The ACC is currently holding their annual spring conference meetings on Amelia Island in Florida. So far, one of the reports coming out could mean a substantial change for the conference in the not-so-distant future.
The NCAA is currently reviewing a proposal to relax the standards required to have a conference championship game, one of which is having divisions within a conference.
Under the assumption those revisions pass, the ACC is considering doing away with the two-division model they currently use. Per reports coming out of the meeting, multiple athletic directors throughout the conference favor a model that would feature teams playing three permanent rivals plus a five rotating conference opponent schedule.
The ideas behind the change are more competition within the league creating a stronger consideration for the playoffs, more diversity of opponents played intra-conference and the expansion of television markets by creating more big matchups within conference play.
The change would also put the two best teams from the conference meeting for the ACC title in Charlotte versus the two division champions as it currently stands.
One potential consequence could be seeing a rematch more often in the title game, but that is not necessarily a terrible thing as it could help avoid title games that result in a blowout.
Unfortunately, this has been the case recently as the Coastal division has struggled to beat the Atlantic winner. Four out the past five ACC title games saw Clemson (from the Atlantic) beat three different Coastal champions and Notre Dame by a total of 176-40. Another example that most FSU fans remember would be the 45-7 beat down of Duke in 2013.
Of course, the conference leaders understand this could both help and hurt the chances of an ACC team making the playoffs in the event of an upset. However, at a time when the conference appears to being playing catch-up with the SEC and Big Ten this could provide a needed boost.
In the current college football arms race, television markets are one of the main drivers of revenue and therefore must be a large part of the consideration for any changes.
There would certainly be higher demand for matchups like Clemson versus Miami or Florida State versus Virginia Tech over some of the current less desirable divisional matchups played annually. More television viewers would mean higher payouts for the conference and create a scenario where a rising tide lifts all ships.
It is not known yet whether the changes will be adopted or not but if so, they could go into place as early as the 2023 season.
The ACC did get a taste of this model for one season in 2020 when divisions were cast aside, and Notre Dame joined the conference for one year. That season saw the ACC send two teams to the college football playoff.
The ACC at least understands there is action needed to keep up with the other “superpowers” in today’s college football climate. These types of changes do not always happen overnight, but it is a positive sign from the conference that it is willing to adapt under first year commissioner Jim Phillips who came from the Big Ten.
For now, we will have to wait and see what happens, but change may be on the horizon for the ACC. It is a change I personally would welcome, and think would be good for the conference.
Thanks for reading and Go Noles!
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