New ACC commissioner Jim Phillips is looking to get rid of football divisions according to an ESPN report by Andrea Adelson and David Hale. With the changes happening across college football, Phillips is looking to get a repeat of the 2020 league format, that had all teams lumped together with the top two teams making the championship game.
While no changes to the division or scheduling structure are imminent, Phillips noted that the entire collegiate landscape has shifted over the last several months with name, image and likeness, proposed playoff expansion and one-time transfer rules. With the loosening of rules across the board, Phillips said at some point, the ACC will go back to the NCAA to ask that divisions no longer be required for conferences with 12 or more teams to hold a championship game.
"That's something that we're going to want to do," Phillips told ESPN on Thursday. "To test the waters to see if we can go with no divisions like we did last year. We saw what that could look like.
There are multiple reasons removing divisions could be advantageous to the conference. First, if the top two teams make the championship game, that rewards those teams. In many years two of the top teams come from the same division, and the championship game features a top team and a team from the other division (usually the Coastal) that really shouldn't be there.
In addition, removing divisions allows teams to play each other more often. Right now teams can go over a decade before they host a specific team from the other division. By doing a schedule like the ACC did in 2020, that would mean BC could play Miami more often, while not getting stuck with Clemson on their schedule every year.
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The report goes on to note that Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney is not in favor of removing the divisions. Instead he would prefer that the conference remove the permanent cross over games. However, that would be a big challenge as there are many permanent crossovers that have major significance to the member schools (NC State/UNC, Florida State/Miami).
Again this is all preliminary talk from the new commissioner. But it does exemplify that Jim Phillips is trying to look at football from a different lens than his predecessor John Swofford.
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