Each Monday, Wednesday and Friday, the Eye on College Football examines what current hot topic the fans of one BCS team are obsessing over -- rationally or not. Today's team: the Wake Forest Demon Deacons.
What they're talking about…the ACC conference schedule. One of the topics for the ACC spring meetings next week will be whether or not to add a game to the current eight-game conference schedule. The league's coaches are split on the issue, as adding a conference game will create less flexibility in non-conference scheduling for teams who permanent rivals out of conference like Florida State, Clemson and Georgia Tech. At the same time, eliminating a non-conference game from the schedule could make it tougher for a team like Wake Forest (averaging 4.6 wins per year in the last half-decade) to make it to the postseason.
But over at SB Nation's Wake Forest site, Blogger So Dear, Robert Reinhard argued that a nine-game conference schedule would benefit the entire ACC. The post generated a good amount of chatter, as Wake Forest fans are hungry for a return to ACC relevance under new head coach Dave Clawson.
What they're saying is…how would an extra conference game change non-conference scheduling? Reinhard laid out some strong points for moving to a nine-game conference schedule, but the fans over at Blogger So Dear are far from united on the issue. One of the arguments to support adding a conference game is to boost the perception and visibility of the league.
For ACC teams who are playing for bowl appearances and not necessarily national titles, I still believe that over time this will benefit those teams as well. Say a team schedules an FCS opponent and two cupcakes on their schedule in addition to their nine-game conference schedule, that means a team has to go just 3-6 in conference to make a bowl, assuming they go undefeated in non-conference play. Let's say instead of scheduling one cupcake, they play Notre Dame or schedule an SEC opponent. Even if the team goes 2-1 in non-conference that means a team has to go just 4-5 in conference in order to become bowl eligible. If an ACC team can't do that, then that team truly doesn't deserve to be in a bowl game and I think most ACC coaches would admit to that.
The ACC can raise the national perception of its league by making this move. College football is a zero sum game, but every team in this conference can get better without the others getting worse. A move like this shouldincrease attendance, revenue, and therefore recruiting, could help sway recruits from the Big 10, Big 12, SEC, and Pac 12 to the ACC. Don't we think the ACC could get an even bigger ESPN deal if they guarantee that each team is playing nine conference games? Don't we think that can help the future ACC Network? Those things all increase the quality of facilities.
There are several fans who commented that adding a conference game could end up hurting the league's perception because it could add a potential loss for Florida State, Clemson or other potential BCS-bound teams. Others argued that adding a game will allow the Demon Deacons to play in-state foes like North Carolina and Duke more often. There were 90+ comments, but this one stood out.
Honestly, I think a good compromise might be (and I really hate saying this, because I am loathe to give them credit for anything) the model that the SEC adopted, wherein the conference stays at 8 games but enforces a requirement that each team has to play a non-con major conference opponent. Whether ND counts as that designation would be up to the schools (personally, I would say no). If the goal is to boost the overall conference SoS, then the ACC consider adopting the B1G resolution to quit scheduling 1-AA teams, although that's another argument to be had.
What we think is…eight conference games is too few for a 14 team league, but there are ways to address issues of imbalance without adding the ninth game. Colleagues Dennis Dodd and Jeremy Fowler have reported on several options being explored, including a 8+1 scheduling partnership with another conference and changing the division requirements for a conference title game.
ACC coaches should be able to tell a recruit that he will play every team in the league during a four-year career. That is currently not the case, as Wake Forest will play North Carolina (a school just 80 miles down Interstate 40) once in 2015 and not again until 2022 under the current schedule rotation.