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The ACC's Michael Strickland Sheds Light on Conference Football Schedule Creation

If you're like me, you might've wanted to know more about this process.

Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

After Syracuse Orange football's 2016 schedule was announced (along with the rest of the ACC's) on Tuesday, we had some questions and reactions. Other fan bases did too, as they and we always do. Lucky us, the ACC (probably proactively) ran an interview with its Senior Associate Commissioner of Football Michael Strickland, describing exactly how the conference schedule was created this year. We grab some quotes and provide some reactions below.

The weekend of October 22 in noteworthy with six teams having open dates. Was that something you had in mind as you began building the schedule for this season?

"This season, we worked particularly hard to position as many byes in the middle of the schedule as possible. With 14 institutions, certainly that is a tall order. However, our average bye week is 7.0 – perfectly situated in the middle of the schedule. That 7.0 average is the best average placement of all Power 5 Conferences. Also, the notion of having a bye before a certain opponent as being a significant advantage is not the case. Over the past three seasons, in conference games, teams coming off of a bye week are 29-25."

On the first sentence, thanks! Otherwise we would've ended up with a week two bye again. Obviously Syracuse could just eliminate this game of roulette and schedule a game in week two. Let's do that?

The bye week placement average is significant, I guess? Also means there will be some boring weekends of ACC football with minimal matchups scheduled in that middle-week cluster.

How many schedule models did you run before settling on a final one, and was it a typical number?

"Mathematicians would tell you there are millions of potential schedule combinations, but based upon our schedule parameters, goals and objectives, this season we reviewed 329 total viable schedules and we selected schedule model No. 321 as the optimal schedule."

So for those of you betting on No. 44, 144 or 244, you're out of luck.

Many "marquee" prime time games are already built into the schedule, particularly opening (Labor Day) weekend. But in looking on the games scheduled for Saturdays, do you see potential for a number of others?

"Thanks to our partnership with ESPN, our access to Saturday Night Football on ABC, and the overall strength of our football programs, the ACC and its member institutions are extremely well-positioned for Saturday night game opportunities. Certainly, as the season unfolds those slots are awarded to the most accomplished teams, and those opportunities have to be earned, but our schedule has been constructed in such a way that we believe it will maximize the exposure opportunities for our most-deserving teams."

We addressed this a bit on Wednesday. Syracuse could be on ESPN a number of times this year, and has at least one legitimate shot at a Saturday primetime date (Notre Dame). If the season unfolds well, the Orange could potentially add some more. Stressing could.

Boston College and Georgia Tech open the season in Dublin, Ireland. Is it possible yet to gauge the full significance of that game and what it might mean for ACC schedules going forward?

"ACC Worldwide remains a relatively new initiative for the ACC and its member institutions, and we are eager to learn just how valuable this and other opportunities like this will be. We certainly are expecting the Boston College and Georgia Tech contingents to have a fantastic time in Dublin playing in the Aer Lingus Classic. Game organizers hope this can become a semi-annual affair, and ACC member institutions are interested in exploring more opportunities for such life-changing experiences."

Prep yourself to scream and cry when Syracuse-Clemson gets sent to Australia or something... also, "ACC Worldwide" has "Prestige Worldwide" written all over it, no?

The ACC again wraps up its regular season with a number of traditional rivalry games, but there are some changes to the final regular-season weekend from the past two years. What brought on those changes?

"Establishing a consistent set of match-ups to end our season became a focus for us a few seasons ago; this coming year, however, we had to make some changes to those match-ups due to non-conference scheduling dynamics. Both Wake Forest and Duke were open in week 2, so it was either have them play against one another or have both take their only bye of the season and close the season with games in 11 consecutive weeks. With the latter being untenable, we made some minor adjustments to the final week's match-ups, which we expect will be a one-time modification."

This is probably the most important bit, for a number of reasons. First, they say it's untenable to force teams to have a week two bye, yet Syracuse was dealt one in 2014. There wasn't one last year, nor this year, however. So perhaps they mean it when they try to prevent that really bad bye situation (especially because it's completely self-induced).

On the final week switch-up, seems we're going back to the regularly-scheduled Syracuse-Boston College game the Saturday after Thanksgiving next year. So that's good or bad, depending on your perspective.


So, good to see some of the thinking that went into all of this. And I guess it's great to hear they're avoiding week two byes whenever possible in the future. Of course, it was Duke that would've been subjected to it this time, so we'll see what happens when it's us again (as it could've been this year too, admittedly) or Virginia Tech or BC or another "non-original" program.

Anything else stand out? Share your thoughts below.