The ACC Kickoff is always the unofficial start of football season, but usually it is pretty boring. That changed today with the official announcement of the ACC Network that will debut in 2019 as a separate channel similar to the SEC Network. The announcement was rumored earlier this week and the confirmation lines up with those reports.
Though the TV network will not officially start until 2019, there will be a digital component of the ACC Network starting this year. There really isn't anything special about this. All events current shown on ESPN3 will just be rebranded under the ACC Network. There will not be any studio content created for the ACC Network until 2019. It is slightly disappointing, but given the costs for studio productions and the low viewership on streaming channels, it isn't surprising.
Perhaps the biggest surprise was the announcement that the ACC will move to a 20 game conference schedule in basketball. The move will occur for the 2019-2020 season. For the conspiracy theorists among you this is when the ACC Network will launch. Because of this, it is worth wondering if we will see a renewed push to move to a 9 game conference schedule in 2019 to increase the inventory of ACC games for the ACC Network. Hopefully this does not happen because it would likely kill any opportunity Clemson has of consistently playing quality out of conference opponents. Instead the Tigers would be stuck with 9 conference teams, South Carolina, and 2 low level FBS or FCS schools to round out the schedule in non-Notre Dame years.
The downside is of course making the NCAA Tournament. This makes it harder for Clemson to get to 20 wins and get an NCAA Tournament berth, but because of the difficulty in Clemson's schedule now 11 ACC wins should be enough to get the Tigers into the tournament. They would still be a bubble team, but given our better performances in ACC play and inexplicable losses in out of conference games, maybe this change will work out well for Clemson.