Nine? Nein!

Now this has the potential to be an interesting battle.

If the football coaches in the ACC have their way, Tuesday’s discussion about a possible nine-game conference schedule will be short.

The ACC currently plays an eight-game conference schedule. Coaches don’t want a nine-game schedule because they say it could negatively affect bowl eligibility. Those who want the nine-game schedule point to the potential of more TV revenue.

It’s been coming for a while. The cost for scheduling a non-conference opponent grows each year, either in requiring a reciprocal road game, or in the amount of the guarantee, even for 1-AA schools.

“The reality is that scheduling non-conference home games is becoming very difficult and very expensive,” said Georgia Tech athletics director Dan Radakovich, whose team is playing I-AA’s Jacksonville State and Gardner-Webb this season.

But, as Ron Prince can testify, coaches don’t care about that. It’s all about the wins and losses, baby. Skip the concern about creating unbalanced schedules (that evens out every two seasons and it hasn’t been the end of the world in the Pac-10, either), that’s the part that’s the big problem:

“Do the math,” said Duke coach David Cutcliffe. “If everybody plays another conference game that is six more losses for the league. That could cost us a bowl game or two. So whatever money you make on the front end you could lose on the back end.”

Well, maybe yes, maybe no. Moving to nine conference games probably won’t put a whole lot more asses in the seats, as only two schools in the conference sold less than 90% of their total capacity in ’07 (and you have to figure that Miami’s move out of the Orange Bowl will change its situation dramatically this year). But it would have an impact in another area.

… The move would also be good for television. The ACC’s television contracts have three more years to run. One way to enhance those packages is to take away weak non-conference games and add conference games.

“If you have more conference games then the inventory is stronger and the package is worth more,” said Ken Haines, the President and CEO of Raycom Sports. “It’s pretty simple, really.”

Barnhart summarizes the pros and cons of the debate.

SHOULD THE ACC PLAY A NINE-GAME CONFERENCE SCHEDULE?

THE CASE FOR

1. It makes putting together a schedule easier and less expensive. Schools will have to pay fewer large “guarantees” for home non-conference opponents.

2. It gives season ticket holders more bang for their buck. Fewer non-competitive home games against lightweight opponents.

3. Better TV inventory. Six additional conference games would make future television contracts more valuable.

THE CASE AGAINST

1. The ACC schedule is tough enough. Clemson (South Carolina), Florida State (Florida), and Georgia Tech (Georgia) already have annual non-conference games against the ACC.

2. Unbalanced schedule. With a nine-game schedule, half of the league would have five ACC games at home while the other half would only have four. The teams with five conference road games would be at a disadvantage.

3. Could hurt bowl eligibility. Six more conference games guarantees six more losses spread around the league. It could cost the ACC a bowl slot or two.

The coaches don’t look like they’re on the side of the angels on this one. The case for looks a lot more compelling than the case against. Time isn’t on their side, either, since the cost of business keeps going up.

Tater Tot has some more thoughts on the matter (with a “dadgum” thrown in as a bonus!) here.

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UPDATE: Coaches 1, ADs 0.  One interesting quote from Bobby Bowden:

“I can’t think of a single reason that a football coach would want it. … The difference between getting into a BCS bowl game and a lesser bowl game, it’s not worth it,” Bowden said.

But the ACC is guaranteed a BCS game anyway.  So I guess he’s talking about a second BCS bid for the conference.  Except that’s never happened since they’ve gone to the current BCS format.

6 Comments

Filed under ACC Football, It's Just Bidness

6 responses to “Nine? Nein!

  1. dean

    Doesn’t sound like a bad idea. Though I wonder what it would do to the OOC scheduling of teams like Clem[p]son for UGA. I honestly wish we could play them more often than what we do. But that’s another topic. Anyway I would imagine teams (especially SEC teams) would be more apprehensive of scheduling a “tough” OOC opponent. Adding another team from the west would be tough. Imagine if our schedule this year included Arkansas or one of the Mississippi schools instead or Central Michigan or Southern. As a fan it would be great but if I’m a coach playing 9 SEC games I’m begging for weak OOC teams to fill the 2 open slots.

  2. I suspect all of the major conferences are headed that way. It’s getting too costly and too difficult to schedule creampuffs.

    If you add another conference game to the schedule, it lowers demand, which should rein in costs somewhat. And if all the conferences go the same route, it levels the playing field somewhat in terms of SOS.

  3. If they are willing to play 1 more game home and home (in conference), then why not just play 1 more game home and home out of conference?

    Could it be that the ACC games are just much easier than the sort of competition they will face beyond their own league?

  4. I don’t know if the games are easier, but the scheduling certainly is – which is what I thought you had a conference for in the first place.

    If there’s any karma, it would serve Bowden right if FSU were cut out of a BCS game this year because it played two 1-AA opponents.

  5. NM

    Agreed, Senator, although the chances of FSU being nearly that close to a BCS bowl are pretty slim…

  6. I know… talk about your bittersweet endings.