No vote taken on ACC football schedule format, but expected soon

Georgia Tech defensive linebacker Juanyeh Thomas (1) sacks Boston quarterback Phil Jurkovec (5) in the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 13, 2021 at Bobby Dodd Stadium  (Daniel Varnado/ For the Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

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Georgia Tech defensive linebacker Juanyeh Thomas (1) sacks Boston quarterback Phil Jurkovec (5) in the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 13, 2021 at Bobby Dodd Stadium (Daniel Varnado/ For the Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

AMELIA ISLAND, Fla. – As expected, the ACC spring meetings will conclude Thursday without an official vote on a possible change in the scheduling model for football. But commissioner Jim Phillips doesn’t want to dither on the debate. It appears that the league is headed for a shift from the two-division format that it has used since 2005, when the league expanded to 12 teams.

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“I don’t want to stay in limbo forever,” Phillips said Wednesday at the ACC spring meetings. “To me, you have to close the circle. Either you’re going to do it or you’re not going to do it. We’ll get to that decision and make it and then move forward.”

If a change is made, Phillips said, it would be to a model in which teams have three opponents that they play annually and then rotate games against the remaining 10 teams, facing five one year and the other five the next. The top two teams in the league could then play for the conference championship.

“That’s the one that people have gone to,” Phillips said.

The meetings provided the opportunity for coaches and athletic directors to hear and discuss proposals. The NCAA is expected to eliminate its requirement that conferences with 12 or more teams must have divisions in order to hold a conference championship game, which would open the door for the ACC’s “3-5-5″ plan and put an end to the Atlantic and Coastal divisions for football.

“If there was an anvil over us, we probably would have been able to make the decision (Wednesday), but there isn’t,” Miami athletic director Dan Radakovich said. “We can wait for a little while, and we want to be more deliberate with it. We’re in a good spot.”

The main benefit of the new format is that teams would be able to play all of the other conference members regularly. In a four-year career, an ACC player would face every team at least twice and play in every stadium in the conference. In the two-division format, teams play the other six teams in their division and one permanent partner in the opposite division annually, but then play the remaining six teams in the other division twice in a 12-year cycle. A new format would be implemented for the 2023 season.

Another benefit is that the league’s two best teams would play for the championship, a scenario that doesn’t always happen with two division winners playing for the title. Phillips indicated his favor for that model.

“Times have changed, and I think you’re seeing that across multiple conferences, that they’d like to dictate what their championship structure looks like,” Phillips said, “which will lead into, eventually, an expanded football playoff. You’d like to have your two best teams to have a chance to play for a lot of reasons.”

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