GREENSBORO, N.C. — Talk of expansion and future affiliations with BCS bowls is prevalent in college football these days, and the Atlantic Coast Conference is no exception.
At the preseason football meetings that concluded Monday, those topics were addressed by commissioner John Swofford in his state of the conference address.
Swofford said the ACC is happy with 14 teams — Syracuse and Pittsburgh will join next July — and he said there are no plans for further expansion at this time. Then he was asked about the elephant in the room, Notre Dame. “Notre Dame has expressed a strong interest to remain as an independent,” said Swofford.
But talks with the Irish about becoming a potential opponent for the ACC champion in the Orange Bowl have begun, and there also has been talk that the Irish might be offered a compromise: Play six games a year against ACC teams each season, and join the ACC in all other sports as a full member.
Several ACC school officials said they would listen with great interest regarding such a proposal.
Boston College has played Notre Dame on a regular basis the past several years, and although that now won’t happen for a few years, the rivalry will be picked up in the future.
The other topic under discussion was to include Notre Dame as part of a rotation of teams from the Southeastern Conference, Big 12, and Big 10 as possible Orange Bowl opponents for the ACC champ, with the highest ranked team available as the opponent.
The Orange Bowl has worked out a deal in which it is locked into a Jan. 1, afternoon time slot each season unless the ACC champion qualifies for one of the Final Four semifinal games that will begin to be played following the 2014 season.
Picks to click
To the surprise of almost no one, Florida State and Virginia Tech were the choices to win the Atlantic and Coastal Division races, respectively. The Seminoles were the choice as conference champion. Boston College was picked fifth in the Atlantic . . . Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins was the choice as Offensive Player of the Year.Mark Blaudschun can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.