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ACC athletic directors consider expanded conference schedules

Last week, all 12 athletic directors from the ACC convened in Blacksburg for their annual fall meeting and one of the big topics of discussion was an expanded conference schedule for football and men's basketball.

Talk centered specifically around increasing the amount of conference games each ACC team plays -- from eight to nine games in football and from 16 to 18 games in basketball.

Virginia Tech athletic director Jim Weaver, who is the chair of the ACC's athletic director committee this year, said the added conference games have been discussed in the past and were put on the agenda this year after seeing what other conferences around the country have done.

The Pac-10 already plays nine conference football games, while the Big 12 will begin playing nine games next season when Nebraska and Colorado leave. The Big Ten has also discussed playing nine conference football games now that it will have 12 teams and two divisions beginning in the 2010-11 season.

In basketball, the Big East, Pac-10 and Big Ten all play 18-game conference slates already.

"There’s a lot more discussion that will have to occur before a vote is taken, in my opinion," Weaver said Monday. "We have not come to a resolution and I think it's a little premature for us in the ACC."

Virginia athletic director Craig Littlepage told The Post's Steve Yanda that one of the main reasons the expanded conference schedule has become more appealing is the rising costs of "guarantee games," that teams from BCS conferences use to fill out their non-conference schedules in football and basketball.

"Non-conference scheduling is becoming increasingly expensive for everybody," Littlepage said Monday. "And if there's a way that we could curb that to some degree, it would be attractive to me. ... I think many of our fans would prefer to see us playing more conference opponents, as opposed to playing some of the non-conference opponents that you see on all of our schedules across the country at the BCS level, and in particular in the ACC."

The changing conference schedules around the country already forced the Virginia Tech football team to cancel a scheduled home-and-home non-conference series with Kansas State in 2014 and 2016 after the Big 12 announced its plans to play nine conference games beginning next year. Weaver said Monday there was no progress to report on filling that spot on the schedule.

Like Weaver, Littlepage called the discussions "exploratory" at this point, but it's certainly interesting from a competitive standpoint. All those complaints about unbalanced schedules and Team A having an easier slate of conference games than Team B during a given season could be minimized to a certain extent with more conference games.

Be sure to check out all of Steve's post about this as Littlepage has some other intriguing thoughts on the issue.

By Mark Giannotto  | October 11, 2010; 5:02 PM ET
 
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