The ACC is considering various scheduling models for the upcoming football season, including one that would have Notre Dame eligible to play in the conference championship game, sources told ESPN on Friday.
Sources indicated that was only one of various scheduling models under discussion, and changes continue to be made to models and proposed schedules. Any scheduling model needs approval from the ACC board of directors, made up of all 15 presidents and chancellors.
The preferred scheduling model is expected to be presented to them Wednesday.
Officials from the ACC and Notre Dame declined comment.
Stadium first reported on an ACC scheduling model that could include Notre Dame.
In addition to fluid discussions about what the schedule will look like is the topic of when the season will begin. Those discussions are ongoing, but like the Pac-12, the ACC is looking to build in bye weeks and can play its championship game as late as Dec. 19.
Unlike the other Power 5 conferences, the ACC has various scheduling partnerships, resulting in complicated discussions about what to do about the season schedule as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. One discussion would involve the four ACC/SEC rivalry games that schools from both conferences want to protect. Another is Notre Dame, an FBS independent that has an annual scheduling partnership with the ACC. Currently, Notre Dame has six scheduled ACC games.
For that reason, there has been no appetite in the ACC for a conference-only schedule, which is the route chosen by the Pac-12 and Big Ten.
Therefore, all discussions have centered on a conference-only model with one nonconference game. That would allow the four ACC schools with end-of-season rivalry games to play them.
But Notre Dame remains the biggest question, especially since the Irish are scheduled to play three teams with SEC rivalry games — Clemson, Louisville and Georgia Tech. In a plus-one model with Notre Dame as a nonconference opponent, it would be difficult for those three to keep the Irish on the schedule.
The way around that is to count Notre Dame as an ACC game. As a way to keep the schedules uniform, that would mean having Notre Dame play an ACC schedule for this season only, along with one nonconference game.
The question is whether Notre Dame wants to do that. The Irish have had three games canceled but currently have nine games scheduled — including against Navy and Arkansas. Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick told ESPN earlier this week that he prefers to play between eight to 10 games. In the 10-plus-1 model, everyone would play 11.
Other options have been discussed, including eight- and nine-game conference schedules plus a nonconference game. There also has been discussion about scrapping the division format and redoing all schedules based on region to alleviate concerns about long-distance travel.
Moving to a conference-only, plus-one schedule also ensures opponents have uniform coronavirus testing guidelines, stressing the need to have all teams adhere to the same testing and safety standards.