ACC football teams considering ‘nonconference’ games against other ACC teams


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The ACC on Monday announced that it would continue to play an eight-game conference schedule, with the requirement that league teams play one nonconference game against a so-called “Power Five” team, beginning in 2017.

But what if an ACC team struggles to find a willing opponent from the other power conferences (Big Ten, SEC, Big 12, Pac-12)? Well, the conference’s athletic directors may have come up with a novel yet somewhat odd solution: They could play another ACC team that isn’t on that season’s schedule and simply not count that game toward the conference standings.

Confused? Here’s ESPN’s Andrea Adelson and Brett McMurphy, live from the conference’s spring meetings in Florida:

Because of the eight-game league schedule, non-primary crossover rivals in the Atlantic and Coastal divisions may only play each other once in an 11-year span. This prompted discussion at the ACC spring meetings about playing other ACC teams as nonconference opponents in future seasons. Some possible future ACC “nonconference” games could pit Miami vs. Syracuse, Duke vs. NC State or Clemson Tigers vs. Virginia Cavaliers.

“Everything’s on the table,” Syracuse athletic director Daryl Gross said.

Under the current scheduling format, ACC teams play the six other teams in their division every year, plus one game every year against a primary cross-division opponent and one game against a cross-division opponent that changes each season. Also, under its agreement with Notre Dame, each ACC team will play the Fighting Irish once every three years, a game that will count as an acceptable opponent under the new “Power Five” rule.

For ACC teams such as Florida State (which plays Florida every year), Georgia Tech (Georgia) and Clemson (South Carolina), finding a power-conference opponent isn’t an issue. But for others, it might be tough.

As Adelson and McMurphy point out, North Carolina State and Duke are located less than 30 miles apart and played every season from 1924 to 2003, but they’ve faced off only three times in the last 10 years because of the way the ACC’s schedule is set up (the teams are in different divisions) and are scheduled to meet only once in the next 11 years, in 2020. Under the proposal, which is allowed under the ACC’s bylaws, the Wolfpack and Blue Devils could meet as “nonconference” opponents in the years when they already aren’t scheduled to play. The same goes for Syracuse and Miami, who played annually when they were in the Big East but are scheduled to square off only twice in the next 11 years in the ACC.

“It just makes sense for us, in years that we’re not playing Notre Dame, to consider scheduling one of those teams as a nonconference game,” N.C. State Coach Dave Doeren told ESPN. “It would be great from the perspective of student-athlete experience and welfare, minimizing travel, and to have games in closer geographic proximity for our fans.”

This being ACC football, the Twitter wags were out in force after the news broke.

After spending the first 17 years of his Post career writing and editing, Matt and the printed paper had an amicable divorce in 2014. He's now blogging and editing for the Early Lead and the Post's other Web-based products.

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Matt Bonesteel · May 14, 2014