Swofford Backs Call for Rules Change
By Jacob Shoor
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The ACC wants to make it as easy as possible for Notre Dame to become a full conference member, and this proposed NCAA rules change will facilitate that.
The central portion of ESPN's "ACC winter meetings rewind" is this long quote from John Swofford:
“The Big 12 is putting forward legislation that would give the conferences more freedom to determine whether they have a conference football championship game, and how you determine if you do have such a game, how you determine who plays in it,” Swofford said. “They’re asking that the number 12 be removed. That really doesn’t affect us, but we agreed that the conferences really should have the freedom to decide whether they want to have a conference championship game, regardless of the number of teams that they have.
"It’s consistent with a lot of the deregulation that is going on with the NCAA right now with all kinds of legislation," he said. "It also stipulates you have to have divisions and you have to play everybody in your division in order to be a division champion and play in the conference championship game. It just takes a determination of such things out of the NCAA and puts it in the hands of the conferences. We voted to support that. That doesn’t mean we would change anything. That shouldn’t be taken as an indication that we would change how we do our championship game, we simply conceptually believe the conference should have the freedom to address that, rather than it being stipulated by the NCAA legislative requirements."
That the ACC backs the Big 12 in this does not require the ACC to change anything, but if the NCAA rule is altered, the ACC will gain the freedom to make changes that can help the league.
First, if a conference no longer must have two divisions with equal numbers of members that play a round robin in order to stage a conference championship game, then Notre Dame could be added as the 15th and final full member of ACC football. That might not be what the Irish would prefer, but in case it is, the ACC wants the option. In addition, ND as a full member for football of a 16-team ACC might prefer to play fewer than eight annual games against ACC teams, thus rotating across the league more quickly.
The ACC wants to be able to make it as easy as possible for the Irish to take the plunge, and this proposed NCAA rules change will facilitate that.
Second, such changes would allow the ACC to end divisional play in football now, which would have advantages for the conference. A 14-member league playing eight league games per year without divisional scheduling could have each team paired with three or four or six annual rivals. The league would decide what works best for the league.
Perhaps equally important, playing without divisions would eliminate having seasons in which the second best team in the conference is shut out of the championship game because it lost its division. The two teams with the best records would play for the championship, probably with ties decided by the BCS/playoff rankings.
The SEC also could take advantage of the proposed change. Missouri in the SEC East is ridiculous, and ending divisional play will correct that problem.
If this proposal passes, look for all five major conferences to take advantage and end divisional scheduling.