According to Dan Wolken of USA Today, the ACC has voted to keep the conference schedule at eight games, while mandating one additional game against an opponent from one of the other power conferences, or the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.
This may be the best path forward for the ACC. While scheduling multiple games against programs from the other power conferences would be ideal, this is a good starting point. And of course, there is nothing to keep each ACC team from scheduling additional games against other power conference teams if they so choose.
Maintaining a difficult schedule will be helpful for teams who hope to compete in the new playoff system, so it’s likely that most ACC teams will challenge themselves in their out-of-conference schedule anyway.
The other positive about this deal is that it sets a certain standard of difficulty without having the ACC schedule encroach on non-conference scheduling. When teams never play against quality opponents outside of their own conference, it becomes impossible to accurately assess the conference on its merits.
In the big picture, there isn’t a lot to learn about the ACC when the Florida State Seminoles beat the Clemson Tigers. Football fans learn about the overall strength of the ACC when the Seminoles play the Florida Gators, and when Clemson plays the South Carolina Gamecocks.
It could actually hurt the conference to expand ACC play to nine or more games. Eight conference games is plenty already. If the league wants to make further changes to its format, it should do whatever it can to dissolve the league’s divisions and allow for more flexible in-conference scheduling.