ACC to review schedule format at league meetings could end rivalries
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Syracuse athletic director Daryl Gross wants a change to the Atlantic Coast Conference's current eight-game league schedule and league officials will discuss the possibility during meetings in late January.
Gross raised the possibility in email to the league's athletic directors and Commissioner John Swofford. The email was obtained by The Associated Press through a public records request and it calls for a discussion on the subject due to the large time gap between road games involving cross-division teams.
The Syracuse AD contends that certain programs are at a disadvantage when the schedule keeps them from regularly playing in major markets such as Boston, Atlanta and Miami.
One Gross suggestion is to have a nine-game conference schedule. The five conference teams that are left off one year must be on the schedule the following season.
That would likely eliminate some of the yearly rivalry games like Florida State-Miami.
"There are some playing-partner scheduling that simply don't need to be maintained," Gross wrote. "In fact I believe it would be in the best interest to prioritize playing multiple members of the conference over having a playing-partner.
"I do understand creating rivalry inventory however it may be better to be more creative with the rivalry concept annually than to force them over the long term."
North Carolina State athletic director Deborah Yow responded to Gross' email and confirmed that the topic will be placed on the agenda. She declined to elaborate on the subject when contacted by the AP.
Gross also declined to go into detail about the email when contacted by the AP, saying in a text, "It would be inappropriate for me to comment on working group conference items."
The eight-game format dictates that each team plays its entire division every year. There is also one standing game against an opponent from the opposite division. For example, Florida State plays Miami every year as does North Carolina State and North Carolina, Duke and Wake Forest. Each team also rotates through programs from the opposite division both home and away.
So, Syracuse played Georgia Tech in Atlanta this season but the Orange won't return for that game until 2027 at the earliest. Gross said this limits the exposure of teams in certain major markets.
Gross also believes there is also an effect on recruiting. He used Miami, known as a hotbed for talent, as an example. Teams from the Atlantic Division, except Florida State, have large gaps between games in Miami.
"The thought of a student-athlete returning to his home area to play in front of his family is minimized in one division and maximized in the other," Gross wrote.
Gross did have a section of the email labeled "Final Thoughts" that stated, "If we played everyone in the league equally our schedules would be much more robust giving our fans diverse schedules annually. Also our student-athletes would get exposures in all markets of the conference. Lastly we could maximize our television inventory by offering multiple and fresh match-ups."
Associated Press Writer Gary Fineout in Tallahassee, Fla., AP Sports Writers John Kekis in Syracuse, NY and Aaron Beard in Raleigh, N.C. contributed to this report.