On Tuesday, Atlantic Coast Conference officials announced that they have done away with divisions and introduced a new football scheduling format, the 3-5-5 model, which will begin in 2023.
Under the 3-5-5 model, each team will compete against the same three primary opponents each season and rotate between the 10 remaining secondary conference opponents. North Carolina's three primary opponents are Duke, N.C. State and Virginia. UNC will face these teams every season, alternating between home and away games every year.
Each ACC team will compete against its secondary opponents twice, once away and once at home, during a four-year span. This will allow each team in the ACC to host every conference foe at least once every scheduling cycle.
"I preferred the divisions, and I still believe that the larger number of teams, the more you divide it into smaller divisions that play more frequently, the better it is," UNC athletic director Bubba Cunningham said Tuesday on the radio show "The OG" on 99.9 The Fan.
Cunningham did concede that he understood why many support the change, though.
"I get the argument that, hey, you're in a league where a lot of our student-athletes would like to play everybody, at least go to their stadium once in their four years, then that's what this configuration does for us," he said.
The format for the ACC Championship Game also changed. Now, the two teams with the highest conference winning percentages at the end of the season will go on to compete in the ACC championship game, a tweak to the conference’s current format with divisional winners competing in the conference title game.
With these changes, the ACC hopes to bring a fresh look to the football regular and postseason, allowing all conference teams to compete against one another on a more consistent basis.
"The future ACC football scheduling model provides significant enhancements for our schools and conference, with the most important being our student-athletes having the opportunity to play every school both home and away over a four-year period," ACC commissioner Jim Phillips said in Tuesday's press release.
For the 2023 season, North Carolina will face Duke, Miami, Syracuse and Virginia at home and take on Clemson, Georgia Tech, N.C. State and Pittsburgh on the road. In the following year, the Tar Heels will host Boston College, N.C. State, Pittsburgh and Virginia Tech and travel to take on Duke, Florida State, Louisville and Virginia.
For the upcoming season, the ACC will still compete under its current, two-division format. The Tar Heels begin their 2022 campaign on Aug. 27 against Florida A&M and begin conference play against Virginia Tech in early October.