AMELIA ISLAND, Fla. — Momentum is making progress within the ACC to redo its football programming model, possibly as early as 2023.
The most likely scenario is the 3-5 model, which would give each school three annual opponents while rolling in five new opponents per year.
“The schedule model has been discussed,” Miami athletic director Dan Radakovich said during the second day of ACC Spring Meetings on Tuesday. “We have good ideas for moving forward. We’re closer to the end than the beginning on this, but we need to talk to our TV partners a bit to see what they think about it, kind of put it through the car wash one more time.
“It’s not urgent to be able to do it now, from a timing point of view, because even if we decide to bring this forward for 23, there is the opportunity and the time to be able to do it. We want to be deliberate on this subject.
When asked if there was a preferred pattern, Radakovich described the 3-5 arrangement.
“I think the one where there are four-year rotating cycles where you play everyone twice and you have three common opponents,” he said. “I think it’s really generated a lot of excitement (from ACC schools).”
Radakovich, who was hired by the Hurricanes in December, knows this conversation especially well, having been an DA in the league for 17 years. (He was at Georgia Tech from 2006-2012 and Clemson from 2012-21.) Discussions around football schedules aren’t new in the ACC, which plays just eight conference games, has long been unbalanced toward the Atlantic division and goes way too long. without certain confrontations between the adversaries of the conference. (Pitt’s 2021 ACC title marked the Coast Division’s first conference championship since 2010.)
Under the current format, Duke and NC State, which are 30 minutes apart, play each other once every seven years. Tar Heel North Carolina and Wake Forest State Schools — which are the state’s oldest rivalry — were also scheduled to meet once every seven years before taking matters into their own hands, scheduling each other as a game off. conference in 2019 and 2021.
Miami and Wake Forest haven’t played since 2013. Their scheduled 2020 reunion fell victim to the pandemic, and they aren’t on the ACC opponents’ announced future schedules, which run through 2024.
Notre Dame, meanwhile, plays at each ACC school approximately three times over a five-year span, despite not being a member of the football conference.
Monday, Athleticism reported that the NCAA Football Oversight Committee recommended that the Division I board remove requirements to stage a conference championship game, which would give conferences flexibility to determine who plays in the title game. For the ACC, the chance for every four-year-old to play against every school in their conference has also become a priority.
“One hundred percent,” Florida State DA Michael Alford said. “I look at Boston College and Syracuse. How many times do they want to go to Florida? A lot. So what’s the best case scenario? And how often do I want to enter the New York market? I want to enter the Boston and New York market, because it is a key market for us to build our brands and to recruit. So making sure we’re doing the right things where everyone has the same opportunity (that’s important).
Alford, who said the conference DAs will meet with ESPN on Wednesday, argued that Florida State needs Clemson and Miami as two of its three annual conference opponents. It is more flexible on the third.
“It’s a joker,” he said. “But I see it as, what’s best for the conference? How do we grow our brand? And I’m going to get selfish about it and say, how can I grow my brand? And where can- I go to play often, which allows me to access a major television market?
Potential permanent adversaries?
Boston College — Miami, Syracuse, Virginia Tech
Clemson— NC State, Georgia Tech, Florida State
Duke – North Carolina, Wake Forest, Georgia Tech
State of Florida — Miami, Clemson, Syracuse
Georgia Tech — Clemson, Duke, Louisville
Louisville— Pittsburgh, Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech
Miami— Florida State, Boston College, Pittsburgh
North Carolina – Duke, NC State, Virginia
NC status — Clemson, Wake Forest, North Carolina
Pittsburgh— Louisville, Miami, Syracuse
Syracuse— Boston College, Florida State, Pittsburgh
Virginia — Virginia Tech, North Carolina, Wake Forest
Virginia Tech— Virginia, Louisville, Boston College
Wake Forest — Duke, NC State, Virginia
The league may change the programming model provided the NCAA Division I Board approves a rule change recommended by the NCAA Football Oversight Committee. This is expected to happen at the May 18 board meeting. Previously, leagues that did not play a full round robin schedule in football had to be split into divisions to stage a league game. The initial version of this rule required leagues to have at least 12 teams and be divided into divisions. It was adopted in 1987 after being co-sponsored by two Division II conferences. The first league to actually take advantage of the rule was the SEC. Then-commissioner Roy Kramer remembered the rule and used the idea of a championship game as a tentpole when his league added Arkansas and South Carolina. This league divided into divisions and started playing its championship game in 1992.
The ACC and Big 12 were the leagues that changed the rule in 2014. The Big 12 had dropped their championship game after falling to 10 schools, but wanted to reopen the option of having one. The new round robin requirement made this possible. The Big 12 returned to playing a title match in 2017.
The ACC took nothing away from that change, but it had an idea during the pandemic-affected 2020 season how a divisionless league could help the league. Schedule uncertainty due to COVID-19 and an agreement to allow Notre Dame — which is an ACC member in all other sports — to play a full ACC schedule has necessitated maximum flexibility. Thus, the league played as a group of 15 teams without divisions. He then set up a conference title game No. 1 vs. No. 2. Both participants in the game (Clemson and Notre Dame) competed in the college football playoffs. The SEC (2017 and 2021) is the only other league to place two schools in the four-team playoffs.
“The year that Clemson and Notre Dame played and we had a split, the COVID year, that was kind of an idea of, well, maybe that could be a good precursor for things to come. “, said Radakovich.
Conference members playing each other more frequently and more varied subscription packages are the most obvious benefits of the schedule model change, but the rarer – though more impactful – benefit is reducing the possibility of a fluky conference champion eliminating the league from the Playoffs.
In the divisional system, a team with multiple losses could win exactly the right games and win the conference title. If that team has an unusually great day and upsets one of the top five opponents in the conference title game, the league is eliminated. That possibility becomes more remote if the CFP expands, but with a No. 1 vs. No. 2 title match, the possibility of bringing both teams into an expanded CFP increases.
Pittsburgh coach Pat Narduzzi joked that the danger of finishing No. 13 or No. 14 in the league will scare coaches more than the danger of finishing No. 7 in a division. But that decision is largely out of the hands of the coaches. Subscription sales, TV partner preference and postseason possibilities fuel the discussion — just as they fuel similar discussions in the Big Ten and the SEC.
And if the change is made, we’ve probably seen North Carolina and Wake Forest last meet in a non-conference football game.
Radakovich said the ACC is closer to establishing each school’s three annual opponents. When asked if he had a preference on who he would like Miami’s fixed opponents to be, he took a broad view of the conference as a whole.
“I want our league to be able to get to the point where we look at all the schools that are in the league, and they have made quantitative and qualitative investments in their football program so that the whole league continues to progress in only national recognition”, Radakovich said “Because we had him for a long time in basketball. We have done it in other sports. So we have to be able to have that kind of thing in football. It will take more investment from schools to make this happen.
(Top photo: Ken Ruinard/USA Today)