As the launch of the cooperative (see 'strongarm') effort between ESPN and the conference around the launch of the ACC television network in 2019, the Athletic Directors of the member institutions met yesterday and today in Chapel Hill with the biggest discussion point expected to be football scheduling.
ESPN's take has been very clear on this, they need and want more quality programming in terms of games to air on the network and too many barn burners like BC-Wagner or Clemson-South Carolina State, etc. aren't their idea on how to have their new child thrive.
Basketball has already stated that they will move to a 20 game conference schedule (up from 18) in 2019.
It appears that the two paths being discussed are either moving to a nine game conference schedule as is being done with the PAC12 and Big Ten, while keeping the mandate for one non conference game to be with a power five opponent, or keep the eight game league schedule and mandate two power five games.
There is a renewed push to maintain the status quo of "8+1" which would be really the worst of both worlds. Let's hope that effort fails - though the bias is always strong toward status quo.
I haven't seen in either case where the move to nine league games or the two power five games includes eliminating the dreaded FCS game.
On the surface, either direction the conference takes will be an improvement, but dependent on who you are, the ramifications of the decision could be very different.
For schools like Clemson, Florida State, Louisville and Georgia Tech, who already include a yearly game against an SEC opponent as part of their schedule, adding a required second power five game, is definitely something they will oppose. While based on the current landscape of the conference, adding a conference game when you are in the Coastal Division and could potentially draw the Tigers, Noles or Cardinals may not sit too well either, although those situations tend to be fluid and shift over the years. Take the SEC of the 90s where the power all sat in the East as opposed to where we are today.
In general, for most schools, this becomes a zero sum game. Unless you are at the top or the bottom of the food chain you are likely to win roughly 50% of the games regardless of the direction you go. The biggest advantage you have with the 8+2 model is controlling who those games are against. As we've seen with BC, the current power five teams are more toward the top end than the bottom, with the next decade showing series with Notre Dame (ACC mandated), Purdue, Ohio State and Stanford.
Who would BC then be able to get for a second game? I think that's a challenge that a lot of schools will face as these teams pair off and makes the odds of going the nine conference game route more likely and easiest for the league and the member schools. Of course, it also makes for more comparison and a truer (although not optimal) division champion.
So what camp are you in here?
Stay tuned to BCI for updates and reaction as the ADs make their decision.