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ACC Becomes Latest Conference Looking to Eliminate Divisions in 2023

ACC Becomes Latest Conference Looking to Eliminate Divisions in 2023 article feature image

Lance King/Getty Images. Pictured: The ACC logo on a field marker.

AMELIA ISLAND, Fla. — Add the Atlantic Coast Conference to the growing list of conferences looking to eliminate divisions next season.

Midway through this week’s ACC spring meetings, whether to keep or eliminate divisions was one of the biggest topics for ACC administrators, athletic directors and coaches.

Last week, Action Network reported the Mountain West was “likely” to eliminate divisions in 2023. The Mid-American Conference will address whether or not to eliminate divisions at its spring meetings, a source said.

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Several ACC athletic directors said the league has focused on a “3-3-5 scheduling model” without divisions. League schedules would consist of three games against permanent opponents and then five games against teams the next two seasons in a home-and-home format. After two years, the teams would replace those five teams with the remaining five league teams they didn’t play the previous two years.

This would allow each ACC football player to play every team in the ACC at least once in a four-year career.

“You know, there are pros and cons — you could have a rematch — and we understand that,” Florida State athletic director Michael Alford said. “But at the end of the day, if you have two of the marquee teams — whoever that is — having great years, playing for a championship game, that’s going to help our brand across the country and on television.”

Miami athletic director Dan Radakovich said the ADs are “closer to the end than the beginning” on finalizing their decision on divisions and selecting permanent partners. The ACC also is asking for scheduling input from ESPN, which owns the ACC Network.

There are some schools, however, that may not favor eliminating divisions, a source said.

“The schools in the Coastal want to keep divisions,” the source said. “But the schools in the Atlantic want to eliminate divisions.”

The reason is simple. Since 2013, each of the seven Coastal Division teams has won the division, while Clemson has dominated the Atlantic Division, winning five of the past six division titles.

This month, the NCAA Council is expected to approve a waiver allowing all leagues to play without divisions starting in 2023 but still hold conference championship games. The waiver will not require teams to eliminate divisions, but it provides that option.

Besides increasing the frequency of matchups within the ACC by eliminating divisions, the conference is guaranteed its best two teams would play in the league championship. That league champion, in theory, would be better positioned to earn a College Football Playoff berth.

“It creates more excitement for sure,” Alford said.

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