College football’s 2020 season is filled with uncertainty due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the ACC took a step towards a return to the gridiron this fall. On Wednesday, the conference announced a revamped schedule, which includes 10 ACC contests and one non-conference game. Additionally, Notre Dame will play as a member for the 2020 season and is eligible to play in the conference title game. There are no divisions this fall, so all 15 teams will be grouped into one pool with winning percentage counting as the determining factor for the teams in the conference championship game.
Here’s what you need to know about the revamped 2020 ACC schedule:
Notre Dame is a Full ACC Member for 2020
For the first time in its program history, Notre Dame will compete for a conference title. It’s just a one-year marriage, as the Fighting Irish are returning to an Independent slate in 2021. Coach Brian Kelly’s team has won double-digit games in each of the last three years and will be one of the favorites to earn a trip to the conference title. Notre Dame was already slated to play Clemson but adding Florida State and North Carolina adds intrigue to the ACC slate. Regardless of how it turns out in wins and losses, it’s a historic one-year arrangement for both parties.
The Start Date of the Season Has Changed
Originally, the ACC season was slated to kick off on Sept. 2 with NC State visiting Louisville. However, Wednesday’s announcement indicates the new start date is anywhere from Sept. 7-12.
Order and Dates…TBD
Even though we have the opponents each team will play, the actual order of games and dates of those contests aren’t set. They will be released later this summer. In the ACC’s release announcing the revamped schedule, commissioner John Swofford indicated additional flexibility may be needed this season: “We recognize that we may need to be nimble and make adjustments in the future. We will be as prepared as possible should that need arise.”
Opponents: 10 ACC Games + 1 Non-Conference Matchup
You can throw those 2020 schedules from earlier this spring in the trash can. The ACC is going with 10 conference matchups and one non-conference game. The 11-game slate for each team looks a lot different than the schedules originally planned for 2020.
No Divisions for 2020
Instead of the usual Atlantic and Coastal setup, the ACC is utilizing a 15-team setup for 2020. All 15 teams will compete for the two spots in the conference title game in Charlotte. The two spots will be selected by using the highest winning percentage in conference games.
Non-Conference Games…With a Caveat
The ACC’s revamped schedule does not list non-conference games for the 15 teams. Those matchups are likely to be announced in the next few weeks, but if any are played, they must take place in the home state of an ACC institution. Also, the non-conference opponent has to meet the ACC medical protocol requirements.
Moving to a conference-only slate allows the ACC much-needed flexibility in case it needs to move games around or make changes to the schedule due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s much easier to make changes when dealing with conference games, as opposed to trying to move non-conference matchups around in a tight window. If the season starts on Sept. 12, a Dec. 19 ACC Championship Game allows for 15 Saturdays – hopefully enough time and flexibility to stage a complete season. According to the conference release, the goal is to play 11 games over 13 weeks and every team is slated for two off dates.
The ACC Championship Game will be played in Charlotte once again, but the exact date isn’t settled. With the possibility of rescheduled games or an adjusted slate, the conference is penciling in Dec. 12 or 19 for the title game.
Notre Dame’s TV Revenue
With Notre Dame joining the ACC for 2020, the program’s television money associated with the NBC contract (and the conference’s usual payout) will be equally shared among the 15 teams.
New Matchups and Lost Games
The revamped schedule features a couple of intriguing matchups that weren’t originally slated for 2020. Notre Dame now hosts Florida State and plays at North Carolina, while Miami has to play at Clemson. On the flipside, Louisville won’t play Clemson this year and North Carolina misses Pitt. The Fighting Irish miss NC State, Virginia Tech, Miami and Virginia.
ACC Opponents Missed
Florida State, Wake Forest, NC State and Miami
Louisville, NC State, North Carolina and Duke
Clemson, Miami, Pitt and Louisville
Wake Forest, Virginia Tech, Boston College and Syracuse
North Carolina, Virginia Tech, Virginia and Wake Forest
Clemson, NC State, North Carolina and Duke
Boston College, Syracuse, Notre Dame and Duke
Clemson, Louisville, Pitt and Georgia Tech
Clemson, Louisville, Notre Dame and Boston College
NC State, Virginia Tech, Virginia and Miami
Wake Forest, North Carolina, Virginia and Duke
Florida State, Virginia Tech, Miami and Virginia
Pitt, Georgia Tech, Notre Dame and Syracuse
Notre Dame, Florida State, Syracuse and Georgia Tech
Florida State, Boston College, Pitt and Georgia Tech
Testing and Health Standards
For football matchups, every ACC team must test players for COVID-19 within three days of the game.
Key Information from the ACC’s Release: (Read the complete guide here)
*Pursuant to CDC guidance, a student-athlete who tests positive for COVID-19 shall be isolated for at least 10 days from the onset of symptoms/positive test and at least 1 day (i.e., 24 hours) has passed since recovery defined as resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and improvement of respiratory symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath).
*A student-athlete who has tested positive is not subject to weekly pre-competition testing for a period of 90 days from the date of the positive test unless the student-athlete exhibits symptoms consistent with COVID-19 (even those with minimal symptoms).
*In all sports, positive test results of any Team Member who came into close contact (within six (6) feet for at least 15 minutes) with any member(s) of any opposing team(s) played during the preceding 48 hours shall be shared as quickly as possible and no later than 24 hours following receipt of the test result, to any such opponent(s). The infected individual’s role as a Team Member (e.g., setter, offensive lineman, quarterback, assistant coach, athletic trainer) and a summary of their interactions with the opposing team (e.g., played in the second half) shall be included in the information sharing. Unless authorized by the individual or otherwise required by law, the individual’s name may not be shared with the opposing team(s). The Chief Medical Officer (or his or her medical designee) of the school of the infected individual shall share this information with the prior opponent’s Chief Medical Officer (or his or her medical designee).
Factors Impacting Canceled Games
The ACC listed five factors in its health standards document that may result in games being canceled:
* Inability to isolate new positive cases, or to quarantine high contact risk cases of the traveling and home team University students.
*Unavailability or inability to perform symptomatic, surveillance or precompetition testing as required.
*Campus-wide or local community transmission rates that are considered unsafe by local public health officials.
*Inability to perform adequate contact tracing consistent with governmental requirements or recommendations.
*Local public health officials of the home team state that there is an inability for the hospital infrastructure to accommodate a surge in COVID-related hospitalizations.
(Top graphic courtesy of @ACCFootball)