ACC Football Scheduling: How Can the ACC Better Position Itself for a Playoff Spot?

Examining Strength of Schedule and What ACC Teams Need to Do to Make the Playoff

Examining Strength of Schedule and What ACC Teams Need to Do to Make the Playoff

As you might’ve noticed earlier today, we linked to a piece from SB Nation’s Team Speed Kills entitled “How Much Will Schedule Strength Affect Playoff Selection?” — which effectively dissects the merits (or lack thereof) of scheduling tougher in order to get a playoff spot. The impetus for such an article, of course, is the flurry of recent news regarding the number of conference games. When announcing its divisional realignment the other day, the Big Ten upped its conference slate to nine games, while the Pac-12 is actually discussing moving down to eight (from the current nine). Even the SEC, which has been with the ACC in the “remain at eight” boat briefly mentioned a nine-game schedule during its SEC Network press conference today. So with two alternatives seemingly on the table again, what scheduling setup makes the most sense for the ACC if it hopes to place its top team(s) in the four-team College Football Playoff?

To start, the ACC obviously has two disadvantages when it comes to pursuing a nine-game conference schedule. One of these — out-of-conference rivalries — is a shared issue with the SEC. The other, unique to the ACC, is the Notre Dame scheduling agreement. As of 2014, at least four ACC schools will have annual in-state matchups with SEC schools on the books, effectively locking them (Clemson, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Louisville) into a ninth game on top of the eight-game conference schedule. The Notre Dame arrangement, which has the Irish playing five ACC games per year, brings that total to 10 for those teams in select years. Those same teams will likely also be at five home games and five road games by that point, making for a less-than-ideal scheduling demand of two guaranteed home dates and little calendar flexibility. If the ACC were to add a ninth game, those teams would be locked into 11 games against major-conference competition, and might also need to take a hit on home games (hosting six total, instead of seven). For schools like FSU and Clemson, it’s a tough financial hit to take, especially without an ACC Network off the ground yet.

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Hypothetical College Football Playoffs 2003-2011; And What It All Means for the ACC

The College Football Playoff Format is Beginning to Take Shape; We Take a Look at What it Means for the ACC

The BCS conference commissioners and Presidential Oversight Committee have been hammering out the details of a college football playoff system in Denver today, and additional information has continued to emerge. Here’s what we know so far:

  • Six bowls (Orange, Sugar, Rose already locked in)
    • Orange (ACC vs. SEC/B1G/Notre Dame)
    • Sugar (SEC vs. Big 12)
    • Rose (B1G vs. Pac-12)
  • Top bowls being considered for other three slots include Fiesta, Chick-fil-a and Cotton
  • These games will rotate as the sites for the two semifinal games each year, 12 seasons, starting with the 2014 postseason
  • Top-ranking team from “Group of Five” conferences (Big East, MWC, MAC, C-USA, Sun Belt) granted automatic berth into one of the big-money bowl games
  • Revenue split has been decided though not released, but likely to see Big Five conferences take in around 80 percent of playoff earnings (split equally), versus 20 percent for Group of Five.

While obviously it’s great to see the ACC’s seat at the table assuredly for the foreseeable future, there are some issues that may arise — some of which can be ironed out as negotiations continue. One of particular concern to me, however, is the landing spot for an ACC team when the Orange Bowl is one of the semifinal spots. The conference has only placed one team (Virginia Tech in 2007) in the final four from 2003 through 2012. Given the unavoidable fact that the ACC champion is very often outside of the top eight (likely guaranteed) spots, where does that team go if there’s no Orange Bowl? And, out of the 12 spots, seven have already been decided upon, with the ACC, Pac-12 and Big 12 only possessing one apiece at the moment. It’s likely the additional access bowls will not have rigid guidelines for its invites, but the ACC must ensure it receives at least a loose tie-in in order to stay competitive. With the Fiesta Bowl and Cotton Bowl likely to latch on to either the Big 12, Pac-12 or both, the likely addition is a Chick-fil-a tie-in that may match us up with the Big East champ more often than not. But again, this is not guaranteed — yet is essential for the league to avoid also-ran status among the Big Five. To illustrate further, here’s a look at what the 2003-2011 seasons could have looked like under the playoff format. Bowl rotations were made up here for simplicity’s sake, and do not reflect what we know to this point:

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Conference Realignment: Addressing the Issue of Notre Dame

How Much Longer Will Notre Dame Be Held Up By College Football’s Power Conferences?

With the college football playoff off the agenda, we now return to our typical offseason programming: conference realignment. But of course, the playoff and realignment are sort of related now, aren’t they? Especially when it comes to the fate of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team, college sports’ most valuable property in many opinions. As such a property, no one was all that surprised when the school’s athletic director, John Swarbrick, was in attendance at the playoff meetings while other independents (such as “Notre Dame of the West,” BYU) were not invited to the proceedings at all. But how much longer will that be the case?

