The ACC is set to formally approve its eight-game conference football schedule format today, a continuation of the existing model with an added strength-of-schedule component requiring all schools to play a Big 12, Big Ten, SEC or Pac-12 opponent, or Notre Dame, on an annual basis.
One of the outstanding questions was whether BYU, a football independent like Notre Dame, would satisfy the new strength-of-schedule component. Sounds like the Cougars will not.
The SEC, which has an identical strength-of-schedule component included in their new schedule model, also won't count BYU as a power conference opponent.
If strength-of-schedule is the only goal, it's hard to justify BYU's exclusion as a Power 5 program. Over the last decade, BYU is 87-40 and claims one more National Championship and one more Heisman Trophy than many ACC and SEC programs. The Cougars also have a .500 or better record against 18 of the 42 power-conference teams they've faced.
Of course, there are likely other factors at play here, including the fact that BYU owns the television rights to its games. This really isn't so much of a strength-of-schedule component as it is a guaranteed TV inventory component. It's also not like BYU's decision to become an independent wasn't without its risks.
Hopefully ACC teams, including Boston College, will continue to schedule BYU in non-conference play and the Cougars aren't squeezed out of playing major conference programs. The two teams played in a home-and-home series in 2005-06 and Cougars coach Bronco Mendenhall has made it no secret that he'd like to play BC again in the future, so there's definitely interest there.
Other scheduling notes ...
Remember that incredibly stupid idea about ACC programs playing one another in a "nonconference game" to satisfy the new strength-of-schedule component? Yeah, that probably not happening:
Now that the ACC has decided to play eight conference games instead of nine, ACC commissioner John Swofford, speaking with me Wednesday on the ESPNU College Football Podcast, sounded skeptical of the proposal that his members might play one another in a "nonconference" game. Swofford made a good point. That option has always been available, and the schools haven't rushed to embrace it.
The last time this came up, ACC programs made a mad scramble to find a 12th game for the 2013 season after the league decided to stick with an eight-game schedule with Notre Dame's inclusion. Boston College ended up with an incredibly random road game in Las Cruces against New Mexico State. The option of playing an ACC opponent as a "nonconference" game came up but ultimately was not acted upon.
Want to play more games against ACC opponents? Increase the number of conference games or alter the divisional alignment and scheduling format. Playing "nonconference" conference games is not a solution.
Finally, Commissioner Swofford added that the ACC won't formally prohibit programs from against playing FCS schools.
Swofford: "We (ACC) did not want to set up a formal prohibition against playing FCS schools for legal and political reasons"— FBSchedules.com (@FBSchedules) May 14, 2014
I'd imagine that Boston College is one ACC program in favor of continuing the practice, especially in light of the program's recently inked series with long-time Jesuit rival Holy Cross. The two-game football series is 2018 and 2020 is made possible by the Patriot League's decision to offer athletic merit scholarships in football. By the time the first of these two games rolls around, Holy Cross will offer the required number of scholarships for a victory over the Crusaders to count towards bowl eligibility.