As the ACC readies for its second season with 14 teams, a nine-game conference schedule is looking like a legitimate possibility.
Georgia Tech discussed the idea at a Board of Trustees meeting on Thursday. The ACC is holding conference meetings this week and the prospects of an ACC network in collaboration with ESPN will be discussed. That network could be the catalyst for adding a game to the conference slate.
“It wouldn’t be the worst thing to have an additional ACC game as opposed to hunting around the country” for a non-conference game, Georgia Tech athletic director Mike Bobinski said. (Rather coincidentally, or perhaps not at all, Bobinski made the comment on the same day that Tulane officials informed Tech that they wanted to cancel their four-game series before reversing course the next day.)
The ACC has been down the nine-game road before and even approved a schedule expansion in May 2012. However, the league subsequently added a partnership with Notre Dame and because of it, reverted back to an eight-game conference schedule. Starting in 2014, Notre Dame will play five ACC teams a season for three years.
A nine-game schedule has also been much discussed for the 14-team SEC, which is launching the SEC Network in August. The conference has also only set an eight-game schedule for the next two seasons, prompting speculation that a nine-game schedule could come as early as 2016. Given that the SEC Network is owned by ESPN, a move by both conferences makes sense.
An extra conference game will add money to each school's coffers. According to the AJC, Georgia Tech projects $22.2 million in revenue in 2015. It's a number that would increase with the actualization of an ACC Network.
The money would be the motivating piece for teams to accept the ninth conference game. And some ACC schools like Georgia Tech have an SEC rival. The 10 booked games would leave just two regular season games available for non-conference scheduling purposes.
But is that a bad thing? An extra conference game would likely be more competitive than lower-tier school being paid to be a mercenary for a weekend. With the new College Football Playoff, going undefeated is not as necessary as it once was and schedule strength is going to be more important. More money for schools and better games for fans sounds like a win for both sides.
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