The past year was arguably the most consequential 12-month period in the ACC’s 7-decade history.

There were additions and threats of subtraction, undefeated seasons and unprecedented snubs.

It all added up to a year of change that will bring about a new beginning for the ACC or the beginning of the end of the conference.

Either way, the repercussions will be felt well beyond 2023.

Before looking ahead to see what the future might hold, here’s a look back at the top 10 events that shaped the past year in the ACC:

10. Mike Elko’s ugly departure

Mike Elko came to Duke from Texas A&M, won 9 games in his rookie season, beat Clemson to start his 2nd, energized a dormant fan base and got the Blue Devils back into a bowl.

And then, poof, he was gone. Back to Texas A&M.

It’s hardly a surprise that he came and went so quickly. His success in Durham put him at or near the top of the list of candidates for virtually every Power 5 opening. And he was the natural replacement for Jimbo Fisher, having served as A&M’s defensive coordinator before getting his head coaching shot.

It’s the way Elko departed that left Duke folks so disappointed. Less than 48 hours earlier, after taking his name out of consideration for the job at Michigan State, he told athletic director Nina King that he planned to coach the Blue Devils again in 2024.

Not only did he change his mind, he did it without informing his players that he was leaving. He boarded a plane in the middle of the night and whisked off to College Station, arriving at around 2 a.m. local time. Two weeks later, after the loss of quarterback Riley Leonard and several other starters, former Miami coach Manny Diaz was named as Elko’s replacement.

9. New role, same result

Winning national championships is nothing new for Erin Matson. She won 4 during her 5 All-American seasons as a field hockey player at North Carolina. Then shortly after graduating, she was named to replace her mentor, Hall of Famer Karen Shelton, as the Tar Heels’ head coach.

At the age of 23.

And in her first season, just 12 months after scoring the winning goal in the final minute-and-a-half of regulation to win a national title as a player, she became the youngest coach in any sport to win an NCAA championship when UNC beat Northwestern 2-1 in a double-overtime shootout.

“I don’t know how to put it into words,” Matson said after her one-time teammate Ryleigh Heck netted the game-winner in the 6th round of the shootout.

8. Success is in the Cards

Jeff Brohm wasn’t just any new hire when Louisville tabbed him to replace Scott Satterfield last December. The former Cardinals quarterback was viewed by his school’s fan base as a conquering hero, returning to his hometown and alma mater to rescue the program from its rut of mediocrity.

The job he did in Year 1 was nothing short of remarkable.

It was fair to predict that Brohm would be successful. He inherited a program coming off a winning season and a defense stocked with returning talent. He then bolstered that returning core with a skillful use of the transfer portal.

Blending all that talent into a cohesive unit and taking advantage of a conference schedule that avoided many of the ACC’s top teams, his Cardinals upset Notre Dame, rose as high as No. 10 in the Playoff rankings and won 10 games for only the 2nd time in program history on the way to a spot in the ACC Championship Game.

7. The war over Tez Walker

North Carolina is no stranger to battles against the NCAA. This time, though, an innocent athlete became collateral damage in a fight that escalated into a legal battle involving the state’s attorney general.

The player in the middle of the tug-of-war, wide receiver Tez Walker, was technically a 2nd-time transfer in the eyes of the NCAA. But because his 2020 season at NC Central was canceled by the COVID pandemic, he never actually played a game there.

He was granted a waiver to play this season when he enrolled at UNC on Jan. 9. But 2 days later, the NCAA changed its rules to make it more difficult for 2nd-time transfers to obtain a hardship waiver for immediate eligibility. And he was eventually ruled ineligible.

Rather than quietly accepting the decision, coach Mack Brown and athletic director Bubba Cunningham both issued tersely worded statements hammering the NCAA for its lack of compassion toward Walker and his family.

“The decision-makers at the NCAA and on the committee should be ashamed of themselves for doing this to a young man,” Brown said. “Plain and simple, the NCAA has failed Tez and his family, and I’ve lost all faith in its ability to lead and govern our sport.”

After a group of lawyers led by NC Attorney General Josh Stein intervened by threatening legal action, the NCAA eventually backed down and “freed” Walker. Despite missing 4 games, he still led the Tar Heels with 699 receiving yards and 7 touchdowns. He has since declared for the NFL Draft.

6. Enter Sandman at the Final Four

The Metallica song has become synonymous with Virginia Tech’s football team and its iconic entrance into Lane Stadium. But last spring, it was also adopted by the Hokies’ ACC champion women’s basketball team.

Led by 6-6 center Elizabeth Kitley, the 2-time conference Player of the Year, and dynamic point guard Georgia Amoore, they danced to it all the way to the Final Four for the first time in school history. Kitley was a force all season, averaging a double-double (18.2 points, 10.7 rebounds) while Amoore caught fire during the postseason, tying an NCAA regional record by making 20 3-pointers in 4 tournament games.

Coach Kenny Brooks’ top-seeded team won 31 games overall. It capped off a run of 15 straight victories by beating 3rd-seeded Ohio State 84-74 in the Seattle Regional final before seeing the streak snapped by Angel Reese and eventual champion LSU in the national semifinals.

5. Category 4 Hurricanes

Miami football has spent the better part of the past 2 decades – and a lot of money on coaching buyouts and facilities – trying to get the swagger back from its golden era of the 1980s and ’90s. But it took a low-key 70-something grinder with a basketball team full of transfers to finally provide the Hurricanes with a championship moment.

