Q&A: Scheduling ACC Baseball


Rivals Florida State and Miami play a three-game series this weekend, and North Carolina-NC State are set to play one game in Durham later in April. Neither matchup will count in the ACC standings.
To find out why, theACC.com sat down with Kris Pierce, ACC Senior Associate Commissioner for Championships, who is the ACC office liaison for baseball and manages the sport’s operations.

In general, how are schedules planned and created for ACC sports?
The conversation begins with the coaches groups as to the number of games and schedule models they prefer.  All scheduling parameters are then approved by the Senior Woman Administrators (SWAs), Athletic Directors (ADs) and Faculty Athletic Representatives (FARs) from all of the schools.
Why are Florida State-Miami and North Carolina-NC State not counted in the conference standings?
The short answer is because they are not scheduled to play as regular season opponents by the ACC.  The ACC schedules 30 games (10 series) for each school, with each school playing six divisional series and four crossover series.  Therefore, each team will miss three ACC opponents.  Since Florida State-Miami and North Carolina-NC State are not divisional opponents, they rotate off each other's schedule. The schools decided to add the rivalries this year as part of their nonconference schedules.
What is the recent history of the ACC baseball schedule that has led to this year?
Previously, each team played a 30-game schedule, but only missed one ACC opponent due to the fact that we had 12 baseball playing members.  Now, with 14 baseball playing members, the number of missed opponents increases to three.  The biggest factor in this is that our league felt it was best to keep the number of games at 30 to allow for appropriate nonconference opportunities early in the season.  
Could anything have been done to prevent the rivalries from being absent on the ACC schedule this year?
We begin working on the baseball schedule for the 2014 season in the summer of 2012.  When Pittsburgh was announced as a baseball playing member in September of 2011, the league began discussing what a 13-team baseball schedule would look like.  Obviously, with 13 teams, it creates a bye each week due to the uneven number of teams, and would require 12 weeks to complete a 30-game schedule.  The league was working towards this schedule for 2014 until the announcement in March of 2013 that Notre Dame would be joining the league for the 2013-2014 academic year.  At that point, the league had to work to create a 14-team baseball schedule.  Rivalry partners were not requested as a scheduling parameter at that time.
Did the league and the coaches’ committee make any other changes to the schedule?
With the increase in missed opponents from one to three and with the addition of two-time CWS participant Louisville, the league felt it was beneficial to move to a 10-team ACC Championship (from the eight-team format in the past). While competitive equity was a primary reason for moving to a 10-team tournament, the league also felt that it best positioned our teams for NCAA berths. The event has set numerous attendance records the past few years, and we look forward to another exciting tournament this May when the season culminates at NewBridge Bank Park in Greensboro. 
Looking ahead, what model is the ACC going to use for scheduling?
The biggest change will be the addition of primary playing partners.  Our schools felt strongly that some rivalry series such as Florida State-Miami, North Carolina-NC State and Georgia Tech-Clemson be played each year.  Therefore, primary playing partners from the opposite division will become a scheduling parameter beginning in 2015.  We will keep the total number of games at 30, and teams will still miss three ACC opponents each year, but a primary playing partner will be protected. 
With the ACC as the top-ranked conference in the NCAA’s RPI last year and 17 league representatives in the College World Series in the past eight years, it is important to get the schedule model that protects competitive equity within conference while also positioning our teams for success in the postseason. 
Who are the primary partners?
The primary partners for the future are Florida State-Miami, North Carolina-NC State, Clemson-Georgia Tech, Louisville-Virginia, Boston College-Virginia Tech, Notre Dame-Pitt, and Duke-Wake Forest.