The ACC sent information requests to four cities (Jacksonville, Charlotte, Tampa and Orlando) for consideration in hosting the ACC Championship Game in ’08, ’09 and ’10. An announcement is expected following the title game in December. Swofford indicated the process is not necessarily a winner-take-all situation, as the game could be held at the same site for three years, or could be moved around to the different locations.
Following the recent gambling scandal involving NBA referee Tim Donaghy, Swofford emphasized the conference’s commitment to maintaining integrity in officiating. The league will begin its second year of background checks on all 225 referees associated with the ACC in football, men’s basketball and women’s basketball. While the NCAA uses background checks for referees working postseason tournaments and bowl games, the ACC and the Big Ten are the only conferences that currently investigate their officials.
Doug Rhoads was introduced as the Coordinator of Football Officials, replacing Tommy Hunt. The 28-year officiating veteran highlighted a number of rules changes for the upcoming season:
(1) Reverting back to the 2005 rules, the clock will not start on kickoffs until a player touches the ball;
(2) Following TV timeouts, teams will work with a 15-second play clock;
(3) Kickoffs will be moved back to the 30-yard-line, a move Rhoads suggested will allow for a return on every play;
(4) When an official hands the place kicker the ball on kickoffs, the play clock will start immediately;
(5) Also reverting back to the 2005 rules, the clock will not start on change of possession until the snap.
Rhoads also spoke about instant replay, indicating there will be three new instances in which the system can be used – error in downs, interference off the bench, and muffing the kick. The terminology used in instant replay has also been adjusted – officials will state that a call has been confirmed on the field, a play stands as called or that a play has been reversed.
The ACC Headquarters in Greensboro were expanded from 12,000 sq. ft. to 18,000 sq. ft. following conference expansion, and the league built a gameday command center in that additional space. Rhoads believes this “war room” will set the standard across the nation, allowing his staff to watch four games simultaneously. The set-up will not be quick enough to override live game calls, as it is designed more for learning and training in preventative measures. There are plans in the future for a direct line of communication with replay officials on game sites.
The ACC football coaches asked the league to push for an early signing period in their sport at the spring meeting. Swofford said that there is plenty of debate concerning that topic, as the SEC and Pac-10 are against the move.
While the league has no official stance on a potential BCS Plus-1 game, Swofford stated that discussions have been ongoing about various options for creating some type of system to improve the current BCS set-up.
ESPN Game Day will be live at Blacksburg on Sept. 1, when Virginia Tech hosts East Carolina on opening weekend. In a season-long tribute to the Virginia Tech victims this spring, all of the conference athletic teams will wear a black stripe on their uniforms.
The ACC set a conference record last season with 4.4 million in attendance over 85 football games.
The league is 25-16 in bowl games since 2001, and is the only conference to not post a losing record in postseason play over the last six seasons.
A record nine ACC football games will be televised on Sept. 8, including four nationally-televised contests.