ACC happy with autonomy, but scheduling questions remain

ACC happy with autonomy, but scheduling questions remain
August 8, 2014, 5:30 pm
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(Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports)

With autonomy now a reality for the power conferences barring something dramatic in the next 60 days, big changes are coming for the ACC.

As one of the power conferences, the ACC will consider multiple issues in the coming days leading up to the Oct. 1 deadline that they would like to address outside of the rules of the NCAA. This could lead to a dramatic change in the current college football landscape.

The possibility of major changes doesn’t bother ACC Commissioner John Swofford one bit. In fact, it was the need for change that prompted this move in the first place.

Following the NCAA Board of Directors vote to grant autonomy, Swofford released the following statement:

“The approval of the steering committee’s report on restructuring by the NCAA Board of Directors is a positive and necessary step in the continued efforts to ensure that we have a more effective and nimble NCAA moving forward. These changes will allow us to continue to prioritize how to better address the needs of our institutions, athletic programs and, most importantly, our student-athletes. I applaud Nathan Hatch, Wake Forest President and Chair of the NCAA’s Board of Directors and Steering Committee, for his effective efforts throughout this significant time of change. As we implement the new structure, we must continue to recognize how special the collegiate model is to the educational system within our country and culture.”

One issue the ACC must now consider for a more “effective and nimble” NCAA is scheduling.

With the new College Football Playoff in place, strength of schedule is expected to be a major factor in the committee’s selection process. With that in mind, there are many coaches pushing for power conferences to only schedule teams from the other power conferences.

Not all coaches, however, are in favor of this model. Just ask Steve Spurrier.

In a poll conducted by ESPN, coaches from the power conferences were asked if they would favor all of the power conferences scheduling all non-conference games against other power conference teams. Though the majority of coaches were in favor of this model, the majority of ACC coaches were not.

Frank Beamer was one of only four ACC coaches who said they would prefer scheduling only power conference teams. Six coaches said they would not and four, including Virginia’s Mike London, were undecided.

Should this pass, it would certainly mean better games. To use Virginia Tech’s current schedule as an example, this would mean replacing teams like William & Mary (FCS), East Carolina (AAC) and Western Michigan (MAC). What if those games were replaced by Tennessee, Wisconsin and West Virginia (future Virginia Tech opponents)?

With all due respect to the FCS, few would be upset if there were fewer FBS vs. FCS matchups. The rare Appalachian State, James Madison upset over ranked teams are not enough to justify to the fans being subjected to a yearly snoozer.

The problem, however, is that it would also mean fewer marquee matchups for teams like Boise State and East Carolina, teams that remain consistently competitive against the power conference teams. Boise State is better than Colorado, but Boise State would no longer be an option.

The power conferences may finally have autonomy, but there is still a lot of work to do and a lot of tough decisions to make.

[RELATED: ACC, Maryland reach settlement]