Coaches want to keep 8-game slate

Updated: April 23, 2014, 6:02 PM ET
By Heather Dinich | ESPN.com

ACC coaches are in favor of sticking with an eight-game league schedule as the conference prepares to again debate an eight- or nine-game format at next month's spring meetings in Amelia Island, Fla., according to Duke coach David Cutcliffe, who is chair of the ACC coaches' committee.

The coaches and athletic directors will meet May 12-15, and the future schedule is a high on the agenda and could come to a vote. In fact, many within the conference are hoping it does, as it has been discussed for years. The ADs have the final vote, and the coaches have been overruled in the past on this issue. In May 2012, the ADs voted in favor of a nine-game schedule only to revert to eight games after announcing a partnership with Notre Dame.

Now, because the league has expanded to 14 teams with the recent additions of Louisville, Pittsburgh and Syracuse, the conference has decided to reconsider the format. Factors being considered include how to best position the ACC for the new College Football Playoff, the league's interest in starting an ACC channel, and the built-in rivalries against SEC opponents that exist between some schools.

"I think it's going to be debated, I will say that," Cutcliffe said on Wednesday's spring ACC coaches' teleconference. "I wouldn't be being truthful if I didn't tell you the coaches lean heavily towards eight. That's where we are. We have a schedule made out for the next few years. We have Notre Dame rotating in and out of there. We've got Kansas, Northwestern, we have some Big 12, Big Ten, SEC schools on our schedule now. From a coaching standpoint, we're real happy with eight games. I think there's a lot of discussions we're going to have with the ADs that could be interesting."

One of the biggest criticisms of the current format is that each ACC school faces its crossover opponents only twice during the 12-year rotation -- once at home and once on the road, but not consecutively. A nine-game format would increase the ACC's league schedule from 56 to 63 games.

Not all of the coaches are in favor of eight games, as Miami's Al Golden and Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer both said they are in favor of nine, and Virginia coach Mike London said he hasn't made up his mind on the issue.

"I'd rather play a game that you need to win as opposed to playing a game that you should win," Beamer said. "Just from a coaching standpoint, I think that I'd love more of those challenges rather than the alumni getting all upset when they think you should've won a game. ... I think I'd go for nine games."

Golden agreed.

"Whatever the decision is, I'm in favor of going to nine," he said. "I think it would help balance our schedules. I like the way the league has grown with the new membership. Clearly it's going to make us better. There are some very attractive markets that have helped our league out, so I'm in favor of playing nine if we can. We'll see how it develops here in the next couple of weeks."

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