If you haven’t been under a rock this week then you know that the biggest issue discussed by the Atlantic Coast Conference – quickly becoming the “can’t leave well enough alone crowd” – at the annual meeting was the issue of how many games should comprise the annual basketball schedule.
Up for debate – should the conference join the Big East and Big Ten will join the Pac-10 and play an 18-game conference schedule this next basketball season (as opposed to the league’s traditional 16 game schedule).
The ‘reasoning’ behind the emergence of this issue is simple — more conference games allows the league to sell more games in its television package and therefore make more money. More specifically, Caulton Tudor says, “It’s not that an 18-game schedule would necessarily increase the size of the TV check after the league’s current contract expires after the 2010-2011 season. But going to 18 should be enough to keep the ACC from having to accept a less lucrative contract during the next round of negotiations.”
The coaches dislike the idea very much. But who are they? They must be the only people on earth who don’t know that a bunch of presidents and athletics administrators are the real stars of the conference. Who ever heard of Everett Case, Dean Smith, Coach K, Norm Sloan, Jim Valvano, Lefty Driesell, Bobby Cremmins, Gary Williams or Roy Williams anyway?
For now, the decision has been made to stick with 16 games. But, Caulton Tudor is dead-on when he says that eventually the ACC will play an 18-game schedule.
What worries the coaches as much as the number 18 is what would come next. An 18-game schedule would work for a while, but then what? A 20-game schedule, that’s what. Then at some point in the future, 22.
For ACC head coaches, it’s a double-edged sword. Television income is a big reason why most of them earn more than a million dollars a year. But the need for that TV money eventually will create two more difficult games to win each season.
And winning conference games in the ACC isn’t easy. The perfect example last season was Duke, which lost 11 games overall but only twice to non-conference opponents.
Lose enough ACC conference games and anyone could become the next Matt Doherty or Pete Gillen.
Other prominent leagues are moving in the same direction. The Big Ten and Big East soon will go to 18 games, and as much as the Pacific-10 coaches have clamored for a reduction from 18 to 16, league ADs haven’t jumped aboard.
Additionally, this link will take you to Tudor’s podcast.
Being an ACC purist, I very much dislike the idea of expanding the league’s schedule. Much like the expansion issue a few years ago – I do not believe that the small marginal financial benefit of the move is worth the cost of dilution of competitiveness and long-standing traditions that breed such a special environment in the ACC.
However, being a realist dictates that I understand this move (unfortunately) is imminent. With that said, IF the move must be made…then it needs to be made as perfectly as possible. IMHO, this means that the conference MUST alter its basketball format to include two divisions that mirror the football divisions.
Coach K has been the most high-profile coach to take this suggestion public with an endorsement. The Charlotte Observer quickly featured K’s comments in this article.
Krzyzewski would like to see the ACC split into two six-team divisions for basketball, as it did in football. Each team would play divisional opponents twice and non-divisional opponents once each season for a total of 16 ACC games.
That format would make teams’ schedules — at least among divisional rivals — more equitable, he said. “It would give everyone a clearer picture for assessing a team’s record when it comes to post-season opportunities,” Krzyzewski said.
Krzyzewski recently consulted with South Carolina’s Dave Odom — a former Wake Forest coach — about the divisional format. Odom likes it because it provides equity among divisional opponents and predictability in scheduling and because it reduces the stigma for teams that finish at the bottom.
The N&O’s ACCNow blogged some good commentary on the topic.
After highlighting the problems with the current imbalanced schedule they make the mistake of comparing a proposed 18-game schedule to the unreachable ideal of a round-robin schedule in the following comments:
Eighteen would be an improvement, both competitively and fiscally, but it’s still not a round-robin. The divisions wouldn’t bring any sense of equality, actually they’d only cause a further disparity since under the current schedule, only one team — Georgia Tech — played UNC and Duke twice. In a division format, the four teams in the same division would be at a disadvantage compared to the ones that play Carolina and Duke twice.
The round robin is forever lost; so, let it go. The two alternatives that ultimately remain are: (1) continuing with severe/significant imbalance or (2) shifting to a divisional format.
A divisional format may not bring ‘equality’ as the N&O puts it; but the format would bring significant and much needed standardization and consistency to annual schedules.
For everyone that wants to complain about having both Duke and Carolina in their division, (sarcasm) I’m sure the football coaches at the same schools would love to trade divisions and give up their annual games with Duke and Carolina. Folks, it generally comes out in the wash.
We ask that you go “On the Record” with us on this topic and share your thoughts in the comments section below.
VaWolf, I don’ t know if you read Tudor’s entire article…but he shared a quote in it that I thought was screaming your name:
Duke and Carolina, which face the most difficult conference schedules
Personally, I don’t know if this conclusion is accurate or not. But, I’ve got a feeling that you have already done the research that corroborates/dis-proves this statement. The next couple of days would be a great time to re-address your past work on the topic.