Under the old BCS system, Notre Dame would receive $4.5 million in payouts whenever it made it to one of the big-money bowls (which it did three times in 14 seasons) and $1.3 million in seasons it wasn’t good enough to qualify. The team also got preferential treatment compared to the other teams: an automatic bid if it finished among the top eight in the rankings. There’s no word yet on how much the school will make in the new playoff format, but obviously, their chances of participation in this event have diminished considerably versus the BCS. While on the other hand, it would appear their chances at a big-money bowl just went up. Since 1998 (the first year of the BCS), the school never finished the regular season higher than ninth, and would have been ineligible for a BCS game in all but two seasons (2000 and 2005). In the new system though, there would be no qualifications for a big money bowl, meaning as long as the Irish went at least 9-3, they’d probably still get an invite. Sounds like a good deal on paper, right? Continue reading

College Football Playoff Format, Explained by SB Nation’s Jason Kirk (Video)

In case you lack the patience to read any of the sprawling articles about Tuesday’s glorious college football playoff announcement, SB Nation’s Jason Kirk breaks it down for you in simpler fashion: video. Check it out below to educate yourself on the ins and outs of the playoffs, the unanswered questions and of course, the early winners and losers (at first glance, at least).

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College Football Playoffs Are Finally Here!

With a College Football Playoff, Fans Have Scored the Biggest Victory of All

Somehow, THIS happened yesterday. From years of moaning and complaining, to best-seller “Death to the BCS,” and an all-SEC title game — suddenly, everyone in charge came to their senses. All 11 conference commissioners, plus Notre Dame‘s John Swarbrick, got in a room together and actually (for once) listened to the fans of their game. We wanted a playoff. Well, we finally got one… or at least, the beginnings of the one we’d really prefer.

Believe me, I’m not going to be an ingrate about this. I understand that it’s taken well over 100 years for the sport to adopt the same system of determining a champ that literally every other athletic organization in the world has used since day one. But, I can’t deny how much I’m holding out hope for bracket creep, and the eventual growth of the tournament out to at least six or eight teams. I’ve always been of the mindset that asks, “What’s better than one of the things you really like? Two of the things you really like,” so it’s only natural that I (along with most college football fans) would want to watch even more nerve-wracking, late-season football. Continue reading

College Football Playoffs: How BCS Success May Help ACC’s Earnings Share

Virginia Tech and Florida State Lead the ACC in BCS Achievement, But They Aren’t the Only Ones to See Success

The Daily Press’ David Teel brought up an interesting point last week about how well the ACC would fare if college football playoff revenue were distributed based on previous BCS performance. The catch, as has been rumored elsewhere as well, is that it would count everything from 1998 through today, and your league would be evaluated on membership in 2014, with no regard to previous alignments. So any team that’s joined the ACC since 1998, so long as they’re still in the conference, those numbers count for the ACC. This is where the power five conferences have a monumental advantage over everyone else. But can the ACC really count on previous success to help out its financial future?

While we get all worked up about the league’s issue of parity for the past five seasons or so, looking at the overall BCS figures do tell a slightly different story. Florida State and Virginia Tech appeared in eight and 10 final BCS rankings, respectively — each showing a remarkable amount of staying power over the 14-year time period. Additionally, in nine of the 14 seasons accounted for, the ACC had at least one team in the top 10. In 2000, they had three of the top five, and in 1999, they had the top two teams (again, remember that all current schools count, so VPI’s title game appearance vs, FSU that year is two tallies for the ACC). The team-by-team numbers, indicating appearances in the final BCS rankings, and average rank in those seasons: Continue reading

College Football Playoffs Have Finally Arrived (Say Conference Commissioners)

A College Football Playoff (And Annual Games Like Stanford-Oklahoma State) Is a Few Mere Approvals Away From Being Official

Finally! After long, long last college football appears to have a playoff system ready and waiting to name a champion once 2014 rolls around. As agreed upon by the conference commissioners, the four-team model will pit the top four schools against one another, irregardless of league affiliation. The BCS is dead, the sites will rotate amongst the current larger bowl spots (plus a few, we assume), and the title game will be shopped out to cities for bidding on what will quickly become the country’s second-largest sporting event (behind only the Super Bowl).

With this basic framework in place, all the commissioners need to do is head on back to their conference presidents and get a big ‘APPROVED’ stamp on the proposal. Unless the Big Ten suddenly sees a stodgy, traditionalist mutiny, this only appears to be a formality. There’s still another issue, however, which will take a good deal of time to address (luckily, we have a few seasons to work it all out): How will the participants be chosen?

Talks in Chicago gathered several ideas, including a football-equivalent of the RPI (Sagarin rankings!), strength of schedule and conference championship components, and a selection committee. Together, this mashup of methods will produce our four teams, and because of the human element (yes, I’m a proponent), I’d say we’ll end up with the “right” four teams far more often than not. That is, if they construct the committee correctly. Continue reading