy out Johnson.   But him out now.  The money will come.  Seems like the 9 game schedule is a new start - we need a new start at coach.

MikeBanning
MikeBanning

If you are going to go to 9 conference and create a bunch of difficulties in scheduling, you might as well do 10 conference games and make it easier to implement and then Teams in conferences with 14+ teams will be more likely to  play each conf. member during a FB player's career.

Those OoC games aren't used for anything meaningful anyway, cut the OoC games down to 2 and then use 1 of them for a Rival and the other for a cupcake.

Yellerbug
Yellerbug

The NC will probably expand to an 8-team play-off with the 5 Power conferences sending their champion and 3 at-large bids to come from the other conferences, independents, or Alabama if it fails to win the SEC (sarcasm intended).  That could mean 16 games for a team---can't see it going past that.  Some consideration must given to conferences that have a  championship game---so the optimal would be for the power conferences who have a championship game get an auto-bid (currently 4 conferences) and then 8 teams are chosen to do a play-in game for the other 4 slots. Thus the final 8 teams will all have played 13 games.


ND may hold out to be one of the independents to receive an at-large bid as they are always overvalued/over-ranked. Hopefully ND will fully join the ACC and we get a 16th team to make a super conference. If this happens the ACC should go to a quad alignment---4 divisions of 4 teams each where you always play your 3 division teams and then match up with another division that rotates and have an 8th & 9th game in a 3rd division.  Thus the southern division of GT, UM, FSU and Clemson, the east-division of UNC, WF, NCSU, and Duke, the West of VT, UVA, Louisville, and Navy (or whomever) and a North division of ND, Pitt, BC and SU which include 2 of ND's rivals.  This concentrates rivalries and has a better rotation of playing other teams. Thus in seasons 1&2  GT plays home-home FSU, UM, and Clemson and perhaps the east division (UNC, NCSU, Duke, WF) and then 2 teams in the West division (9 conference games). Then seasons 3&4 they play the North Division home-home and the other 2 teams in the West so every 4 years, you will play everyone in the conference at least twice. With 9 conference games---the year we have 4 home games we have UGA home giving you 5 home games and then you can do 1 home and home with another big name school and 1 Div II team always at home giving you 7 home games every other year and 6 home games in the off year.


Seriously, do you not think this would drive ticket sales---all the Carolina schools are divisional rivals, GT is matched against UM, FSU, and Clemson every year, the northern schools are all rivals BC, Pitt, Syracuse, and ND, the Louisville-VT game every year, etc.  This would be a fan favorite. In the above example here's 2 sample schedules for year's 1 & 4

Year 1               Year 4

Elon*                  Wofford*

UNC*                  Pitt

WF                    BC*

UM                   UM*

NCSU*               ND*

FSU*                 FSU

Duke               Syracuse

Tulane*            Vanderbilt

Clemson         Clemson*

VT*                   Louisville*

Navy               UVA

UGA*              UGA

*denotes HOME game

How's having UNC, NCSU, FSU, VT and UGA as 5 quality home games. How about UM, ND, Clemson and Louisville another year.  Heck even if we suck at playing football, we'll see some good teams!  I hope this is where the ACC is trying to go.



Burdell1990
Burdell1990

What is the possibility of ND "going all in" once the NBC contract expires?  Is that the real reason they joined in every sport except football?

Caius
Caius

Great idea.  But would need to move UGA game to first 3 in the season.  Playing a non conference game in November when conference standings for playoffs are finalized is just plain dumb.


leefrommeeks
leefrommeeks

Time to drop UGA unless they want to join the ACC!

KenAJC
KenAJC moderator

MarylandJacket - good idea, but that doesn't seem feasible to me. Imagine Tech losing the Coastal at 7-2 with a loss to a top-10 Notre Dame team while 7-1 Virginia Tech (with a loss to Tech) goes to the title game.

AJ - this is a part of the Q&A with Bobinski that I had to leave out (but I'll try to run back if there's interest). He thinks Notre Dame could come calling if they realize they have limited (or not enough) access to the playoff as an independent.

GTBob
GTBob

@Birminham__Jacket You want to quit scheduling the FCS teams, putting ourselves at a disadvantage vs our competition and removing a home game? I would be fine with it if everyone else was doing it. I don't want to be the only team making that move. I wish the NCAA would bring back the old rule that FCS games only count towards bowl eligibility every few years.

GTMan1949
GTMan1949

 Cant do it, it helps PJ's winning percentage at GT, so his admirers can state that he has a better winning percentage since Bobby Dodd and puts us in a bowl each season.

