How NC State Might Fit Into Possible ACC Schedule Scenarios

Brett Friedlander

In his statement Friday delaying the ACC's decision on how to proceed with football this fall until later this month, commissioner John Swofford indicated that the conference "has prepared numerous scenarios related to the fall athletics season."

Among the possible options are playing the season as scheduled, following the lead of the Big Ten and Pac-12 by going to a conference only schedule, playing a "plus one" conference schedule that would allow for games against Notre Dame or a traditional SEC rival and a radical 10-game home-and-home arrangement with regional pods.

Since it's highly doubtful the season will go off as planned given the current track of the coronavirus pandemic, if it happens at all this fall, that figures to be the least-likely solution.

As for the others, here's a look at how they might play out and which might be most favorable for NC State.

Conference only

This is probably the most palatable of the remaining options, provided that the current conference schedule is used. Yes, the Wolfpack would still have to play Clemson, along with its six other Atlantic Division rivals. But it would also preserve the season-ending rivalry game against North Carolina as well as that long-awaited first meeting with Duke since 2013.

Conference plus one

This is the most likely solution, since it deals with Notre Dame and its contractual agreement to play six ACC opponents this season while allowing Clemson, Georgia Tech, Florida State and Louisville to continue long-standing rivalries.

As workable as this scenario is, there are still two major questions that would have to be answered before it can be adopted.

The big one for State is who the "plus one" would be for the Wolfpack, since its traditional season-ending rival is already on the schedule. The best solution would be to play Mississippi State as planned, since the SEC would have to use a similar format to accomodate its half of the Clemson-South Carolina, Georgia Tech-Georgia, Florida State-Florida and Louisville-Kentucky rivalries.

Even with that, there's still a question of how to deal with Notre Dame.

Not everyone around the league is as gung ho about having the Irish included in a conference only format as Swofford. Duke coach Dave Cutcliffe, for one, is not in favor of Notre Dame's participation if it doesn't pony up some of the income it gets from its exclusive television contract with NBC.

“If they’re willing to share their money, sure," Cutcliffe said. "But you don’t get something for nothing.”

Home-and-home pods

If travel and geography is as legitimate a concern as conference officials claim it is, than this might be the way to go.

In a nutshell, it would replace the league's current two divisions into three five-team pods based on proximity (with Notre Dame included). Each team would play the other four in the pod twice -- once at home and once in the road.

This is an actually an interesting idea if administered equitably and all four North Carolina teams are grouped together. But you know how these things usually end up breaking for the Wolfpack.

Exhibit A:

A lot of the models being floated around have State left out of a pod including its UNC, Duke and Wake Forest and the two Virginia schools. That would relegate the Wolfpack into a group with Clemson, which would not go over well. 

This format would also work in an "and one" scenario and could also be a trial balloon for a possible permanent restructuring of the current divisional format.

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