A bad idea: ACC and Big Ten have talked of playing non-conference conference games

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BigTen and ACC Logo

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Let's stop this madness before it becomes even close to a reality.

As a future scheduling frenzy envelops the power five conferences in college football because of the new College Football Playoff system, the ACC and Big Ten have brought up the idea of letting its teams play non-conference games against each other.


Let's start with the ACC. From ESPN:

"I think all the coaches felt like playing each other more, if there was a model for that, we'd be open to it," NC State coach Dave Doerin said. "They are going to allow us to use that plus-one game in the conference as a nonconference game so that will be interesting to see where it goes. When we don't have to play Notre Dame, playing Duke or Virginia or somebody from the Coastal that we don't play will be a discussion we want to have."

No. No. No. No. No.

The scheduling idea was brought up in the Big Ten a while back by then-Michigan athletic director Bill Martin, but it was thankfully shot down. However, it wasn't mortally wounded.

"That's a unique concept we could talk about more," Penn State atheltic director Dave Joyner told ESPN Big Ten. "That's a possibility."

The discussions about the non-conference conference games setup are spurred by the College Football Playoff committee's emphasis on schedule strength and the inequities in the number of future conference games amongst the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC.

The Big Ten, Big 12 and Pac-12 are all at nine conference games, and both the Big Ten and Pac-12 have an additional championship game. Big Ten teams are also prohibited from playing FCS teams.

The SEC and ACC are staying with eight conference games for the near future, but are requiring teams to play at least one team from the other four conferences. (The rule goes into effect in 2016 in the SEC and 2017 in the ACC)

"It's going to be more challenging to find nonconference games," Miami athletic director Blake James said. "A conference like the SEC doesn't want to play us. Florida has Florida State, so we're not going to have an opportunity to play them."

Florida's series with Miami doesn't have any future games on the schedule. But the ACC still has a longstanding relationship with the SEC; counting Florida and Florida State, there are four annual ACC/SEC matchups.

Given the future scheduling requirements, the ACC and SEC both have a similar need for non-conference games. Finding common ground to schedule a home-and-home series is only as challenging as athletic departments want to make it on themselves.

And let's be brutally honest; even with the disparities amongst conferences, scheduling should not be deemed complicated enough to even have to consider playing teams from within your conference as a non-conference game.

How confusing would a game between North Carolina State and Duke be that doesn't count towards the ACC standings? Whenever you need special notations for conference standings and schedules, you've gone too far. While we get the sentiments of those in the ACC wanting to play teams from opposite divisions more often, it's needlessly adding confusion to a less-than-streamlined system.

Non-conference conference games may make things harder for the College Football Playoff selection committee too. Games amongst power five conference teams could serve as a key indicator of conference strength; albeit in a limited data set.

If a team played a non-conference game or two against teams from its own conference with other games against lower-conference FBS schools, it's even more at the mercy of the perceived strength of its own conference. We've seen how perception can become reality in college football, and the scheduling idea could be a hinderance for a team in a "weak" conference. It also wouldn't give any clarity to where a team stacks up nationally.

College football looks to be the closest it's ever been to having a straightforward way of selecting a national champion. We don't need conferences trying to muddy up the selection process.

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Nick Bromberg is the assistant editor of Dr. Saturday on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at nickbromberg@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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