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College Football Insider

ACC watching SEC's 8- vs. 9-game scheduling decision closely

Unintended or not, the ACC and SEC could become a de facto package deal on the looming 8-vs. 9-game decisions for both conferences.

The ACC is closely watching how the SEC handles its scheduling format and will take that into consideration when it meets as a league May 13 in Amelia Island, Fla., sources said.

The SEC is expected to finalize its plans by early May.

If the SEC goes to nine, that shrinks the ACC's pool of non-conference opponents.

If the SEC stays at eight, that clears the lane for the ACC to remain in its current setup and strengthen what a high-ranking source calls a "mutual interest in scheduling each other" in the future.

One concept, according to the source, would keep the ACC to stay at eight under the stipulation that each team play at least one power conference team each year, hopefully more. The ACC and SEC already play several traditional rivalries such as Florida-Florida State, Georgia-Georgia Tech, Louisville-Kentucky and Clemson-South Carolina.

The ACC can justify eight games because of its partnership with Notre Dame, which plays five league opponents per season, in rotation. But a handful of athletic directors and coaches prefer a move to nine.

Two power conferences, the Pac-12 and Big 12, are playing a nine-game slate. The Big Ten is bumping from eight to nine in 2016.

Many believe the ESPN-owned SEC Network will persuade the league to add an extra conference game and, thus, more inventory. But between non-conference neutral site and home games, the SEC can justify the programming in its current setup.

The College Football Playoff, however, seems the bigger consideration. Can the SEC get one or two teams in even if it's the only power league playing an eight-game slate?

As noted by colleague Dennis Dodd, the ACC is evaluating several potential big-picture scheduling changes such as eliminating divisions and placing the two best teams in the conference championship game.

Jeremy Fowler is a national college football insider with CBSSports.com. Fowler joined CBS in 2012 after covering the Minnesota Vikings for the St. Paul Pioneer Press for two seasons and covering the Florida Gators for the Orlando Sentinel for two years. Fowler is also a contributor to the CBS Sports Network.

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