D-Sheets
D-Sheets

@GTMan1949

GT can't drop UGA.  B/c as much as UGA fans will have you believe the game doesn't matter, it does.  It really does.  

Most years GT is an automatic W for UGA, which helps UGA's bowl eligibility, GT being a FBS, BCS-conference team and all.  

GT is the perfect OOC team for a UGA.   Believe me, UF & SC would sure like to have a GT-level team to replace FSU & Clemson (even though SC has been quite successful vs Clemson recently). 

GTMan1949
GTMan1949

 100 % agreement here GTBee

GTBob
GTBob

@GTBee I nominate you as the next accountant for the Athletic Association.

GTBob
GTBob

@MikeBanning Most teams in the country, especially the factories, depend on 7 game home schedules in their budget. What you are proposing would cost teams like Clemson and FSU millions. Not to mention it would kill the prospect of early season event games like the Chick Fil A kickoff.

GTMan1949
GTMan1949

 I doubt if Navy will ever schedule us again after 2001 when GT ran it up 70-7. There should have been more knees taken against the young men that protect us. Keep Woffod and Elon, it helps PJ's win production

GTBob
GTBob

@Burdell1990 Notre Dame's NBC contract doesn't expire until 2025. Many things will change by then and I would guess Notre Dame's hand will be forced by then.

Burdell1990
Burdell1990

@collegeballfan There is no way you get rid of the Mutts...tradition holds this one, especially the Sat after Tday.  

gt-40
gt-40

@leefrommeeks


Too many Tech fans circle this game on the calendar every year, it would pain me to drop it...

We just have to show up and say...Thank you sir may I have another, until we man up and beat them...... one can dream.....................

GTBob
GTBob

@leefrommeeks When the ACC and SEC both go to 9 game schedules, there is a decent chance the UGA/GT game ends.

GTAlum
GTAlum

@KenAJC How is that any different than Tech losing the division to VT with a loss to Clemson when VT has BC as its permanent rival?  Or if one season Tech had to play Clemson, FSU and Louisville when VT played BC, 'Cuse and WF?  These inequities are an inevitable consequence of being too big to play a full round robin.

AugustaJacket
AugustaJacket

@KenAJC They're going to get hammered by the committee.  There's been plenty of comments already from members of the committee stating that preference will go to conference champions.  Imagine a 10-2 or 11-1 ND team watching other 10-2 and 11-1 conference champions in the playoffs.  It won't take long before they realize that they could be virtually guaranteed a spot by winning the ACC.  


Also, if the ACC adds Navy, (great academic fit and solid overall football program), then ND would keep one of its historic rivalries as a conference game, allowing it to use its 3 OOC games for teams like USC, Stanford, etc...  (Besides, of the other 16th team options, UCF, UConn and Cincinnati, none of them fit the academic profile the ACC strives for.  Although, an exception was made for Louisville...)


I am interested to know MBob's thoughts on it.

SupersizeThatOrder-mutt
SupersizeThatOrder-mutt

@KenAJCSince many of us don't subscribe to MyAJC, any tidbits from your interview with MBob that you can post on the "regular" blogs would be appreciated.

Birmingham__Jacket
Birmingham__Jacket

@GTBob @Birminham__Jacket 


I went to the Bama A&M game--- part of it.  I think we held them to near 0 yds of offense almost the entire first half!!!  OUR DEFENSE.  Wow!


I must admit.  The experiment was somewhat interesting in this regard.  Prior to that game I would have seriously considered that a really, really good high school team could keep it kind of close with us.  After that game, not so much.


I'd like to see a similar experiment sometime, and have a terrible NFL team like Jax play FSU or BAMA.

SupersizeThatOrder-mutt
SupersizeThatOrder-mutt

@GTMan1949 

Did you not read the article last week that was posted when Tulane initially cancelled the series with Tech. Other than the A&M game, which was a last minute addition, the current schedules were made in 2007 when Gailey was coach.  Whom we have played under Johnson was not determined by or for him.  We get it:  you don't like Johnson, but at least don't make up crap to justify your opinion.

MikeBanning
MikeBanning

@GTBob @MikeBanning 

If every BCS level team gets rid of 2 cupcakes off of their schedule the numbers of good games will increase so much we won't even miss those games.

Each team will still have 2 OoC games to play with, anything more than 2 OoC games and the ADs ans HCs  abuse them to play cupcakes to water down the schedule.

GTBob
GTBob

@Burdell1990 @collegeballfan If we were smart we would. It's not going to happen though. We seem pretty content ending every season with an OOC loss when we should be playing an ACC game. All in the name of meaningless tradition.

