ACC’s interesting alternative to potential nine-game league schedule

The ACC’s possible expansion to a nine-game conference schedule may be arriving at a decision. The conference’s athletic directors are scheduled to have a conference call Friday and Georgia Tech athletic director Mike Bobinski said Saturday that he expects the issue will be on the agenda.

Speaking at Tech’s media day, Bobinski brought up an intriguing alternative to the nine-game league schedule – keeping the league schedule at eight games but requiring that teams play two non-conference games against power-conference teams. The ACC already has a mandate that goes into effect in 2017 that league teams play one such game.

The impetus for the discussion is the desire to provide inventory for the ACC Network, whose 2019 launch was made official in July. The channel will broadcast 40 regular-season games annually. The conference has already agreed to expand its basketball conference schedule from 18 games to 20, starting in the 2019-20 season.

“I would tell that you that I think we’ll get that decision here in the next couple of weeks because we need to,” Bobinski said. “You can’t put your non-conference schedule on hold forever. You’ve got to be able to move it, so getting the resolution on that’s important.”

Bobinski said that Tech would be in favor of the eight-plus-two model because of its annual game with Georgia and the ACC’s contracted games with Notre Dame. Were the ACC to move to a nine-game league schedule format, Tech would periodically play the nine league games, Georgia and Notre Dame, a rather heavy slate.

An eight-plus-two model would not be a change for Tech, which attempts to play two power-conference games annually, including Georgia. The Yellow Jackets played Notre Dame last season, will play Vanderbilt this season, Tennessee in 2017 and have home-and-home series lined up in the future with Mississippi and Colorado.

The challenge with the eight-plus-two model is that the Big 12, Big Ten and Pac-12 all play nine-game league schedules (the Big Ten starts this season). Finding two power-conference games could be problematic, particularly for the 10 ACC schools that don’t have annual rivalry games against SEC opponents built into their schedules.

One solution is playing other ACC teams as non-conference games. North Carolina and Wake Forest have already scheduled a two-game series for 2019 and 2021. (Bobinski said that Tech would do that only if desperate.) Another could be an early-season challenge with another conference, possibly the SEC (which plays eight league games).

A simple majority would be required on a vote. In May 2014, when ACC athletic directors voted on a possible nine-game league schedule, the eight-game model won 8-6.

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