ACC’s expansion plan isn’t much of a plan

“Opportunities never come to those who wait. They are captured by those who dare to attack.”

This quote pretty much sums up what the ACC is doing right now with regards to expansion. A whole lot of nothing. It’s a shame too, because I definitely think the ACC has — or maybe had — the potential to join the Pac-10 in becoming one of the new Super Conferences which will start shaping college sports very soon. That potential is surely down the drain at this point and, in my opinion, the ACC is going to be extremely lucky to get out of this latest round of expansion unscathed. Maryland, Georgia Tech, Clemson, FSU, Miami and even Duke and Carolina have all been rumored to be on the radar of other major conferences. Can you imagine if even half of those teams left for greener pastures? I can.

WRAL’s Tim Hall talked about NC State’s “plan” in a blog post on Fankind this morning.

The ACC is not going to be an aggressor in this game, but it will react to expansion if it has to. Dinich said that philosophy has not changed since ACC commissioner John Swofford spoke about it a month ago.

“I think we’re very happy where we are as 12 and very happy with the 12 that we have. But at the same time I don’t think any conference would be doing its due diligence if you stuck your head in the sand,” Swofford told the Orlando Sentinel. “And we will not do that. We will be very aware and conscious of what’s going on around us and what the potentialities may be in terms of changes.”

So the ACC will react if it has to. In a matter of a month there might not be anything left to react to. The Pac-10 and the Big Ten may already be 16-team power leagues, and the SEC might come knocking on the door of ACC schools. But in the meantime what is the ACC supposed to do? Invite over an SEC team? No one is going to leave a large TV contract for a smaller one.

ESPN’s Heather Dinich also touched on expansion recently, discussing the committee the ACC has put together to “keep an eye” on expansion.

The conference confirmed that an ad-hoc committee comprised of university presidents, athletic directors and faculty representatives was formed this spring to monitor expansion and lead the discussions should the conference need to react. The ACC has no plans on being an aggressor in any of this, though, and nothing has changed since commissioner John Swofford spoke at the league spring meetings.

Lead the discussions should the conference need to react? SHOULD THE CONFERENCE NEED TO REACT? Really? Hey John, here’s some free advice. The ACC NEEDS to react, and quick.

It really is a shame that Swofford has chosen not to be more proactive with this latest round of changes in college sports. Who cares if it’s been just seven years since the ACC made changes? In the real world you have to change and adapt all the time if you want to keep up. Why should sports be any different?

The ACC could have very easily been one of the leaders in all of this and gone after some Big East teams as early as a couple years ago when these rumors first started catching on. Pittsburgh, Rutgers, West Virginia and Syracuse would make the ACC better in football and basketball and improve the conferences TV power in the eastern time zone. That’s just one possibility, there are dozens more. But no, the ACC has decided to sit on its hands and do nothing. I wonder how long it took to come up with that plan? My guess is less than five minutes.

The next couple of weeks will be a crucial time for all of college athletics, and the ACC better get ready. Despite its failure to be proactive in this the ACC can still save itself to a degree and prepare for the changes which will happen in the next few days. Make some phone calls to Big East schools. Try and figure out what the SEC is thinking. Do anything besides what you’ve done to this point.

ACC & Other College Basketball College Football

42 Responses to ACC’s expansion plan isn’t much of a plan

  1. howlie 06/11/2010 at 12:27 PM #

    One question:
    If UNC goes SEC, what happens to Swofford? He’s like Cornwallis looking for a general’s job in the new United States…

  2. Wolf-n-Atl 06/11/2010 at 12:41 PM #

    I thought the ACC had a plan when we went to 12 to move to 16 when the time came. It is really disheartening if we sit back watch everything happen and then get raided and become a 2nd tier conference.

