The addition of three new teams to the ACC’s membership — all three from outside its traditional East Coast footprint — means the conference’s football teams will once again feel more disconnected.
One year after introducing a football scheduling model that scrapped divisions to allow all teams to face each other more often, the league is moving in another direction beginning next season now that Stanford, California and Southern Methodist will join the league in 2024.
The new seven-year scheduling plan for the 2024-30 seasons, announced Monday night, continues without divisions and features 16 annual matchups, like Clemson-Florida State, Virginia-Virginia Tech and Duke-North Carolina.
But, it also means some ACC teams will face each other as few as twice over a seven-year period, and other matchups will happen only three times in the next seven years. That’s different than the model in place this season that had every team playing at least twice over a four-year period.
With a 17-team league that spreads over three time zones, such sacrifices were made while limiting frequent cross-country trips, keeping most regional rivalries intact and, of course, providing matchups the TV networks covet most.
“Throughout the entire scheduling model process,” ACC commissioner Jim Phillips said in a statement, “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.”
Each team will continue playing eight ACC games per season. The division-less setup, which began this season, will continue so the top two teams in the final regular-season standings will annually play in the ACC title game in Charlotte on December’s first Saturday.
None of the existing 14 teams will travel to California in back-to-back seasons, but they will all make three trips to play in California over the next seven seasons.
Duke, for example, doesn’t make its first league trip to the West Coast until 2025 when it plays at Cal. The Blue Devils’ first ACC game with Stanford will be a home game in 2026.
The schedule increases the number of protected annual matchups to 16, five more than were included in the current 3-3-5 model.
Duke, UNC and N.C. State will continue to play each other each season. Wake Forest will play Duke and N.C. State annually. But an annual Wake Forest-UNC league game is not on the schedule. Instead, UNC will play Virginia each season.
Stanford-Cal, SMU-Cal and Stanford-SMU will be the newest annual ACC games beginning next season.
The league’s three Northeastern U.S. teams, Boston College, Syracuse and Pittsburgh, will all play each other every season.
Other annual matchups include Virginia Tech-Virginia, Miami-Virginia Tech, Miami-Florida State and Florida State-Clemson.
Georgia Tech and Louisville have no annual league opponents. Clemson only has Florida State. Every other league team has at least two annual opponents, with Duke, N.C.State and UNC each having three.