Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Oh the ACC….

While we are on the schedule issue, I heard an interview with Clemson Associate Athletic Director Kyle Young where he discussed the 2012 schedule and the future of current out of conference matchups.

As was mentioned yesterday the delay in the 2012 football schedule announcement was due to West Virginia dropping Florida State and Georgia Tech rearranging their schedule to accommodate the Labor Day matchup with Virginia Tech.

There are several important takeaways from the interview, first is that the ACC allows member institutions to schedule their own non-conference schedule prior to making the conference schedule. This is important from the perspective that Clemson has the ability and has had the ability to schedule a Football Championship Subdivision opponent the week before the South Carolina game.  Young stated in the interview that efforts were made to adjust the 2012 schedule to reflect what has become a perceived advantage for South Carolina but Clemson was unable to make any changes to the 2012 docket.

That said, Young announced that Clemson will take on The Citadel at Clemson the week before traveling to Columbia in 2013. I have to give the folks at Jervey credit for trying but why did it take the Southeastern Conference taking action before the Atlantic Coast Conference? That question is probably best left unanswered. In the ACC's defense the SEC takes a more rigid approach to scheduling which does not allow for much flexibility.

Another big issue going moving forward is the status of future non-conference games, primarily with Georgia, who is scheduled to come to Clemson in 2013 and the Tigers traveling to Athens in 2014. The challenge with keeping the Georgia game on the schedule was the announcement that the ACC once Pittsburgh and Syracuse are added will move to a nine game conference football schedule.

The Big East has a 27-month waiting period to exit but after the departure of West Virginia to the Big 12 and the addition of new member schools to the Big East, it is assumed by many that Pittsburgh and Syracuse will join the ACC in 2013. The nine game conference ledger does not make for good fiscal policy given the five and four rotation on home games. The new model does not incentivize high profile home and home matchups given the fact that a school could end up with only six home games. I do not know the exact number but only having six home games would be a significant hit to the Clemson Athletic Department balance sheet. Young alluded to the reality that football pays the bills for a lot of other sports and decisions will have to be made accordingly.

All of this leads me to Young’s reaction to the question of whether or not the Georgia game will be played next year which was less than encouraging. He said, “I hope the Georgia game will be played.” That is disappointing to say the least. Here is the reality, Clemson will have five home conference games in seasons where Clemson travels to Columbia. Next season Clemson would have five home conference games, including a visit by Georgia. In 2014 Clemson would have only four home conference games, a visit from South Carolina, and six road games including the trip to Athens. It just does not add up from a competitive standpoint and from a fiscal stand point. Unfortunately, the Georgia matchup seems like it is in serious jeopardy thanks to the move by the ACC.

I did read an article where the SEC is looking at a nine game conference schedule but there seems to be a lack of support for such a move. As we know the SEC will add Texas A&M and Missouri this year and will do so while playing an eight game conference schedule. Given the current sentiment among member schools in the SEC, the Clemson game would still be a viable option for Georgia. If the SEC goes to a nine game conference schedule, then you can forget about the Clemson-Georgia series.

There is never a dull moment within the Clemson Athletic Department. A lot of tough decisions are going to have to be made by the folks at Jervey as we look to the future from a fiscal perspective and as the landscape of the ACC changes. I will leave you with this….Does public sentiment outweigh meeting the financial obligations of the organization?

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