The ACC is considering various scheduling models for the upcoming football season, one of which will be Notre Dame which is eligible to play in the conference championship game, sources told ESPN on Friday.
Sources indicated that there was only one of the various scheduling models under discussion, and that the model and proposed schedule continue to change. Any scheduling model needs approval from the ACC Board of Directors made up of all 15 presidents and chancellors.
The new scheduling model is expected to be introduced next Wednesday.
ACC and Notre Dame officials declined to comment.
In addition to fluid discussions about what the schedule will look like, the topic of when the season will begin. Those discussions continue, but like the Pac-12, the ACC is looking to build on bye week and can play its championship game as late as 19 December.
Unlike other Power 5 conferences, the ACC has various scheduling partnerships, resulting in complex discussions about season schedules as a result of the coronovirus epidemic. A discussion will include four ACC / SEC rivalry games that seek to protect schools from both conferences. Another is Notre Dame, an FBS independent that has an annual scheduling partnership with ACC. Currently, Notre Dame has six scheduled ACC games.
For this reason, there has been no appetite in the ACC for the conference-only schedule, which is the route chosen by the Pac-12 and the Big Ten.
Therefore, all discussions focus only on the conference-model with a non-conference game. This would allow four ACC schools to play season-two rivalry games.
But Notre Dame remains the biggest question, especially since the Irish are scheduled to play three teams in an SEC rivalry game – Clemson, Louisville and Georgia Tech. With Notre Dame as a nonexistent opponent in only one-model, it would be difficult for those three to keep Notre Dame on schedule.
The way is to count Notre Dame as an ACC game. To keep the schedule the same, this means Notre Dame will play the ACC schedule for this season as well as a nonconfidence game.
The question is whether Notre Dame wants to do this. The Irish have canceled three games, but currently have nine games scheduled – including Navy and Arkansas. Notre Dame Athletic Director Jack Swarbick told ESPN that he prefers to play between eight and 10 games earlier this week. In the 10-plus-1 model, all 11 will play.
Other options are discussed, including an eight- and nine-game conference schedule and a nonconference game. There has also been discussion about ending division format by region and remodeling all schedules to address concerns about long distance travel.
Moving to a conference-only, plus-one schedule also ensures opponents have uniform coronovirus testing guidelines, emphasizing the need for all teams to follow the same testing and safety standards.