Whit Babcock was Cincinnati’s athletic director in 2012 when the Bearcats’ football team defeated Virginia Tech at FedEx Field in suburban Washington, D.C. Now the Hokies’ AD, Babcock is considering an opportunity for Tech to play West Virginia at FedEx in 2017.
Mountaineers athletic director Oliver Luck mentioned the potential game between the border rivals to the Charleston Gazette as an example of WVU attempting to upgrade future non-conference schedules. Such schedules will be parsed like never before starting this season when a committee selects the four participants for major college football’s first championship playoff.
Former Big East rivals, Tech and West Virginia have not played since 2005, the Hokies’ second season in the ACC. Former Tech athletic director Jim Weaver announced last year that the Hokies and Mountaineers will play in 2021 in Morgantown and 2022 at Lane Stadium.
On the job since mid-February, Babcock said via email that a Hokies-Mountaineers clash in 2017 “is not final,” but “is interesting in theory.”
In theory because Babcock is unsure how many non-conference games Tech will play in future seasons. The ACC has played an eight-game league schedule since Florida State’s 1992 arrival, but subsequent expansion to 14 teams, plus the playoff component, have league officials weighing a nine-game ACC schedule.
A decision on eight or nine could come as early as the league’s annual spring meetings next month in Florida.
Until that issue is settled, Babcock and other ACC athletic directors don’t know whether to schedule three or four non-conference games per year — the NCAA limits total regular-season games to 12.
Tech has three non-league dates booked for 2017 and ’18, so again, in theory, a 2017 game against West Virginia could work. Notre Dame’s rotation of ACC opponents, which begins this season, could include a trip to Blacksburg in 2018. The Hokies and Fighting Irish will play in 2016 in South Bend, Ind.
Notre Dame’s ACC opponents are set from 2014-16. The next rotation, of three or six years, is close to completion.
Tech has four non-conference opponents set for 2015, ’16, ’19 and ’20. An ACC move to nine league games would prompt considerable changes in those schedules.
Babcock and I spoke at length about future football schedules during a February interview. The transcript and a video are here.
The Hokies, by the way, are 0-3 at the Washington Redskins' stadium, losing to Southern California in 2004, Boise State in 2010 and Cincinnati two years ago. The latter game drew a disappointing crowd of 46,026, barely half-capacity at the Landover, Md., facility.
West Virginia is scheduled to play Brigham Young at FedEx in 2016.
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