GTMan1949
GTMan1949

 Hope so, its an automatic win for UGa.

GTAlum
GTAlum

@AugustaJacket @KenAJC What are you looking at as far as academic profile?  Given, this isn't the final word, but for a quick and dirty reference I looked at the US News rankings, and UConn ranks higher than Clemson, VT, FSU, Maryland, Syracuse, Pitt, much less NC State and Louisville.

D-Sheets
D-Sheets

@Birminham__Jacket

B-ham, if you really think that worst NFL team would play close with a  college team then you have absolutely zero football knowledge.  


But I digress b/c I know you were just kidding, right....? 

BleedingGold
BleedingGold

@Birminham__Jacket The Jacksonville Jaguars would run up the score on both of those teams.  Your talking about a roster full of NFL players going up against a collegiate team with maybe 10 guys that could make it to the NFL.  Your football logic is wayyyyyyyy off if you'd actually want to see that matchup.

GTBob
GTBob

@MikeBanning @GTBob How much money do you think Alabama makes for a home game? Now ask them to take away one game every other year for no real good reason. Do you really think they are going to oblige?

MikeBanning
MikeBanning

@GTBob @MikeBanning 

It'll only be 6 home game every other year if they schedule it correctly.

5 home conf. games.

1 cupcake each year

1 rival every other year, or another cupcake if your rival is in conf., or a Home-n-Home with another BCS level team.

Depending on the school, it would not make any difference at all and it would be easier to schedule than it would be for 9 conf. games where some years you play 5 home Conf. games and other years you play 4 conf. home games.

GTBob
GTBob

@MikeBanning @GTBob The fans would probably love that. Unfortunately college football is just a business these days. You will have to come up with a financially justifiable reason why Alabama and FSU should play 6 home games instead of 7. It won't help them in any reasonable way to play a harder team and make less money. There are no teams in college football who actually care what their fans want. They care about their bottom line.

SupersizeThatOrder-mutt
SupersizeThatOrder-mutt

@Burdell1990@SupersizeThatOrder-mutt 

I grew up in Augusta and live there now.  I'm surprised I never heard that part of the history before.  Good to know though, since everything else in this town is about the damn mutts

GeorgeStein
GeorgeStein

@PaulinNH Ha.  I guess there's that, too, but it didn't really enter my mind.   

PaulinNH
PaulinNH

@GeorgeStein

What is it that Spurrier said about why he wanted to play UGA in the first couple of games of the season?

GTMan1949
GTMan1949

 Birmingham_Jacket,

   Beautifully stated.......

GTBob
GTBob

@Birminham__Jacket Yeah, he beat UGA three times in a row with a team full of future flunk outs who couldn't get admitted today against UGA teams who were poorly coached and fairly average overall. That brought his record against them to an impressive 3-5. O'Leary wouldn't have a chance against them if he coached at GT today.

GTBob
GTBob

@DawgnIT @GTBob @Burdell1990 @collegeballfan Because playing an OOC game that we win maybe 10% of the time is a terrible way to end our season. It hurts team momentum, fan morale in the offseason, bowl motivation, ACC reputation, and recruiting. We are going to lose to UGA either way. In my opinion it would be more advantageous to do it at the beginning of the year so the team and fans can get over it pretty quick.

Birmingham__Jacket
Birmingham__Jacket

We seem pretty content ending every season with an OOC loss when we should be playing an ACC game. All in the name of meaningless tradition.

-------------

Nope.  You keep the game, because Georgia shows us where we SHOULD be.  George O'Leary had no problem playing UGA.  Just because Gailey and Paul Johnson are too dumb to work their way around the problems and WIN, doesn't mean you drop the game. 

GeorgeStein
GeorgeStein

@DawgnIT @GTBob @Burdell1990 @collegeballfan In general I agree, except that UGA usually has significantly more depth than we do, so an earlier game might give us more of a shot (although, UGA would, presumably, have fewer injuries, too).  Whatever, I like the UGA game where it is, even if the results haven't been pleasant. 

DawgnIT
DawgnIT

@GTBob@Burdell1990@collegeballfanI still don't understand why an OOC game in November makes a bit of difference.  The game counts the same if played in September as it does in November as far as your ACC life is concerned because the UGA-Tech game doesn't matter at all for ACC play.


The only reason to move it to the beginning of the season is to get an early loss instead of a late one for bowl hype or to recover for a national championship run.  But if you're losing to UGA at any point you're probably not in the running either way.