After many months of discussions to the contrary, ACC athletics directors voted on Wednesday to continue their current scheduling model calling for eight conference games and one non-conference game versus a Power 5 opponent.
— ACC Football (@theACCfootball) October 5, 2016
ACC schools will each receive $500K less per year in TV revenue by staying at 8 league games industry sources said https://t.co/EESXagX06j
— Brett McMurphy (@McMurphyESPN) October 6, 2016
The conference spent months considering 8+2 and 9+1 models at the request of ESPN — who, as we remember, is set to pay the conference hundreds of millions for the ACC Network. The conference has already agreed to bump its conference basketball schedule from 18 to 20 games at the launch of the network later this decade.
But altering the football schedule isn’t as simple as doing the same for basketball.
There is the matter of Florida State, Georgia Tech, Clemson and Louisville playing annual rivalry games with non-conference opponents. To their credit, those schools have never used their annual games as forcefields; Florida State played Ole Miss in addition to Florida this season, and opens 2017 with Alabama.
There is the Notre Dame factor, who plays five games a year against ACC foes. The Big 12, Big Ten and Pac-12 each play 9-game conference schedules now, making an 8+2 model less realistic. And a 9+1 model makes coaches’ and ADs’ jobs more difficult by spreading seven guaranteed losses across the league and requiring five conference road games every other year.
But while an 8-game schedule in a 14-team league is better for those inside the conference, it’s worse for those on the outside. North Carolina and Wake Forest, located just 75 miles apart and annual opponents from 1908 through expansion, recently scheduled a non-conference home-and-home after multiple rounds of expansion essentially divorced them while still living under the same proverbial roof.