  3. wolf88 06/11/2010 at 1:03 PM #

    I’m really fine with this strategy. I’m content being a second tier football conference. I liked the nine team format we had in the 90s. It was really conducive to rivalries between institutions, and it allowed for full round-robins (in fball) and double round-robins (in bball). I don’t really care about the tv deals as much as the play, and a 16 team league just isn’t very intriguing. In football you could go consecutive years without playing a particular conference opponent, and that just doesn’t lend itself to creating any kind of dynamic between schools. If we lose some schools then we should look at schools to replace them, but I’ll be disappointed if we end up with more than 12 teams.

  4. leewolf 06/11/2010 at 1:12 PM #

    First things first, people can forget mentioning WVU, USF, Louisville, or Cincinnati (though they are closer than the other three). Those schools have academic reputations that will automatically garner enough no-votes from league presidents to leave them out of the discussion. Case closed.

    Here is the problem that Swofford and everyone in the ACC office is staring in the face: money. They aren’t dummies, I’m sure in the last round of negotiations with ESPN they discussed hypothetical situations in terms of how much value was going to be added by schools like UConn, Pitt, Syracuse, Rutgers, and Notre Dame (the only five viable expansion choices for the ACC). I can guarantee you that on a per year basis only a combination of schools including Notre Dame actually trued out to keep the league at it’s current $12 MM/year per school TV revenue. I just don’t see a combination of any two or four schools that doesn’t include Notre Dame bringing enough dollars to the table. So then if you decide to expand, you are telling your member schools “hey, we’re going to add these schools, further dilute the conference schedule, potentially push more of your games off of ABC/ESPN/ESPN2 and replace more consistent rivals with more Northeast schools your fans don’t care about…oh and by the way you will be getting less money on top of that!”

    The university presidents and ADs aren’t going to buy it and Swofford knows that. So what can he do? What he has already done most likely. Had some preliminary discussions to feel those five schools out about their general idea about joining the ACC at some point and wait to pull the trigger if the ACC comes under fire.

    And is there really that big of a chance the ACC comes under fire? Keep in mind ESPN already owns the rights to both the SEC and ACC. To make adding schools viable, the SEC has to assume that FSU, GT, Clemson, and Miami (for instance) are each going to be worth $5-6 MM a year more in the SEC than the are in the ACC. Is that the case? Sure they are probably worth a little more but I highly doubt that much. The bottom line is that ESPN already has those states locked up through their SEC and ACC contracts, so what is the incentive for them to pay the SEC more money to add schools they already have under contract?

  5. bradleyb123 06/11/2010 at 1:13 PM #

    I think they’re (Swofford, et al…) confused. To pursue expansion NOW would not be aggressive. It would be reactionary. It is already happening. To wait until we HAVE to react will only put us in a worse position. Because if they’re waiting until an ACC member decides to leave, then we’ll be that much further behind the eight-ball when we make the move to 16 teams. We’ll need five or more, instead of just four, and that’s even worse when you consider there will be that many FEWER teams to choose from. I’d rather add four from a BIG pool of schools than five or more from a much SMALLER pool of schools.

    I hate this expansion. I think a 12 team conference is already too many. But I’d rather move to 16 than sit here and watch the whole conference evaporate, or worse, end up with a bunch of second-rate schools replacing the ones that left.

    We need to do this while there are more schools to choose from.

  6. packof81 06/11/2010 at 1:30 PM #

    This expansion issue is breathtaking. I ain’t too keen on the expansion that’s already taken place. But now a kind of corporate raider ethos has reached some tipping point and we find ourselves in a game of musical conferences, in danger of losing key members to a super conference if we don’t become one ourselves by raiding other conferences. Seems like we’re damned if we do and damned if we don’t.

  7. 61Packer 06/11/2010 at 1:30 PM #

    The ACC has never been a top tier football conference. Florida State was a great ACC program, but that greatness was built on beatdowns against the rest of the league. Having FSU in the ACC certainly didn’t make the Wolfpack any more successful in football.

    Bobby Bowden is gone from FSU, and Jimbo Fisher, like Clemson’s Dabo Swinney and Miami’s Randy Shannon, is a big question mark as to whether he can restore past glory. It looks to me like only the two Techs have coaching staffs with that capability right now.

