|After the addition of Notre Dame, the ACC pulled back on its push for a nine-game football schedule. (US Presswire)|
At the ACC Football Kickoff in July, commissioner John Swofford made it clear the conference was moving toward an nine-game schedule. No matter what the coaches had to say about it -- they did not seem pleased -- the ACC's decision seemed inevitable.
That changed when the ACC announced a partial membership agreement with Notre Dame, which includes five games between the Fighting Irish and conference members. On Wednesday at the ACC Fall Business Meetings in Needham, Mass., the athletic directors voted to keep an eight-game conference schedule.
"The addition of Notre Dame gives us an opportunity to reinforce a number of conference rivalries in basketball and Olympic sports while also giving our schools greater flexibility in nonconference football scheduling," Swofford said in an official release. "With Pitt, Syracuse and Notre Dame joining us, it is an exciting time in our league and our schools have made decisions that position us extremely well for the future."
The move to a nine-game conference schedule was always a primary concern for Georgia Tech, Florida State and Clemson -- all schools with traditional in-state rivalries against SEC opponents. With nine ACC games and one nonconference matchup set in stone, those schools would have very little scheduling flexibility. If there was a nine-game schedule, each of those schools would have only one open date in a year when they are set to play Notre Dame
Coaches did not openly criticize the idea of a nine-game ACC schedule, but you could tell there was almost uniform discontent across all of the schools. Miami coach Al Golden said "the time had passed" for complaining, while Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson mentioned the end of home-and-home series against regional nonconference foes.
Pittsburgh will be joining the Coastal Division and Syracuse will move to the Atlantic Division when the two schools arrive from the Big East in time for the 2013-2014 academic year. The eight-game conference schedule will include division opponents and a predetermined primary crossover partner from the opposite division. Pittsburgh and Syracuse will be primary crossover partners.
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