The ACC is at a crossroads with an uncertain future, and there are several ways it could unfold.

ACC insider David Hale of ESPN outlined several of the possibilities in a Twitter thread, but also was resigned to the fact that “there is no easy answer.”

1) everyone waits until 2036-ish
2) ND joins or other expansion
3) ESPN renegotiates
4) The league is dissolved
5) School(s) fight GoR in court

The first option speaks to the idea that outrage of the “Magnificent 7” was largely by design, Hale wrote, but why is being $500 million behind the SEC by 2036 “untenable.”

“Hasn’t the ACC always made less than the SEC and B1G and still won champs? Yes! And in all likelihood, if this was 2018 and the gap stayed around $15-20M, it’d be OK. But there are 2 bigger issues at play now.”

What the ACC is preparing for is the seemingly inevitable development that players will be paid. Hale wrote that the courts could soon erase the middle man, and rule that athletes are employees with salaries from schools.

Another issue is the growing recruiting perception of the “Big 2” between the SEC and B1G.

Notre Dame going to the ACC has always been unlikely, and while it was given lip service, it won’t be taken seriously. Other expansion ideas to bring in the likes of Oregon, Washington, SMU and West Virginia would not bring enough money, but some athletics directors are frustrated that the league isn’t at least pursuing expansion aggressively.