After Florida State announced it was replacing West Virginia with Savannah State for its previously scheduled September 8 date with the Mountaineers, many thought the ACC schedule would be released "shortly." Not so fast, says Georgia Tech, who is still trying to reshuffle the schedule thanks to agreeing to travel to Blacksburg on Labor Day weekend.
"Tech was scheduled to play Middle Tennessee State on Sept. 8. However, with a short week of preparation following the Sept. 3 game in Blacksburg, Va., the school preferred to face an FCS opponent. Coach Paul Johnson is undoubtedly cognizant of Virginia Tech's 2010 loss, five days after losing to Boise State on Labor Day, to James Madison.
However, with the rest of the ACC's schedule virtually locked into place, and many other conferences' schedules completed, Tech's options were limited."
Unfortunately, this is what happens when the conference prioritizes scheduling non-conference matchups before determining the conference schedule. This provides ACC programs maximum flexibility to play programs like Notre Dame in mid-October but causes an unnecessary scheduling headache for the league office.
This is backwards. The conference should be primarily focused on maximizing its own TV inventory (i.e. setting the conference schedule) before worrying about slotting Notre Dame onto the schedules of BC, Pitt, Miami and Wake Forest.
As a reminder, a simple scheduling philosophy change could ease the current constraints on creating the schedule and many of these headaches. A blueprint for how to get things done comes to us care of the Big Ten. Check out the timing of this year's Big Ten's non-conference football schedule:
Weekend of 9/1 -- 12 non-conference games
9/8 -- 12 non-conference games
9/15 -- 12 non-conference games
9/22 -- 9 non-conference games
That's 45 of 48 non-conference games played over the first four weekends of the season, one on 9/29 (Purdue-Marshall), one on 10/20 (Indiana-Navy) and one game and date T.B.A. (Nebraska). All Big Ten programs have non-conference games in each of the first three weeks of the season.
This is how you schedule non-conference college football games.
The ACC's member programs should give up some non-conference scheduling flexibility in favor of designating specific weekends for playing non-conference games. It's a model that works well for the Big Ten and the Pac-12, and one that could dramatically cut down on these scheduling delays and last-minute deals that can prove costly for teams.
It will become even more important to prioritize setting the conference schedule first, non-conference schedule second when Pittsburgh and Syracuse join the fold and the conference moves to a 9-game conference schedule. Either the first three weekends of the season or the first two and the last (for ACC-SEC and other rivalry games). Either way. Make it happen, ACC.