ACC calling on NCAA for 'autonomy' on championship matchup

ACC Commissioner John Swofford greets Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney before the annual Orange Bowl Coaches Luncheon on Friday at the Jungle Island ballroom in Miami

Photo by Mark Crammer

ACC Commissioner John Swofford greets Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney before the annual Orange Bowl Coaches Luncheon on Friday at the Jungle Island ballroom in Miami

The ACC is considering an unprecedented shakeup in determining its football champion - all it needs is the NCAA's approval.

The NCAA will meet in the spring and one of the discussion items will be its regulations on championship game participants. Currently, the rules require the same amount of teams in each division, and also each team playing the rest of the group.

ACC commissioner John Swofford told ESPN they are seeking the "autonomy" to switch things up. Among proposals on the table is pitting the top two teams - regardless of division - and not requiring all divisional foes to play each other.

Also in discussion later this month will be the nine-game schedule and having scheduling alignments with other conferences.

The driving force? The rather unwieldy structure with 14 teams, which puts quite a few years between scheduled matchups of cross-divisional opponents.

Take Clemson-Virginia for example, where the Tigers and 'Hoos won't play again until 2020 in Death Valley and then not Charlottesville until after 2024.

"There are a number of different options there that some of which may require some NCAA legislation to move away from the current rules," Clemson AD Dan Radakovich said in an interview with WCCP 104.9 last week. "One of the things that we found that's particularly troubling with the divisional alignment the way it is now - student-athletes and schools in general will not play at another ACC play for sometimes eight or nine years. That's not a good thing.

"We want to make sure that if we can we want to make sure we have a scheduling opportunity that during a player's four or five years here that they would have the opportunity to play each school within the Atlantic Coast Conference."

Reducing restrictions on the divisional structure could open the door to further expansion and a "pod" system down the road with four groups of four.

In pod proposals, which surfaced during the realignment craze of the past few years, teams would play the other three in their pod and two each from the other three mini-divisions for a nine-game schedule. One pod would be aligned with another for a two-year period for home-and-home scheduling and then switch to get the round-robin action in a few years' time. Any dramatic shift like this could be a long ways off - probably in the case Notre Dame moves from its current five-game rotation with the ACC to full membership.

Since going to a championship game format, the top-two by league record haven't played four of the nine years: 2005 (Miami, Virginia Tech), 2008 (Florida State, Boston College*), 2012 (Florida State, Clemson) and 2013 (Florida State, Clemson).

* Assuming tiebreakers are in play. BC and Virginia Tech each had 5-3 records in 2008, but BC won the regular season matchup. In a new structure, to "steal" the bid they may need to finish a win better in league play.

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Comments » 5

KIMOSAMI (Inactive) writes:

"Reducing restrictions on the divisional structure could open the door to further expansion....."

And this is good......why??

TigerFan95 writes:

What's happening here is that the powers that be know that the new 4 team playoff system that goes into effect next year will eventually be expanded. The ideal set-up would be a playoff consisting of all the major conference champions, however there are currently 10 major conferences and you can't have a 10 team playoff. You have to have 2,4,8,16,32, etc. 2 & 4 teams is not enough because you leave too many teams out and 16 & 32 is too many because it means too many weeks of playoffs. That leaves 8 teams as the ideal number, but like I stated earlier there are 10 conferences. The solution? Two conferences need to be eliminated. What Swofford is proposing is a rule change that would allow the 8 strongest conferences to gobble up the 2 weakest--most likely the American Conference and the Mountain West-- and still be able to maintain traditional inter-conference rivalries.

tigerrob44#291802 writes:

The two highest ranked teams in all conferences should play for their conference championship. Use the AP poll or the coaches poll. Then have the top 8 teams in whatever poll you want to use and have an 8 team playoff. 8 teams is plenty and probably too many but it comes out even. 8,4,2 and the champion. Three weeks of football is all it would take.

TRUETIGER1 writes:

The best shake-up would be to replace Swofford with someone competent.

YabbaDaboDooDoo writes:

in response to TigerFan95:

What's happening here is that the powers that be know that the new 4 team playoff system that goes into effect next year will eventually be expanded. The ideal set-up would be a playoff consisting of all the major conference champions, however there are currently 10 major conferences and you can't have a 10 team playoff. You have to have 2,4,8,16,32, etc. 2 & 4 teams is not enough because you leave too many teams out and 16 & 32 is too many because it means too many weeks of playoffs. That leaves 8 teams as the ideal number, but like I stated earlier there are 10 conferences. The solution? Two conferences need to be eliminated. What Swofford is proposing is a rule change that would allow the 8 strongest conferences to gobble up the 2 weakest--most likely the American Conference and the Mountain West-- and still be able to maintain traditional inter-conference rivalries.

This has absolutely nothing to do with the national championship playoff. First, there are not 10 major conferences. There's 5 (ACC, B1G, Big12, PAC12, SEC), that's it. A team currently outside of those 5 conferences has not won a national championship since Notre Dame in 1988 and before that BYU in 1984. Those 5 conferences are not going to give East Carolina an automatic spot in a national championship playoff. Will not happen and you can take that to the bank. There will not be a conference champion requirement for a playoff. The best 4 or 8 teams will be in a playoff regardless of conference.

This has to do with scheduling/recruiting, Notre Dame, and TV. Eliminating this requirement means you play everyone in the conference more often. For example if you're Clemson and you want to recruit in talent-rich Miami, it certainly helps you to be able to guarantee a road game against Miami for family and friends to go to. You haven't played against Miami in Miami since 2009 and won't play Miami in Miami again until 2015. The only way you go to Miami is the Orange Bowl. How nice would it be to always have 1 and possibly 2 games in Miami in a given 4-year period? That helps Clemson recruit across the entire ACC geographic footprint. The other thing driving this is TV. Flexibility in scheduling is more attractive to TV networks which means that TV revenue could go up. And then there's Notre Dame. The ACC is betting on the Notre Dame cash cow eventually coming on board and if an ACC championship is contingent on 2 even divisions then something else will have to be done.

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