Caulton Tudor • staff columist
During a week in which The New York Times did a long news report on declining interest among Duke students in their basketball team, the ACC announced a scheduling policy that will take another deep cut into the sport’s regional and national popularity.
With an eye on the eventual arrival of Pittsburgh and Syracuse as new members, the league said Friday that UNC and N.C. State and Duke and Maryland will not play each other twice in the same season when the membership officially hits 14 teams.
Outrage among fans began immediately, of course.
But the long ago established truth is that ACC officials don’t care how mad fans get, just as long as those fans continue to watch the games on television, purchase those vital cable packages, send in their donations and enough of them take time to attend those games.
There will be an ongoing clamor to increase future league schedules from 18 to 20 or 22 games _ an idea the coaches detest and will fight fiercely.
But at some point down the road, the coaches will remit and there will be an increase to 20-game league schedules. But even if happens, it’s an unsustainable solution to counteract watered down competition as long the ACC (and other leagues) continue to expand in an insatiable quest to add television/cable markets.
But when the coaches are making millions annually and the athletic departments are better staffed than some regional banks, the games have to fall below revenue generation in importance.
And by the way, the ACC also has decided to go to nine-game league football schedules when the two newcomers arrive.
That policy probably will mean we’ll see more of Syracuse and Pitt and less of non-ACC games against ECU and South Carolina in Triangle stadiums.
And in case it’s slipped your memory, that ACC bowl record last season was 2-6.