- Heather Dinich, ESPN Staff Writer
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The SEC's recent decision to stick with an eight-game league schedule leaves the ACC as the lone conference among the power five that has yet to determine its future conference schedule, and the athletic directors throughout the ACC remain undecided as a potential vote could be just weeks away at the league's annual spring meetings in Amelia Island.
ESPN.com recently interviewed every athletic director in the ACC about scheduling preferences, and there was no overwhelming majority. Half of the athletic directors -- including a surprising vote from Georgia Tech, which already has a built-in rival against Georgia -- were in favor of a nine-game conference schedule. Three schools -- Boston College, Virginia Tech and North Carolina -- didn't give a specific preference, and three schools -- Duke, Clemson and Florida State -- would prefer to stay at eight games. Louisville AD Tom Jurich, who was simply thrilled to be a member of the conference this summer, was indifferent.
While no vote is guaranteed at the spring meetings, which will be held May 12-15, many athletic directors are hoping for some closure to the ongoing debate.
"I'm a believer that the nine-game schedule would be a win for the conference and I believe it would be a win for the University of Miami," Hurricanes athletic director Blake James told ESPN.com. "That's where I'm at with it. There's a lot of things you have to go through to get to that point, but I'm in favor of a nine-game conference schedule. It gives us, as a [newer] member in the league, more regularity of playing the teams in our conference. I want our fans to have the familiarity of everyone in the ACC."
Clemson athletic director Dan Radakovich had a different take.
"For Clemson, our position has been and continues to be an eight-game conference schedule," he said. "Part of the reason for that is we're one of the four schools that has an end-of-the-year out-of-conference rival. In essence, that gives us nine games of significance. In the years when Notre Dame will rotate onto the schedule, that will give us a 10th game of significance. If you have that trifecta of in-state rival, Notre Dame game and a ninth conference game, then you're looking at 11 games of significance."
Last week, Duke coach David Cutcliffe said the ACC coaches were in favor of sticking with the eight-game format, but the athletic directors have the final vote and have superseded the coaches before. In May 2012, the athletic directors voted in favor of a nine-game schedule only to revert to eight games after announcing a partnership with Notre Dame.
The league has decided to reconsider the format following its expansion to 14 teams with the most recent additions of Louisville, Pittsburgh and Syracuse. Factors being considering 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 rivals against SEC opponents that exist with some schools.
The ACC has not said whether a vote will officially take place next month, but league officials now have the SEC's decision to consider, too.
"I think voting on the future conference football schedule is extremely important," Wake Forest athletic director Ron Wellman said. "I don't know how much longer we can delay it."
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