    The ACC quest for football greatness has hurt basketball, which has defined our conference for the past half-century. Eventually someone in the ACC hierarchy needs to see that another expansion should be aimed at basketball at least as much as football. Syracuse, West Virginia, Louisville and Pitt would not only probably help football, but they would absolutely raise our basketball level beyond being just a 2-team league.

    But if we continue to be a spectator, there may yet be hope for ECU.

  8. wolf88 06/11/2010 at 1:36 PM #

    I think some of this talk is overboard. I can’t see a situation where the ACC is gutted by other conferences. Maryland may go (and probably will). VaTech might go. Maybe UVa. Who’s going to want BC other than the BE and why would BC want into the BE. And I don’t see the SEC adding any ACC schools (although I wouldn’t mind if they took miami); what is the benefit to them? They would just be splitting their profits one more way without adding much of a market. The SEC is more likely to pick up some of the leftover teams from the big 12 which would expand their market. And even if the ACC is reduced to 8 or 9 teams for 2010-11 it wouldn’t collapse.

  9. PacknSack 06/11/2010 at 1:49 PM #

    I am trying not to be polyanna about this, but I cannot conceive of a proposal that would get Carolina or Duke to leave the ACC. In fact, more beleivable is the notion of the other 8 teams getting pilfered/leaving and the four NC schools being left behind.

  10. theghost 06/11/2010 at 1:52 PM #

    no need to worry about the SEC going after the holes – despite what the orange county elite have talked themselves into believing, unc is not on the verge of being a national football power. The SEC isn’t interested in becoming a power in basketball, and they’re even less interested in becoming a power in women’s soccer or pompous asshole-ness – so unc would serve no purpose.

    SEC’s sole motivation is defending their place as the premier football league in the country, so they’d first and foremost rather keep Texas from the PAC-10, but may also come after Miami and fsu, and maybe GT/Va Tech. The less they win the battle for the Big 12 (UT, A&M, OU, etc.), the more I’d expect them to come calling for, probably in order, Miami, fsu, GT, and VT. Some have mentioned UVa, but I don’t see it. I bet they’d be willing to trade South Carolina, but that’d be tough to pull off.

    I’d be delighted for them to take fsu and miami, and for somebody to poach BC too. I could go for a trade – Miami, fsu, and GA Tech for Kentucky, Vandy, and USC. Before you blow up on me, I know this doesn’t make any real sense, it would be disastrous financially, but I don’t really need ACC to be a football powerhouse, I just want to see basketball fixed.

  11. 61Packer 06/11/2010 at 2:00 PM #

    ACC basketball won’t ever be fixed until our league’s best overall group of coaches is again in basketball. We’re a mediocre football league yet our football coaches are better than our overall group of basketball coaches. Until that changes, ACC basketball will continue to be ruled by the Bluebloods.

  12. Sam92 06/11/2010 at 2:36 PM #

    it is a shame to see the ACC in a reactive mode. i think that pretty much means that the ACC is waiting to see if we get raided by the SEC and that then, and only then, after the damage is done, will the conference go poking around looking for garbage to replace the best teams who have left.

  13. Classof89 06/11/2010 at 3:13 PM #

    Anyone who thinks UNC would be the slightest bit interested in joining the SEC really doesn’t understand the history of how the ACC and SEC came to be separately spawned out of the old Southern Conference (which, ironically, was a 16+ school mega conference back in the day).

    My prediction? After these “megaconferences” prove to be a major pain in the ass and nowhere near the money maker their pushers claimed for them, we’ll repeat the cycle of the 1930’s-’50’s where certain groups of schools with like interests spin themselves off into regional, manageable conferences. Wash, rince, repeat…

  14. Lock 06/11/2010 at 3:16 PM #

    Everybody complained back when the ACC went to an 11/12-team conference. Now they complain we’re not getting bigger. I hate the idea of uberconferences but surely I’m too young to be old-fashioned. Regardless, this is being driven by football, right? Football’s fun and all, but the ACC is, as others have astutely mentioned, a basketball conference. The ACC SHOULD be a basketball conference. I don’t care about expansion, so long as basketball doesn’t get watered down any more than it already is. And to even begin imagining that one of the Big Four would leave the ACC? There’s just no way.

