Head coach Jimbo Fisher of the Florida State Seminoles meets with head coach David Cutcliffe of the Duke Blue Devils before the ACC Championship game at Bank of America Stadium on December 7, 2013 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) (Streeter Lecka / April 23, 2014)
One of the hot topics up for discussion when football coaches and athletic directors converge on Amelia island for the annual ACC spring meetings this May will center on the growing debate on whether to continue with the league’s current eight-game conference schedule.
A nine-game schedule change has been building momentum among the ADs and the topic was broached with many of the coaches during Wednesday’s annual spring football teleconference.
“I think there are going to be a lot of discussions with the ADs that are going to be interesting,” said Duke coach David Cutcliffe. “I think it’s going to be debated.
“I wouldn’t be truthful if I didn’t tell you that the coaches lean heavily towards eight. That’s where we are,” he added.
Clemson coach Dabo Swinney reinforced Cutcliffe’s statement during his comments.
“I’ve been a proponent of keeping the eight games,” Swinney said when asked. “I like that flexibility that it give us especially with – selfishly for us here at Clemson – and with the fact that Notre Dame is rolling in as a non-conference opponent as well.
“I like the flexibility that we have with that in being able to play Auburn two years in a row, we’re playing Georgia two years in a row, we got Notre Dame next year and of course, we play South Carolina every year and I think that is something that helps us as a league as we get into this playoff-type of format,” he added.
“Whatever we do we need uniformity,” Miami coach Al Golden added. “… I’ve been in favor of going to nine. I think it would help balance our schedules. I like the way the league has grown and the new membership is clearly going to make us better. There are very attractive markets that are going to help our league out.
“I’m in favor of playing nine, if we can, but we’ll see how it develops over the next couple of weeks,” Golden added.
Under the new College Football Playoff system, teams will be judged not only on wins-and-losses, but the strength of its schedules. Conferences have already taken the necessary steps to strengthen their leagues. The Big 12 and Pac-12 currently play a nine-game conference schedule with the Big Ten joining the move in 2018. The SEC, meanwhile, is debating the merits of expanding its schedule to nine.