The ACC has moved back from its planned nine-game league schedule to eight games. The upshot for Georgia Tech is that it will see Atlantic Division opponents less frequently and may strengthen its non-conference schedule.
The impetus of the move, announced Wednesday at the end of the league’s fall meetings, was the five games that Notre Dame will play annually against ACC teams starting no later than 2014. The load on Tech, for instance, to play nine league games, Notre Dame and Georgia in the same season every three years was considered a bit too heavy.
As a result, Tech and other ACC schools now have openings to fill. With the nine-game format in place since February, Tech has only three non-conference opponents lined up through 2015, and only two in 2016. Anticipating the switch, Tech associate athletic director Ryan Bamford said that he has had conversations with “like institutions” in the Big Ten and the Big East about home-and-home games for 2013 and 2014.
“We’ve got a couple people that might be interested,” said Bamford, who hoped that deals could come together in a few weeks.
When Pittsburgh and Syracuse join the league next fall, teams will play six division games, one game against its primary crossover partner and one against another inter-divisional opponent. Tech will keep Clemson as its permanent partner but will only play other Atlantic Division teams, including Florida State, once every six years.
It obviously means a slower rotation through the opposite division. In the present format, any given team plays every team in the other division home and away in a five-year period. For Tech, that means Florida State (and every other Atlantic Division team besides Clemson) will come to Bobby Dodd Stadium once every 12 years. Notre Dame, by comparison, will likely play in Atlanta once every six years.
No other details about scheduling, including the rotations for Notre Dame or inter-divisional play, were released. Most coaches, including Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson, had been in favor of an eight-game schedule vs. a nine-game schedule. Particularly for Clemson, Florida State and Tech, which have an annual rivalry game with an SEC opponent, they felt that it would create an overly demanding schedule and also leave less room to play non-conference home games.
Tech has non-conference games for 2013 against Georgia, BYU and Elon. Earlier this year, Tech canceled the second half of its four-game series with BYU (games in 2014 and 2017) thinking that it would only have room for three non-conference games each year.
Georgia Tech’s basketball teams also received a surprise. With the league reverting to having two primary partners with its 14-team, 18-game league schedule, Tech kept Clemson and added Notre Dame. (Wake Forest, which has been Tech’s other partner besides Clemson, will have Duke and N.C. State.) Both the Irish men’s and women’s teams are among the best in the country. The Notre Dame men’s team has averaged 22.8 wins over the past five seasons and has qualified for the NCAA tournament five of the past six seasons, never worse than a No. 7 seed. The Notre Dame women’s team has reached the championship game each of the past two seasons.
The conference tournament will continue to include every team and will now start on a Wednesday and run through Sunday.
The baseball tournament will expand from eight to 10 teams, with double-elimination games running Tuesday through Friday with single-elimination games Saturday with the Sunday championship game.
Ken Sugiura, Georgia Tech blog