Last week the ACC announced its 2013 conference schedule, the first of its kind with the addition of Syracuse and Pittsburgh. Andrea Adelson and I sought your input on this topic via the mailbag and Twitter, for those of you who follow us @ESPN_ACC. This edition of the mailbag is a collection of some of your questions:
Tom in DC writes: As a worried B1G fan (and PSU alum), I really don't like this setup the ACC has, with only 8 conference games. The B1G is threatening to stay with 8 conference games in 2014 with the addition of Maryland and Rutgers. Do you guys know how the 2014 ACC schedule will play out? Specifically, if the rotating crossover rivals are played in home-home pairs (for example, Boston College plays @ North Carolina in 2013, then hosts North Carolina in 2014), then that means they won't play each other again until the 2024 and 2025 seasons! I can't imagine they would do that. I mean, what's the point of being in the same conference?
HD: I honestly think fans will get used to this, Tom. The crossover rival is not set up to be home and home. Just because one team is at a certain school this year, or a certain school is hosting doesn’t mean that opponent will be on their schedule next year. All Atlantic Division teams will host their crossover opponent next year, but who that crossover opponent is in 2014, we don’t know that yet. There will still be a 5-7 year gap until teams see that opponent again, and that was agreed upon by the ACC athletic directors. The goal was to try and make sure the players see that opponent at least once in his career, though it’s obviously not a guarantee. The framework for his scheduling format is set up for the next 12 years, assuming that’s what the schools want to continue to do, and assuming Louisville replaces Maryland. And don’t forget the ACC will play five games annually against Notre Dame, beginning in 2014, so that will factor into the scheduling that year, too.
Nick in Orlando writes: So what are the chances of ACC finally being smart about the schedule and having FSU vs Clemson later in the season? I think this game would get much attention if it was towards the end of October, it seems like such a waste to have biggest ACC game of the year within the first couple of weeks of the season.
HD: I like the idea of it, Nick, but it’s just not that simple. It would still have to fit in among nonconference games, TV plays a pretty big role in it, and when you take a closer look at it, it might not be the best strategic move for a conference trying to position a few of its teams for top 10 rankings come November. To the first point -- the ACC as a conference does not mandate when teams have to play their nonconference games. Some conferences do. Because the ACC doesn’t, it makes the entire scheduling grid that much more of a puzzle, but it’s also a nice freedom for the schools to have. As for strategy … one of those teams -- FSU or Clemson -- has to lose. Isn’t it better to get that loss out of the way early, like Clemson did, and then try and finish strong? Clemson could have been in a great position in the rankings and possibly earned a BCS bid had it beaten South Carolina. Even so, that loss to South Carolina didn’t look as bad as if Clemson would have lost back to back games to FSU and South Carolina.
John in Charlotte, N.C., writes: Heather - Thanks for all that you do covering the ACC!I think the ACC needs to look at how much success the SEC is having scheduling FCS teams in week 12. It seems like South Carolina's success in week 13 the past several years has direct correlation to when they started playing the citadel and wofford before Clemson. It sure would be nice for the ACC to have two weeks to prepare also!
HD: This ties into the previous question a bit. Again, it’s up to the individual schools when they schedule those nonconference games, but I think this year when the official schedule comes out, we’ll see that Georgia Tech, Florida State and Clemson all have FCS games scheduled before the final weekend of the regular season. That should be one of the first things worth checking out when the schedule is official.
Ryan in Fort Mill, S.C., writes: Heather, why didn't the ACC return the home/home with VT cross conference for 2013? Another blow to the Noles strength of schedule giving us Pitt rather than VT. I know it probably has to do with the additions of Pitt & Syracuse scheduling, I get that, but the stupid ACC sure doesn't do itself any favors in trying to build a better football reputation. Thanks, Ryan
HD: First of all, to your point about strength of schedule … Pitt and Virginia Tech finished with the same record last year. Pitt beat the Hokies head-to-head. How would playing Virginia Tech help FSU’s strength of schedule again? FSU had to play Miami as its primary home partner, so the crossover had to be on the road. It wouldn’t have been smart to send FSU back to Blacksburg.