Sources – The proposal would see Notre-Dame compete for the ACC title in 2020


The ACC is considering various programming models for the upcoming football season, including a model that would see Notre Dame participate in the conference championship game, sources told ESPN on Friday.Sources indicated that this was just one of various programming models being discussed and that changes continue to be made to the models and schedules offered. Any planning model must be approved by the CCA Board of Directors, made up of the 15 Presidents and Chancellors.

The preferred planning model is expected to be presented to them next Wednesday.

ACC and Notre Dame officials declined to comment.

Along with the fluid discussions of what the schedule will look like, there is the theme of the start of the season. Those talks are ongoing, but like the Pac-12, the ACC is looking to build in the weeks off and can play its championship game as late as December 19.

Unlike other Power 5 conferences, the ACC has various planning partnerships, resulting in complicated discussions of what to do about the season schedule due to the coronavirus pandemic. A discussion would concern the four ACC / SEC rivalry games that schools at both conferences want to protect. Another is Notre Dame, an independent FBS that has an annual planning partnership with ACC. Currently, Notre Dame has six scheduled ACC games.

For this reason, there has been no appetite within the ACC for a conference-only schedule, which is the route chosen by the Pac-12 and the Big Ten.

Therefore, all discussions centered on a conference only model with a game without conference. This would allow the four ACC schools with end-of-season rivalry games to play them.

But Notre Dame remains the bigger question, especially as the Irish have to play three teams with rivalry games with the SEC – Clemson, Louisville and Georgia Tech. In a plus one model with Notre Dame as the non-conference opponent, it would be difficult for these three to keep Notre Dame on schedule.

The way around this is to count Notre Dame as an ACC game. In order to maintain scheduling consistency, this would mean Notre Dame playing a CCA schedule for this season only, as well as a non-conference game.

The question is whether Notre Dame wants to do this. The Irish have had three games canceled, but currently have nine games scheduled – including the Navy and Arkansas. Notre Dame sporting director Jack Swarbrick told ESPN earlier this week that he prefers to play between eight and 10 games. In the 10 plus 1 model, everyone would play 11.

Other options were discussed, including eight and nine game conference schedules plus a non-conference game. There have also been discussions about removing the split format and revamping all schedules based on region to alleviate concerns about long distance travel.

Shifting to a plus-one calendar just for the conference also ensures that opponents have uniform guidelines for coronavirus testing, underscoring the need for all teams to adhere to the same testing and safety standards.


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