The Atlantic Coast Conference reworked its football schedule Wednesday to allow each team to play 11 games and to incorporate Notre Dame, which is giving up its cherished independence in a year turned upside down by the coronavirus pandemic.
The ACC’s university presidents approved plans for a schedule with 10 conference games and one nonconference, and for pushing back both the first week of the season (from Labor Day weekend to the weekend of Sept. 12) and the league championship game (from Dec. 5 to either Dec. 12 or 19).
Miami athletic director Blake James called the schedule “aspirational” as concerns about COVID-19 have put major college football in the fall in peril. For now, though, conferences are working on plans to play what would be a most unusual season.
The ACC will eliminate its traditional divisional format this season and the two teams with the best winning percentages in conference play will meet in Charlotte, North Carolina, for the league championship game. Maybe a Clemson-Notre Dame rematch? The league will release specific dates and broadcast plans later.
Notre Dame, which competes in the ACC in all sports except football and hockey, will play in a football conference for the first time in the 133-year history of the proudly independent program — if the season is played. The biggest conferences are taking steps to try to mitigate potential disruptions and salvage a sport worth billions in broadcast rights deals.
“We recognize that we may need to be nimble and make adjustments in the future," ACC Commissioner John Swofford said in a statement.
Notre Dame already had a scheduling agreement with the ACC that puts five or six games with the league on the Fighting Irish schedule every year. They had six this season: Clemson, Duke, Wake Forest, Georgia Tech, Louisville and Pitt. Added to that will be home games against Florida State and Syracuse and road games against North Carolina and Boston College. There will be no renewal of the Notre Dame-Miami rivalry.
The ACC and Notre Dame also agreed to equally share TV revenue — including the Fighting Irish’s deal with NBC — among the 15 schools.