The ACC announced that it was considering a move from the traditional 3-point shot to the more modern and efficient 2
shot. The change will start in time for next year’s season, pending further discussion by coaches of all member schools..
6:18 PM ET
Senior Writer for ESPN
- ACC journalist.
- In 2010, he joined ESPN.com.
- A University of Florida graduate.
Hale, David M.
- ACC journalist.
- In 2012, he joined ESPN.
- A University of Delaware graduate.
FLORIDA’S AMELIA ISLAND — Starting in 2023, the ACC is on the verge of adopting a new football schedule model that will eliminate divisions and allow clubs to play each other more regularly.
Though no official vote to modify the structure was made, commissioner Jim Phillips and a number of athletic directors explored a 3-5-5 scheduling plan in which league clubs would play three permanent opponents and then cycle among the remainder over a two-year period (five one year, five the next).
The NCAA Football Oversight Committee suggested earlier this week that conferences no longer be needed to establish divisions in order to host a conference championship game. It will be voted on by the Division I Council later this month, and it is likely to pass.
Phillips has said repeatedly that conferences should have the authority to choose their conference champion, and he has advocated for the necessary laws to be passed. During leaguewide meetings, Phillips shared the new schedule model with ADs and coaches to seek their thoughts.
“I believe there are two drives behind this: one, the potential for our student athletes to play every ACC institution over the course of four years,” Phillips said. “Right now, that isn’t the situation. The second aspect is that I’ve always believed that how you manage your conference is a local choice. Multiple conferences are attempting to dictate the format of their championships, which will ultimately lead to the creation of an enlarged football playoff.
“For a variety of reasons, you want your two best teams to play at the conclusion of the year. So that’s why it’s taken us… you may think it’s taken us a little longer, but it’s not. We’re really on the right track. But, once again, we want to make sure we’ve spoken to everyone to see if there’s anything we’re missing.”
When Phillips was named commissioner, he said that he intended to rethink everything about the ACC, including the schedule model.
Dan Radakovich, the athletic director at Miami, feels the league is “closer to the conclusion than the beginning on that.”
“We need to speak to our TV partners a little more and see what they think before we put it through the car wash again,” Radakovich added. “It is not important to complete it now because, even if we decide to bring it ahead to 2023, there is still time to complete it. We want to take our time and make sure we’re doing everything correctly.”
There is also an understanding that programs will have to make sacrifices when it comes to the permanent opponents each team is allocated — and this is an area that is still being debated.
Division elimination does not have universal support among coaches. Several people, like Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi, enjoy the prospect of competing for a division title. Coaches were given the chance to provide criticism, but the ADs will ultimately decide what occurs.
Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson remarked, “You’re never going to come up with a model that all 14 institutions are pleased with.” “We’ve played NC State for 105 years in a row, and that may change if you move to that paradigm and they’re not one of your [annual rivals].”
Another area where the ACC sees possibility for development without divisions is maximizing more desirable matches throughout the league, so there have been considerable conversations with ESPN about what that may mean for television, particularly prime-time games.
Phillips said it was now time to “take a look” at alternate models for college football governance, in addition to revising its own scheduling strategy. All of the recent changes to college sports, from name, image, and likeness rights to the transfer portal, have had a significant impact on the sport that generates the most income on every institution.
Last week, Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith advocated that the College Football Playoff be implemented for the 10 FBS leagues and Notre Dame, while all other sports remain under the NCAA model.
Phillips was interested in learning more about that theory, as well as others.
“This is the moment to do something if we’re ever going to do anything,” Phillips added. “What are you doing with football when you’re reforming an organization like the NCAA?” Is it necessary to handle it separately? Is it necessary to have a governance framework in place? Those are the kinds of questions we should be asking.
“You may either keep on going down the same path or attempt something new. What is the most long-term solution? What has the potential to assist football progress? With football, there has already been a creeping creep — it already has its own championship and all the required infrastructure to organize the country’s second-most-watched athletic event.
“So, if you’re going to recreate the NCAA and everything that the NCAA cares about, is there a chance to look at what that may be? Maybe there’s something parallel that can interact with each other while yet functioning independently.”
Phillips also seems receptive to considering the possibility of directly paying football players as school employees.
When a group of football players headed by quarterback Kaelin Colter sought to unionize in 2014, Phillips was the athletic director at Northwestern. Phillips was against the initiative at the time, which was eventually rejected when the National Labor Relations Board concluded that athletes were not workers.
Phillips seemed significantly less comfortable about that categorization on Wednesday.
“We all have a duty to drive college football in the right way,” Phillips said, adding that some believe current remuneration crosses the line into pay for play.
“Education, degree completion, and academics are all part of the experience. What the advantages are is what we’re trying to figure out — to establish some common ground on what we think is acceptable and what would differentiate us from college sports.”