The College Football Playoff’s Board of Managers on Tuesday announced revisions to the format for its newly-expanded 12-team tournament.

It was a move made necessary by the collapse of the Pac-12 Conference. But indirectly and most likely inadvertently, it may also have saved the ACC from a similar fate.

The new format provides automatic bids for the 5 highest-ranked conference champions, with the final 7 at-large teams placed in the bracket “as determined by the CFP selection committee.” That all but guarantees there won’t be a repeat of this year’s fiasco in which undefeated Florida State was left out in the cold.

But that’s not the most significant aspect of Tuesday’s announcement. At least from the ACC’s perspective.

Concentrate on the phrase “conference champions.”

It means that in order to earn an automatic bid and 1 of the 1st-round byes available to the top 4 seeded conference champions in the field, a team must be a football-playing member of a conference.

And you know who isn’t.

Because of the conference champion requirement, Notre Dame – always a wild card in the Playoff equation and the ACC’s most plausible lifeline for long-term survival – will not be eligible to receive a bye. Even if it goes undefeated and is ranked No. 1 in the national polls.

That leaves the Irish with a decision.

Do they suck it up, settle for hosting a 1st-round game if seeded between Nos. 5-8? Or do they finally come to the realization that the cost of remaining independent has gotten too high and make the move they’ve been avoiding since they began playing football in 1887?

If they opt for the latter, it’s a safe assumption that the ACC will be their landing spot.

They’re already a member of the league in virtually every other sport. They played a conference schedule in 2020 to avoid having their season canceled by the COVID pandemic, won the regular season and made it to the ACC Championship game.

Most important, they signed a grant of media rights, the same one that Florida State is so desperately trying to break, that contractually binds them to the ACC should they ever decide to break tradition and go the conference route.

Speaking of the Seminoles …

Their attitude toward the ACC is bound to change – for the better – with Notre Dame stirred into the mix.

Adding the Irish as a football-playing member would increase the value of the league’s media deal with ESPN exponentially, helping to bridge its current revenue gap against the SEC and Big Ten. Especially if it also steers the secondary package currently aired on The CW to Notre Dame’s broadcast partner NBC/Peacock.

A restructuring of the contract could also open the door for an uneven distribution plan that gives a larger percentage of the ACC’s income to the schools whose brands are the most profitable.

That might just be enough to convince the FSU to drop its lawsuit and stay in the conference, where it would have a much clearer path to a Playoff berth than in either the SEC or Big Ten. And certainly as an independent.

The wheels for such a scenario may already be in motion.

While speculation of a possible exit deal has been running rampant since the ACC asked a Florida court to pause FSU’s case against it late last week, it’s just as possible that the legal timeout is a tool designed to buy time until the details of Notre Dame’s entry as the league’s 18th full-time member can be worked out.

Maybe as soon as this summer.

As much as the Irish might disdain the idea of conference affiliation, the circumstances surrounding it have become a little more palatable thanks to the ACC’s impending Western expansion.

The league’s addition of Stanford, California and SMU gives it a presence in California and Texas – the 2 most populous states in the nation – and allows Notre Dame to maintain its status as a national brand.

It also gives the Irish, who are already contracted to play 5-6 ACC opponents each year, an opportunity to maintain their annual series against Stanford and traditional rivalry with Boston College while maintaining the scheduling flexibility to continue playing high-profile nonconference matchups. In addition to making them eligible for 1 of those precious 1st-round Playoff byes.

The landscape of college athletics is changing. Rapidly. First conference realignment. Then open transfers and name, likeness and image compensation for the “student-athletes.” Now Playoff expansion and an even more dramatic conference realignment.

Through it all, the folks in South Bend have clung to their independent status as if it were a rosary at confession.

But not even the most beloved traditions last forever.

There comes a time in which you’re forced to either adapt or get left behind. Thanks to the members of the College Football Playoff’s Board of Managers, that time for Notre Dame is now.

And the ACC stands to benefit.