ACC Football: The 9-Game Schedule Is a Necessary Evil That Will Hurt Scheduling

Michael FelderNational CFB Lead WriterJuly 19, 2012

GAINESVILLE, FL - NOVEMBER 26:  NCAA referee Matt Moore separates running back Chris Rainey #1 of the Florida Gators and defensive tackle Timmy Jerrigan #8 of the Florida State Seminoles November 26, 2011 at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Florida.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

Monday, the folks at The Post-Standard reported on the Syracuse Orange moving to the ACC in 2013 after reaching a settlement with the Big East. Wednesday, the Tribune-Review announced that the Pitt Panthers would be following the Orange into the ACC by agreeing to pay the same $7.5 million exit fee to the Big East.

The ACC is now at 14 members for 2013, and with 14 members comes the nine-game conference schedule.

Commissioner John Swofford, as CBS Sports reported in May, has already knocked out a plan of action for the nine-game schedule with Pitt and 'Cuse joining up a year early. The Atlantic Division will be playing the five home games to kick things off, while the Coastal Division gets five home games in 2014, year two of the 14-team league.

The ACC is a conference that has afforded its members tremendous flexibility in scheduling for the non-conference slate.

Wake Forest, Maryland and Boston College all played Notre Dame late in the season—the conference worked around it. Georgia Tech, Clemson and Florida State all play SEC teams in their season finales—the conference worked around it. Georgia Tech has BYU coming to town in late October to play a nationally televised game—the conference worked its schedule around it.

Now, with nine games on the slate, the league is going to have a hard time making all the teams' scheduling demands come to fruition.

The college football season is 14 weeks long. For a league like the Big 12, without a conference title game, that means the teams have 14 weeks to play 12 games. For the ACC, that means 13 weeks to play its 12 contests.

With nine weeks of conference games, that leaves just three weeks to play non-conference opponents, and trying to organize that schedule is going to be a bear for the league office.

We've already seen one casualty of the nine-game schedule: the Pac-12 and Big Ten scheduling agreement. The Pac-12 wants to keep its options open for scheduling, and having a game hammered down with the Big Ten would limit those options.

Meanwhile, the Big Ten, with its eight-game conference schedule, had a little more wiggle room where scheduling was concerned. 

The ACC is losing that wiggle room by moving to nine games. Syncing 14 teams for nine games as they try to play other quality opponents is going to be a bear.

The inventory for the ACC, from a television perspective, should be improved, as there are more meaningful games in the conference race. However, we'll see how much it costs teams' future schedules as the plan goes into action.