The Atlantic Coast Conference’s athletic directors voted on Wednesday to keep an eight-game conference schedule, while having to play at least one Power Five non-conference game.
The league twitted the news on its official football twitter account.
This is big news for Clemson and other ACC schools that already play a rival-Power Five non-conference opponent. It now allows Clemson the flexibility of playing a second Power Five non-conference opponent such as Auburn, Texas A&M or Georgia in the future.
The ACC’s athletic directors decided on Aug. 12 to delay the vote until this week, so they could all get in one room and talk. Clemson, Florida State and Louisville, the conference’s three big players in football this season, along with Georgia Tech, wanted to keep the eight-game schedule because of their in-state rivalry games with SEC teams.
Heading into this week’s meetings, word got out that there was momentum that the conference was going to switch to a nine-game schedule. However, according to an article written by David Teel in The Daily Press, the ACC changed course.
The ACC’s athletic directors have spent a lot of time debating the last three months what they wanted to do. ESPN, who signed on in July to launch the league’s own network by 2019, wanted the conference to commit to either an 8 + 2 model with its scheduling or a 9 + 1, in order to help create more programing for the network.
However on Tuesday morning things changed. Teel wrote in his column, “During a conference call Tuesday morning to prepare for their face-to-face meetings, the athletic directors learned from ACC commissioner John Swofford that while ESPN prefers one of those formats, it will settle for 8+1.”
This option helped Clemson’s, Florida State’s, Louisville’s and Georgia Tech’s case to stay at eight games. Those four played a big role in why the conference voted in 2014 to stay at eight games with an 8-6 vote.
“We are firmly entrenched in the eight-game camp. It has worked well for Clemson,” Clemson Athletic Director Dan Radakovich told The Clemson Insider back in August. “We have had a scheduling philosophy that has, not only with our rivalry game with the University of South Carolina, but we have gone out and played top level opponents.
“We think that is a real positive. We think that is very important for us. So we are in that camp.”
Clemson, ranked No. 3 in the latest polls, opened this season with a 19-13 victory at Auburn and will host the SEC’s Tigers next year in Death Valley. Clemson also has a home-and-home series with Texas A&M scheduled for 2018 and 2019.
Like most schools, Clemson did not want to lose that seventh home game because it helps support the athletic department with funding for the non-revenue Olympic sports, and in so many other areas as well.
“It is also important for us for the community and for the region that we have seven home games,” Radakovich said. “Seven home games are much easier to achieve for us with an eight-game conference schedule.”
The ACC has played eight conference games every year since Florida State joined the conference in 1992.