Seventeen years after taking George Mason on one of the most improbable Final Four runs in college basketball history, Jim Larrañaga got back again. And this time, the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame finalist brought Miami along with him — a first in program history.

Even though his Hurricanes upset top-seeded Houston and No. 2 Texas to win the NCAA’s Midwest Regional and earn their trip to the national semifinals, they were nowhere near as big an underdog as his first Final Four team.

Aided by some lucrative NIL deals that helped retain ACC Player of the Year Isaiah Wong and attract top transfers, including Nijel Pack and rebounding machine Norchad Omier, Miami fielded a balanced lineup that won 29 games and shared the conference regular-season title with Virginia.

4. ‘Little’ Wake Forest makes noise in Omaha

As if advancing through the NCAA Tournament as the No. 1 overall seed wasn’t pressure enough, Wake Forest’s baseball team also carried with it the added burden of trying to accomplish something that hadn’t been done since before their parents were born.

The Deacons were reminded of their school’s College World Series drought every time they stepped out of their dugout and saw the number 1955 – the last time they were there – emblazoned on the right centerfield wall. That only made it more special when they eliminated Alabama in their Super Regional series to make it back to Omaha.

Wake rode the strong arm of ACC Pitcher of the Year Rhett Lowder and a loaded batting order led by school record-setting home run king Brock Wilken to within 1 game of the national championship series. Even though the Deacons were eliminated in a heart-wrenching 11-inning semifinal loss to LSU, they received a hero’s welcome back in Winston-Salem.

They might be a little guy as far as enrollment is concerned. But when it comes to facilities, talent, coaching and institutional commitment to success, coach Tom Walter and his players showed the nation that Wake Forest is in it to win it just as seriously as the big boys of the Power 5.

3. Bye-bye, Boeheim

As a Hall of Famer with a national championship, 5 Final Fours and 1,116 victories to his credit (only 1,015 of which are official, according to the NCAA), Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim earned at least a measure of autonomy in determining when it was time to call it a career.

But bowing out gracefully wouldn’t have been on brand for a coach who may best be remembered for his angry scowls and caustic duels with the media as much as the title that he won. After finishing higher than a tie for 6th in the ACC only once since joining the league in 2013-14 and winning as many as 20 games only twice in the past 9 years, it was time to go.

Officially, college basketball’s most famous curmudgeon “stepped down” and was replaced by assistant Adrian Autry only a few hours after his Orange were eliminated by Wake Forest in the opening round of the ACC Tournament in March. But it was clear from his comments at a defiant final postgame press conference that he wasn’t exactly leaving on his terms.

It’s somehow poetic that Boeheim’s final game was played in Greensboro, the venue came to symbolize Boeheim’s dissatisfaction with Syracuse’s entrance into the conference.

2. Florida State’s season of discontent

The bar was set high for the Seminoles this season with 87% of their offensive and defensive production returning from last year’s 10-win team, to go along with one of the nation’s best incoming transfer classes.

And Mike Norvell’s team lived up to the hype.

It did everything it was asked to do, beating LSU in its season-opener, winning at Clemson and going undefeated on the way to its first ACC championship since 2014. But despite all that success, it’s doubtful anyone associated with the Seminoles will look back on 2023 with a sense of fondness.

FSU’s Board of Trustees set the dark tone before the season started by publicly threatening to leave the ACC if the league didn’t do something to reduce the massive revenue gap that exists between it, the SEC and Big Ten.

Then after star quarterback Jordan Travis was lost to a season-ending injury against Alabama State in the 11th regular-season game, the Seminoles suffered the indignity of becoming the first undefeated Power 5 conference champion in the Playoff era to be denied an opportunity to compete for a national title.

The fact that NC State athletic director Boo Corrigan chaired the selection committee that snubbed FSU in favor of 1-loss Texas and Alabama only added to the sting. Then, as an exclamation point to a truly turbulent year, the school’s Trustees took the first step toward a possible split with the ACC by filing a lawsuit challenging the grant of media rights that binds conference members to the league through 2036.

1. Going bi-coastal

The biggest news to come out of the ACC’s preseason Football Kickoff event in July didn’t involve any of the league’s 14 football-playing members. It was the announcement that Colorado was leaving the Pac-12 to join the Big 12.

Even though the move didn’t immediately affect the ACC, the chain reaction of realignment that followed quickly created ripples that eventually reached the conference. And forced its leadership into a decision.

Expand or stand pat?

“The ACC has been and remains highly engaged in looking at anything that makes us a better or stronger conference,” commissioner Jim Phillips said at the time. “We have a tremendous group of institutions, but if there was something that made us better we would absolutely be open to it.”

The book is still out on how much better and stronger the ACC is after adding Stanford, California and SMU. But it certainly is bigger. Not to mention bi-coastal.

The decision to pick over the remains of the now-defunct Pac-12 wasn’t universally celebrated. Four conference members – Florida State, Clemson, North Carolina and NC State – voted against expanding. But after some backroom negotiations, including SMU’s agreement to forgo any media rights revenue from the ACC for the next 7 years, NC State flipped its vote, and the deal was done.

It’s a move that smacks of desperation. Other than giving the ACC a better shot at staying above the 14-team threshold needed to maintain its contract with ESPN in the event Florida State and others leave, it doesn’t make much sense.

But what does make sense in college athletics these days?