The ACC announced Monday that it would be keeping its eight-game conference schedule—the same schedule the SEC chose to keep a couple of weeks ago—instead of opting into the nine-game schedule preferred by the Big Ten, Big 12 and Pac-12.
Per Dan Wolken of USA Today:
BREAKING: ACC remaining at 8 game schedule, but must play another power league game starting in 2017, per John Swofford— Dan Wolken (@DanWolken) May 12, 2014
Also in the same vein as the SEC, the ACC announced that starting in 2017, its teams would be required to schedule at least one non-conference game against an opponent from a power conference.
Notre Dame, which is currently participating as a partial ACC member, would count as one of those games, but it has yet to be determined if the other FBS Independents—BYU, Army and Navy—would as well, per Wolken and Brett McMurphy of ESPN.com:
BTW, Notre Dame will count toward that requirement— Dan Wolken (@DanWolken) May 12, 2014
ACC’s Swofford said it hasn’t been determined if BYU, Army, Navy count as non-conference Power 5 opponent— Brett McMurphy (@McMurphyESPN) May 12, 2014
And even further in the same vein as the SEC, the ACC will keep its current divisions and maintain its permanent cross-division rivalries, per Sam Werner of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
Swofford said ACC will keep current divisions and permanent crossover opponent.— Sam Werner (@SWernerPG) May 12, 2014
Werner also reports that the news is not yet official. The conference athletic directors have merely "recommended" that the schedule stay at eight games, and though they still need to vote on Thursday, that action is merely a formality:
Officially, ADs "recommended" keeping schedule at eight games. Faculty reps will vote to make it official Thursday. Just a formality.— Sam Werner (@SWernerPG) May 12, 2014
Scheduling is a hot topic in college football right now—and with good reason. No one is exactly sure how the new College Football Playoff will work, what the selection committee will value, et cetera.
Because of that nebulosity, a cynical mind might say the SEC and ACC are trying to gain an advantage by keeping their conference slates at eight games. Even with the mandate to play at least one power conference opponent, non-conference games are traditionally far easier than conference games. Playing more of them should help ensure better records throughout the league.
Tyler Duffy of The Big Lead helps break down why this matters:
6 ACC teams finished above .500 in conference last year. 11 teams finished with 7 or more wins. The 8-game schedule difference.— Tyler Duffy (@tyduffy) May 12, 2014
There are arguments to be made for keeping the eight-game schedule—the preservation of cross-division rivalries comes to mind—but for the most part, less conference games means less quality opponents, and less quality opponents means less quality games on TV.
And who in their right mind wants that?
Follow Brian Leigh on Twitter: @BLeighDAT