ACC plans vote on rotating schedule model, eliminating football divisions in time for 2023 season

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The ACC has plans to vote on a 3-5-5 scheduling model featuring three permanent opponents and a rotating slate of home-and-home games with five other opponents, commissioner Jim Phillips said Wednesday. The league hopes to make a decision on a scheduling format before the 2023 schedule is released. 

“We are very much on track (to make a decision), but again we want to make sure we talk to everybody to see if we’re missing something here,” said Phillips, adding the ACC didn’t “want to stay in limbo forever” on whether to eliminate divisions. 

A scheduling model without divisions could preserve rivalries while maximizing opportunities to play notable conference opponents. For example, North Carolina State might have permanent rivalries with the other North Carolina schools: North Carolina, Duke and Wake Forest. Then, the rest of its schedule would be divided into five-team groups that would rotate. 

Currently, the ACC system is broken into the Atlantic and Coastal divisions with only two crossover games a year. Notably, North Carolina and Wake Forest held a bizarre nonconference series in 2019 and 2021 to add additional matchups featuring the in-state rivals before the ACC schedule finally sent them to play one another as part of the conference slate in 2022. 

Pans to eliminate the requirement for divisions and conference championship games have been discussed by the NCAA. Current bylaws mandate that any conference with 12 or more members holds a conference championship game featuring the winner of two divisions. However, the structure may become more difficult to justify as conferences continue to grow. 

The SEC, for instance, has a system with a permanent cross-divisional opponent and only one other cross-division game. The structure means that other cross-division teams only play each other twice over a 12-year period. With a 3-5-5 structure, every four-year player would be guaranteed to play in every conference venue over the course of their careers. 

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