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ACC News: 9 games and a conference network?

USA TODAY Sports

Back in the spring of 2012, the ACC announced that it would be moving to a 9 game scheduling format starting in 2013. However, when Notre Dame decided to join the A.C.C. in September of 2012, the 9 game format became a hot topic issue at Florida State, Georgia Tech, and Clemson.

As part of their acceptance into the league, Notre Dame was required to schedule 5 ACC teams per year in football and play every ACC team at least once over a three year period. The problem with this agreement was that Florida State, Georgia Tech, and Clemson already had annual out of conference rivalry games with teams in the SEC. With 9 conference games and a locked OOC game already on the schedule, the agreement with Notre Dame meant that these schools would lose virtually all scheduling flexibility. In addition, they also faced the problem of only being able to schedule 6 home games whenever they played at Notre Dame (once every six years). For schools like FSU and Clemson, losing home games means losing bit chunks of revenue. As a result, the ACC scrapped the 9 game schedule in October of 2012 and decided to stick with an 8 game conference schedule.

Despite getting nixed in 2012, the idea of playing a 9th conference game hasn't died down. Ken Sugiura of the Atlanta Journal Constitution recently wrote this piece which asserts that the ACC is still considering a move to 9 conference games for football.

At the board of trustees meeting for the Georgia Tech Athletic Association last Thursday, athletic director Mike Bobinski shared an update about scheduling discussions among officials at the ACC member schools and brought up ESPN’s possible influence.

At the conference’s meetings this week, the conference and ESPN are expected to have an update on where things stand in regards to a possible ACC channel. Should it go forward, Bobinski said, ESPN will likely want more "inventory" to put on the channel, meaning an additional conference game.

Jeff Greer at the Courier Journal also had an article out this week about the topic.

Minutes from the ULAA’s most recent meetings don’t include any mention of an expanded ACC schedule or conference network, and three university spokesmen said the topic hadn’t come up to their knowledge.

But one U of L trustee said both an expanded schedule and a TV network appear to be imminent, and no one seems to be denying it.

"An ACC network has to be an inevitable thing at this point," U of L trustee Jonathan Blue said, citing recent trends in sports business. "There’s too much money involved for it not to be."

This news comes on the heels of the recent announcement that the ACC is looking into petitioning the NCAA to change its rules on conference championships in football. Under the current structure, the NCAA requires that each conference have at least 12 members split into two divisions to hold a conference championship game in football.

If some of those requirements were removed, the ACC might consider moving to a scheduling format involving a set number of annual rivals with the rest of the opponents rotating. The two teams with the best record in the ACC would then play for the conference championship. The benefit of such a move would be that it would result in more interesting conference championship games and teams could cycle through conference opponents at a much quicker rate. Under the current system, Atlantic and Coastal opponents will only see one another twice over a twelve year period.

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