This week, the ACC announced it will not play nine conference games but instead to remain at eight games while requiring one non-conference game against a fellow Power Five opponent. It's the exact same initiative the SEC announced earlier this spring and, despite the outcry from many in college football, it's a fine plan.
Not every school schedules in hopes of winning a national championship. Just as many teams are gunning for six wins and a spot in a bowl - any bowl - than 12 wins and a spot in the College Football Playoff. And, as Andy Staples pointed out yesterday, a Clemson schedule with eight ACC games and non-conference games against Georgia and South Carolina is a stronger slate than nine ACC games and only South Carolina in non-conference play. Considering Florida State plays Florida, Clemson plays South Carolina and Virginia Tech's long history of strong non-conference scheduling (recent non-conference games with Nebraska, Alabama, LSU, as well as a home-and-home series against Ohio State) with a conference championship game on top of that, the ACC should not be accused of shortcutting its way into the Playoff.
But Tuesday, the Great College Football Scheduling Debate took a turn toward the weird and downright funny. Word out of both conference's meetings stated that both the ACC and Big Ten are considering playing non-conference games against teams from their own leagues. ACC vs. ACC. Big Ten vs. Big Ten.
"I think all the coaches felt like playing each other more, if there was a model for that, we'd be open to it," NC State head coach Dave Doeren told ESPN.com. "They are going to allow us to use that plus-one game in the conference as a nonconference game so that will be interesting to see where it goes. When we don't have to play Notre Dame, playing Duke or Virginia or somebody from the Coastal that we don't play will be a discussion we want to have."
The ACC, a conference that voted down the possibility of nine conference games, may soon play eight conference games plus a non-conference game against another ACC school, thereby playing nine games against conference opponents. That's just hilarious.
The Big Ten's thinking is clear. The BTN has driven the conference's thinking since its 2007 launch, first with the addition of Nebraska, then the eastern expansion with Rutgers and Maryland, then the announcement of a new satellite office in New York, and then with the creation of a basketball series with the Big East (to be televised on Fox Sports 1 and BTN). The Big Ten will play nine conference games beginning in 2016 - in part because it wanted more valuable inventory on BTN - and a tenth game would be even more content for the network.
To be fair, this discussion is likely (hopefully) only as a fail safe plan in the event that Big Ten or ACC schools aren't able to line up a Power Five non-conference opponent.
Here's a mind-blowing idea. Instead of Florida State playing Virginia and Michigan playing Illinois, what if Florida State plays Michigan and Virginia plays Illinois?