Even Without SEC, ACC Still Planning to Keep 'Plus One' Format
The SEC's decision on Thursday to adopt a conference only football schedule for 2020 rather than follow the ACC's lead with a "10-plus-1" format was met with disappointment around commissioner John Swofford's geographic footprint -- especially from those schools whose traditional rivalry games can no longer be played.
It's a prevailing attitude best summarized in a statement issued by Clemson athletic director Dan Radakovich.
"Clemson aggressively lobbied to include an additional non-conference game for the primary purpose of maintaining our long-standing rivalry game with South Carolina," he said. "We're disappointed to hear of the scheduling decision announced by the SEC, as we know the importance of The Palmetto Bowl to the State of South Carolina."
The inability to play rivalry games such as Clemson-South Carolina, along with Florida State-Florida, Georgia Tech-Georgia and Louisville-Kentucky -- along with a scheduled matchup between NC State and Mississippi State at Carter-Finley Stadium -- has led to speculation that the ACC will scrap the "plus one" part of its schedule and stick to just the 10 conference games it announced on Wednesday.
But according to sources with knowledge of the situation at both NC State and the ACC, the league is committed to going forward with its announced format as planned.
According to a souce within the league, the ACC was "very purposeful" in its choice of a scheduling model.
The reason is primarily television, specifically the ACC Network.
"Those nonconference games are 15 opportunities for inventory for the ACC Network," another source said.
Even without with availability of SEC teams -- as well as those from the Big Ten and Pac-12, which have also adopted conference only philosphies -- there is no shortage of potential "plus-one" opponents.
Especially since the emphasis is on television programing rather than the quality of matchups. The only caveat is that the games must be played in the home state of the ACC team.
In addition to independents such as Brigham Young, UConn and Army, teams in the Mid-American, American Athletic and Sun Belt conferences are also looking to fill holes in their schedules. As are numerous FCS programs.
Among the possibilities for the Wolfpack is Liberty, which was already scheduled to play in Raleigh this season along with games against ACC members Virginia Tech and Syracuse.
Whomever State plays, it's likely to be a major letdown after the anticipation of playing a high-profile SEC opponent. Adding to the disappointment is that the Mississippi State game is the second attractive home date the Wolfpack has had canceled in the past three years through circumstances out of its control.
A game against West Virginia was wiped out by Hurricane Florence in 2018.
State athletic director Boo Corrigan is not available for comment to address the situation. Swofford, however, spoke for the entire conference Friday morning during an appearance on the ACC Network's Packer and Durham show.
"I was disappointed, but I would quickly add that was the SEC's decision to make," he said. "We took a different route as a conference. We were and are very comfortable with that route.
"We're all dealing with the same set of circumstances, in a sense. My disappointment is not really a criticism of the SEC, it's just the disappointment that those are quality games that from our standpoint could have been played, but now will not be played."