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Late to the Party--Thoughts on ACC Scheduling, Notre Dame, and the Orange Bowl

The Atlantic Coast Conference has given us two big announcements since the start of football season. Basically, I have been busy focusing on this football season and haven't really gotten into what adding Notre Dame means nor have I discussed the excellent decision that the ACC made in maintaining the eight game conference schedule. I'll chat about the schedule first, then Notre Dame and intertwine the Orange Bowl agreement somewhere in this discussion.

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The ACC finally made a decision that actually helps Clemson a week and a half ago. Yes, I was as shocked as you. No, I didn't forget about this topic but haven't given my take either. I never thought I would be so happy about a move a major conference has made based on Notre Dame, but the decision to maintain an eight game conference schedule is awesome. Personally, I would be fine with fewer conference games--particularly those against Atlantic teams that don't have the word "Tech" or "Miami" in their names--but that will not happen. I am equally unexcited about the possibility of adding a Syracuse or Pitt to the schedule, but such is the cost of progress.

By playing eight conference games and passing Notre Dame around amongst the ACC teams' schedules, we essentially get the opportunity to play more teams that I really want to play--hopefully the CUAD and the people from Georgia can specifically hook this game up on a more annual basis. I liked the Auburn series and really would have enjoyed a series with Ole Miss. I am lukewarm about playing Oklahoma State but would rather partake in that activity than the ninth conference game. If we can't play Georgia every year, I definitely wouldn't mind a home and home with Tennessee. If we get really froggy, I could find a way to justify excitement around playing on the West Coast, putting something together with a Michigan State, or taking a trip to Austin.

As it stands with the Clemson Athletics Department, I believe there is really one requirement: Minimum of seven (7) home games and/or participation in neutral site game(s) that provide a hefty payout. This means four (4) ACC road games and a maximum of one (1) other road game-meaning we could not play a road contest outside of ACC play in the same season we play at Williams-Brice. The logic behind these rules is simple: Clemson's AD needs the extra revenue provided by that seventh home game. This season is gravy for our AD as Clemson has seven home games AND gets paid to head to the Georgia Dome to play a game that most fans were excited to see. While the neutral site games are a little disappointing for fans who travel to away games, they do reward teams by playing a bigger football school without giving up revenue typically lost in the away year of home and home scheduling.

In the comments section, be sure to let us know which matchups you would like to see moving forward. There is not much we can do to get it scheduled, but this conversation is always a fun one.

Notre Dame's addition to the ACC was really Swofford's necessary move to save this conference. Trust me, the addition of Syracuse is not going to keep Florida State from jumping ship (I would like to say the same about Clemson, but I don't think we would have left on our own). Now, maybe the ridiculous buyout implemented could keep you from moving conferences, but that is likely it. College football was moving forward and it looked as though the ACC would be left out in the cold (SEC/Big 12 with a big deal for effectively a trip to the Cotton Bowl & the B1G/Pac 12 renewing their commitments to the Rose Bowl). All this is in the background of some sort of semi-playoff system.

While the ACC was getting squeezed, another "traditional" power was feeling the pressure from this deal: Notre Dame. The trick for Notre Dame was assuring it wouldn't get left out in the cold AND while still cashing in on all that NBC money. The ACC got some favorable regular season matchups and what should be the ability to renegotiate television contracts, though I am not certain on the latter. What the ACC really wants is to be able to bring Notre Dame completely into the football fold following the expiration of their NBC contract. The ACC will then need to find a 16th team, assuming there are no defectors between now and then.

Fortunately for the ACC, Notre Dame is still a big name in spite of its fall from grace over the past 20 years. Further, I am not sure how lucrative having Notre Dame football is for NBC (NBC has trailed both CBS and ABC in those football time slots the past couple years and I've heard/read that NBC's ratings plunged over the past few years and into last season). I do believe one of their goals is to assure that somehow, someway, they maintain major college football on NBC. I believe the current Notre Dame/NBC deal expires following the 2015 season.

As for Notre Dame in the ACC...I guess they will provide some immediate exposure in basketball. I have never really heard of the Irish as a baseball threat and don't know much about the golf. In my opinion, the near-term five game football scheduling, the fact that Notre Dame is pretty much married to the ACC and, if forced to lose their football independence, will end up in the ACC are the biggest upsides here for the ACC. The way this football landscape is moving, you have to think that to be involved in a relevant National Championship conversation you will have to be a part of a conference. Taking that one step further, I believe we will have the 16 team superconferences in the not too distant future.

How all the $$$ from any revised television deal plays out determines how I look at the conference. We are already climbing an uphill battle in football because no one can go out make big noise on the national scene (well, can't go out and make positive noise at least).