ACC unveils 7-year football slate for new 17-team league

ByAndrea Adelson ESPN logo
Monday, October 30, 2023

The ACC revealed its new seven-year football scheduling model as a 17-team league with new members Cal, Stanfordand SMUon Monday, featuring 16 protected matchups that will go into effect starting with the 2024 season.

The league will continue to play eight conference games without divisions. All 17 teams will play each other at least twice over the next seven seasons -- once at home and once on the road. The 14 current ACC teams will play a total of three times each in California through 2030, and none will travel to California in back-to-back seasons.

In a change from the current 3-3-5 scheduling model, which the ACC adopted for this season, not every school has the same number of protected rivalry games. Some schools have three; the majority have two; Clemsonhas one; Georgia Techand Louisvillehave zero.

Eleven of the 16 protected games have been retained from the current model. Miami-Virginia Techand NC State-Wake Forestare restored from the previous divisional format, while Cal, Stanford and SMU will all play each other.

The annual protected matchups are: Boston College-Syracuse, Boston College-Pitt, Syracuse-Pitt, North Carolina-Virginia, North Carolina-Duke, North Carolina-NC State, NC State-Wake Forest, NC State-Duke, Duke-Wake Forest, Virginia Tech-Virginia, Florida State-Clemson, Miami-Florida State, Miami-Virginia Tech, Stanford-Cal, Stanford-SMU, and Cal-SMU.

"Throughout the entire scheduling model process, the membership was incredibly thoughtful and purposeful in building a creative, flexible and aggressive conference scheduling model while keeping the student-athlete experience at the forefront," ACC commissioner Jim Phillips said in a statement. "The excitement and anticipation for our teams, alumni and fans will undoubtedly build as we look ahead to the future of this incredible conference."

In coming up with the new scheduling model, athletic directors from each school collaborated with the league to help determine the matchups they wanted to protect. Ultimately, the league ADs approved the new scheduling model. In the case of Georgia Tech and Louisville, both schools agreed they did not need any games protected, and that allowed the league more creativity and flexibility in arranging the entire schedule.

"I was vocal to the conference office that we don't have a true rival in the ACC, so we can be more flexible with trying to put a schedule together," Louisville athletic director Josh Heird told ESPN. "What are the tried-and-true rivals we have to keep together? Viewership drives some of these matchups. But all in all, I think everybody is pretty happy -- as happy as you can be trying to accommodate 17 different wants and needs."

Though Clemson and Georgia Tech will go away as an annual rivalry after their 89th matchup later this year, the teams will play four times between 2024 and 2030. Clemson-NC State, which has been played 91 times, also goes away as an annual game to allow the Wolfpack to play Duke, North Carolina and Wake Forest on an annual basis. But in a nod to that series history, Clemson-NC State will play three times over seven years.

With the league now spanning the East Coast to the West Coast, geography was taken into consideration in this new model. The league wanted to minimize the number of repeat trips to the same geographic region in the same season, and maximize the percentage of games against teams within close proximity.

For example, Clemson, Georgia Tech, Florida State and Miami play each other in 24% of their games between 2024 and 2030. Boston College, Pitt, Louisville and Syracuse will have 32% of their games against one another. The Carolina and Virginia schools also will play each other more frequently.

Miami, NC State and Syracuse head west to play at Cal in 2024, while Louisville, SMU, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest will play at Stanford.

Though Cal, Stanford and SMU did not get an official vote on the scheduling model, all three schools participated in the discussions and had input. Cal athletic director Jim Knowlton was added to the football scheduling committee after the Bears joined the ACC.

"We play each of the [existing] ACC schools three times in the next seven years, and we have fans who are really excited for trips to Boston or Syracuse, North Carolina and Florida," Knowlton told ESPN. "I think there's a chance to develop rivalries that will grow on every Cal alum and fan."

The one school not included in the schedule release Monday is Notre Dame, which plays a set of nonconference games against ACC schools annually. That rotation will be determined at a later date, but it remains unclear whether future Notre Dame-Stanford games will count as an ACC game or remain nonconference.

The 2024 football schedule with specific game dates for all matchups will be announced Jan. 31, 2024, on the ACC Network.

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