Ron Wellman's Column: Number of ACC Contests

Oct. 21, 2010

When the ACC expanded to 12 teams in 2005, there were numerous benefits to adding Boston College, Miami and Virginia Tech. The conference was strengthened considerably with the addition of these three outstanding universities. The expansion allowed the ACC to add a Championship Game in football. And the league's national exposure increased as the conference footprint grew to include the entire Atlantic Coast region from Miami to Boston.

One of the negatives of expanding to twelve schools was losing a full round-robin schedule in a number of sports, primarily in basketball and football. Prior to expansion, our fans knew that they would see every ACC team play at Wake Forest each year in basketball, and every other year in football. With 12 teams in the conference, that was no longer possible. In our current conference set-up, our fans will see both Duke AND North Carolina in the Joel Coliseum just once every three years. We host one or the other but not both in the other two years.

One of the topics of discussion among the ACC athletic directors has been the number of conference games to be contested in football and basketball. Currently, the ACC plays eight league football games and 16 league basketball games. As we reviewed some of the other BCS conferences, we found that the Pac-10 plays a nine-game conference schedule while the Big 12 and the Big Ten are considering that format. The Big East, Big Ten and Pac-10 already play 18-game conference basketball schedules as well.

The expansion of the ACC football and basketball conference schedules is very attractive and has much potential. Seeing more ACC teams would be attractive to our fans. Adding another league football game would allow our fans to see another game against a team in which we already have an established rivalry which undoubtedly more attractive than a non-conference game.

There are some challenges to a adding conference games. With a nine-game football schedule, half of the ACC teams would play four home league games and the other half would play five. Home fields offer such an advantage that playing an unbalanced schedule could play a significant role in the determination of the division and conference championships. That disadvantage must be weighed against the attractiveness of playing another conference team versus a nonconference game.

Determining how to spread out the additional two basketball games will also take some study. If we were to add two conference games to our schedule, we would be most interested in playing the other North Carolina schools on a home and away basis every year. Whether that is a possibility remains to be seen but it is a scheduling model that we would pursue if in fact an 18-game conference schedule is adopted.

While the ACC has not yet acted on the possibility of increasing the league games (although we discuss the concept at practically every meeting), the AD's will certainly continue our discussion at our meetings in February.

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