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ACC Considering Non-Conference Games vs. Teams Within Own Conference



To satisfy the new requirement to play at least one opponent from a Power 5 conference annually, some ACC schools are considering playing each other. According to ESPN's Andrea Adelson and Brett McMurphy:

Because of the eight-game league schedule, non-primary crossover rivals in the Atlantic and Coastal divisions may only play each other once in an 11-year span. This prompted discussion at the ACC spring meetings about playing other ACC teams as nonconference opponents in future seasons. Some possible future ACC "nonconference" games could pit Miami vs. Syracuse, Duke vs. NC State or Clemson Tigers vs. Virginia Cavaliers.

"Everything's on the table," Syracuse athletic director Daryl Gross said.

You can go ahead and sign N.C. State up, too, which seems averse to scheduling non-body bag, non-conference opponents:

"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 coach Dave Doeren said. "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."

There is an argument to be made that Duke and N.C. State should play each other more often, over, say, N.C. State-Indiana, but this is not how you go about solving it. There are other, cleaner ways to increase the frequency of cross-division matchups, including eliminating the divisions and moving to a 3+5 scheduling model. That is, once the NCAA grants the Power 5 conferences the autonomy to determine a conference champion how they see fit. Not like this.

In the ESPN report, Miami athletic director Blake James talked about how difficult its going to be for the Hurricanes to find non-conference games as apparently SEC teams are ducking the U.

"It's going to be more challenging to find nonconference games," James said. "A conference like the SEC doesn't want to play us. Florida has Florida State, so we're not going to have an opportunity to play them."

There are 50 other non-ACC, non-Notre Dame programs for teams to schedule. 51 if the conference decides to include BYU and 52 to 53 with Army and Navy (but probably not). Programs only need to schedule one of those 51 schools two out of every three seasons. Is that really that difficult a task to accomplish, even with the Pac-12, Big 12 and Big Ten at or moving to a nine-game conference schedule?

The whole resolution to the ACC football scheduling dilemma seemed incredibly rushed and half-assed. Is BYU included or not? Do non-conference conference games count or not? No press release? Why announce the news if the conference hadn't really thought this through? Very un-Ninja-like.

If schools are complaining that it's difficult to schedule one Power 5 conference team a year, or are upset about the infrequency of cross-division matchups, why weren't they pushing for a ninth conference game in the first place? How about other scheduling reform once the NCAA deregulates conference championship games? While I appreciate that the vote was very close -- 8-6 in favor of sticking with an eight-game conference schedule -- something just doesn't feel right with this whole scheduling thing.

Don't get me wrong. I'd love to see more Boston College-Miami too, but this isn't the way you go about it. But it just doesn't seem like the ACC, after years of waffling on the eight- vs. nine-game conference scheduling issue, put much thought into this new scheduling model at all. Instead, the league waited on the SEC to decide its future football scheduling model and said, "Sure, me too."