CLEMSON, S.C. — The last time Clemson won an ACC Championship it came with no divisions.
Of course, that was the COVID year of 2020, when Notre Dame temporarily joined the conference as it helped out the Irish from their scheduling dilemma. With permission from the NCAA, the league did not use divisions and instead took the two teams with the best record at the end of the regular season to play for the ACC Championship.
The end result was No. 2 Notre Dame against No. 4 Clemson in the title game, a contest the Tigers won 34-10 to avenge their double overtime loss during the regular season. It also marked the only year a conference other than the SEC had two teams qualify for the College Football Playoffs.
Thanks to the NCAA Football Oversight Committee formerly recommending last month to the NCAA Division I Council that it adopt legislation to remove FBS requirements that must be met to annually exempt conference championship contests.
If it is passed, it will allow each FBS conference to determine its own method for identifying the participants in its conference championship game. That means conferences will no longer be required to have divisions in order to determine who plays in their conference championship.
This was first reported by ESPN’s Pete Thamel on Monday.
He says the ACC could eliminate divisions as early as 2023. He also reported on Twitter, the league discussed this issue last week on calls prior to this week’s spring meetings, which are going on at Amelia Island, Fla.
The league is discussing it play eight conference games, with three of those games being permanent opponents and the other five opponents rotating off the schedule every other year. There are also talks of having two permanent opponents with six teams rotating on and off the schedule.
These ideas are to allow ACC schools to host every other school every four years, which in turn will bring more variety to conference scheduling. This can eliminate the Tigers from having to play Louisville, Boston College and Syracuse every year and get more of an opportunity to play its traditional ACC rivals, such as North Carolina, Virginia and Duke.
It also means Clemson will have an opportunity to play Virginia Tech more.
Though scheduling will be the larger issue for the conference going forward, it sounds like these plans are seriously being discussed. With the NCAA finally getting on board, the days of seeing Clemson or Florida State beat up a much weaker team from the Coastal Division in the ACC Championship Game are over.