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ACC May Add Conference Games, Retain Rivalries

How a season unlike any other may look.

Earlier this month, as we were learning about power-five conferences like the Big Ten and the Pac-12 opting for conference-only athletic schedules in the fall, I penned a piece about how geography behooved several college football programs to retain their rivalry games. Those matchups aren't just the ones fans love most, they also seem safer than traversing what can often be a very broad geographic conference footprint. 

Well it looks like the ACC may be pursuing something along those lines. According to a recent report, the conference is looking to preserve its great non-conference rivalries, with each team playing just one. But to make up for the games lost, the ACC may expand its conference slate, stretching from eight games to 10 for an 11-game schedule. 

So this is rather curious. A lot of the smaller schools eliminated from teams' schedules are there because they're a relatively quick trip. For instance, Florida State hosting Samford, which is located in Birmingham, Alabama, just five hours away. That's a shorter trip than any other contest on the Seminoles' schedule, save the two-hour trek the Gators will make from Gainesville to Tallahassee. 

And there are plenty of games like this to be found on the current ACC slate. Clemson is set to host The Citadel. Louisville is supposed to play Murray State and Western Kentucky. NC State has Liberty scheduled, and Syracuse is welcoming Colgate. Duke has Elon and Charlotte teed up, UVA is set to face VMI, as well as Old Dominion.

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Small schools like these tend to rely heavily on paychecks from P5 programs to sustain not just their football teams, but a good portion of their athletics budgets as well. However, with conferences like the Ivy League, SIAC, and SWAC already having suspended sports through the fall semester, there's an honest concern about how many FCS -- or even G5 -- teams will even be competing come fall. 

But let's get to the ACC. How will the extra games for each team be decided upon? Geographically? By existing strength of schedule? Are more games being added to help round out Notre Dame's schedule? And which teams would play the Irish, perhaps the conference's second best team, if it's considered an ACC squad for 2020? Will there still be a conference title game? And finally, is dialing the season back from 12 games to 11 really that much safer for student athletes, coaches, and support staffs?

The questions outnumber the answers, but we're going to get responses soon, as the ACC has announced its plans to define the coming season by late July.