ACC says no to plan for ninth conference game

Updated: May 13, 2008, 7:10 PM ET
By Heather Dinich | ESPN.com

AMELIA ISLAND, Fla. -- Athletic directors of the Atlantic Coast Conference have decided to nix the possibility of adding a ninth conference game to the schedule, according to several people who attended a closed-door meeting involving the league's football coaches and ADs.

The discussion was held during the league's annual spring meetings. After hearing from their coaches, who were concerned that an increase in away league games could hurt their chances of qualifying for bowls, the league's ADs dropped the idea.

"We listened to the coaches and we've backed off the nine games," Clemson athletic director Terry Don Phillips said. "It's off the table for discussion."

Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe said at the end of the day, the coaches and ADs both agreed that the idea had the potential to cost the league's teams bowl bids.

"I think it's something that there's a lot of unknowns," Grobe said. "By doing that certainly it makes scheduling easier. But at the same time, it could potentially make your schedule a little tougher and maybe hurt you down the road as far as bowl games are concerned. Because if you play an extra game, half the teams in the league will guaranteed have another loss.

"There wasn't enough interest from either side -- the athletic directors or the football coaches -- to make that change."

Grobe's athletic director, Ron Wellman, agreed.

"The thing that swayed me was the unbalanced schedule, the fact that we would play five games every other year on the road in the conference while only having four home games," Wellman said. "This is such a balanced conference that that's a tough schedule."

The athletic directors had initially proposed the idea to help ease rising costs of scheduling nonconference games.

On Monday, coaches Bobby Bowden of Florida State and Butch Davis of North Carolina said they opposed the idea.

"I can't think of a single reason that a football coach would want it. … The difference between getting into a BCS bowl game and a lesser bowl game, it's not worth it," Bowden said.

"It was a pretty strong sentiment by the coaches that they feel like nine games was not what we wanted to do," Davis added.

Heather Dinich covers college football for ESPN.com.

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