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ACC athletics directors remain undecided on football schedule format

Clemson v North Carolina State Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

The ACC’s athletics directors are still at an impasse when it comes to football scheduling. A recent teleconference to discuss the matter apparently did not bring them any closer to a final decision, and as Andrea Adelson explains here, there are a variety of issues complicating things.

They have until the end of the year to decide whether to go with the 8+2 (eight league games, two power-five games every year) or 9+1 model. They have to pick one. ESPN said so. Establishing a network in partnership with the Worldwide Leader ain’t about to come without some strings attached.

ESPN’s demands for additional inventory have left the headaches almost entirely on the football side. An increase in conference games on the basketball side still leaves a lot of scheduling flexibility since those teams will still play 10+ non-conference contests. With football, ESPN’s stipulations begin to feel constricting, especially for schools that have set games against SEC rivals each year. Not surprisingly, all of those schools are in the 8+2 camp.

NC State prefers a move to nine league games—Debbie Yow for years has been a proponent of expanding the league schedule. I still think that this format makes the most sense, but I can also see this from the other side.

Notre Dame’s agreement/half-membership with the ACC is a wrench in the negotiating, since under the 9+1 model, Louisville/FSU/Clemson/GT would have years where they had 11 of their 12 games set in stone. They don’t want to play more power-conference teams than necessary any more than they want to relinquish scheduling flexibility in those years. The 12th team they schedule in those seasons would, for practical purposes, have to be a cupcake.

And it kinda takes the fun out of the non-conference slate if you’re seeing the same two teams every few seasons.

That’s a completely reasonable objection to the 9+1 format. But the 8+2 format would be one heck of a strain on most of the league’s members, and might not actually be feasible at all.

The 9+1 format seems better for the overall health of the league, as teams will rotate more quickly through opponents in the opposite division than they do currently. Right now everybody in the Coastal save UNC feels like a dang stranger, and that includes Duke. But there’s no perfect answer.

So we got ourselves a stalemate, and there’s no telling when or how they’ll manage to sort it out. There is no compromise available, because our omnipotent sports broadcasting god, ESPN, hath decreed from his perch in the clouds, “TEN! Ten is the number of power-five games thou shalt play!”

That will soon be the law of the land, and the mere mortals involved will simply have to accept the consequences that will come from it. The ongoing negotiations/arguments are about which set of consequences they prefer.