    Unless basketball has forever taken a back seat, and I’m that far outta touch. Which is possible.

  15. leewolf 06/11/2010 at 3:48 PM #

    It is simple math folks:

    – Each SEC school makes a payout of roughly $17 million a year from their ESPN TV contract.
    – Each ACC school makes a payout of roughly $12 million a year from the new ESPN TV contract.
    – Keep in mind that the SEC Network is already on TVs in South Carolina, Florida, and Georgia.
    – Adding FSU, Miami, GT, and Clemson means that ESPN would have to be willing to pay the SEC an additional $17 million per year for each of those schools, or roughly a $68 million increase in the per year payout to the SEC just to keep the league at even keel.

    Are the SEC presidents going to be happy with making the same money they were making before but losing some traditional rivalries (especially either UT/Vandy or UGA/GT who would be shifted from the SEC East to the SEC West?). Not likely. They are going to want to make more money which means that ESPN would have to willing to pay upwards of $50-60 million annually more for FSU/Miami/GT/Clemson than they pay for those schools now in the ACC.

    The money doesn’t add up, it isn’t happening.

  16. VaWolf82 06/11/2010 at 4:26 PM #

    IF the money doesn’t add up, it isn’t happening.

    FTFY. There are more possibilities on making money than the ones that you outlined.

  17. choppack1 06/11/2010 at 4:29 PM #

    As I stated on another thread – the ACC’s main goal right now should be keeping the existing schools in here and keeping the SEC happy – namely VaTech, FSU, Miami, Umd, GaTech and Clemson.

    My hope is that Swofford has done his due diligence and done lots of contigency planning. In addition, hopefully he’s talked to the schools most likely to be a target to poll their interest.

    We should avoid expansion unless it’s necessary. Two things could make it necessary – #1 – the worst case scenario is SEC picking off our “Southern flank”. Scenario #2 – SEC expands – but goes after Texas/Oklahoma and A&M. While we wouldn’t have to expand in this case to keep our other good teams – we’d probably need to maintain some credibility in the arms race.

    Regardless of which scenario came to light – our candiates and their rankings should be the same.

    Like I said – I’m not going to go after Swofford for not trying to expand right now if he’s doing what needs to be done to keep our Southern flank happy and if he’s prepared w/ contigencies. The schools out there w/ou the name Notre Dame don’t really carry a whole lot of cred in the college football world. And I don’t see a lot of value to adding Rutgers, Pitt or Syracuse unless we absolutely have to.

  18. choppack1 06/11/2010 at 4:30 PM #

    Oh – one thing if the “Southern flank” really wants expansion – we might have to expand too.

  19. Alpha Wolf 06/11/2010 at 4:48 PM #

    ESPN is saying Texas, TT, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State to the Pac10:

  20. 97 pack alum 06/11/2010 at 4:53 PM #

    leewolf: I guess I’m missing something about your math so please clarify for me. According to your statement, ESPN is paying out 12 million for ACC teams and 17 million for SEC teams. So, isn’t that 5 million more per team? Then moving 4 teams from the ACC to the SEC would cost them 20 million more, not 60 million?

  21. StatePhan4life 06/11/2010 at 5:10 PM #

    I think its foolish to say any school is out of the running for conference affiliation based on academics at this point. If it comes down to survival ( eat before you are eaten ) any school that will help that happen should be looked at.

    Since everyone is afraid of loosing the two Florida schools ( I am not sure I buy into that as UF uses that as a huge recruiting advantage in their eyes ) why not take a look at USF. Then just complete the poach of the BE football school and get Cuse, WV and Pitt.

    Forget academics. These moves are all about $$$$$$$. These presidents are only saying, oh we fit in academically better here, because they can’t possibly say the truth. SHOW ME THE MONEY!!

    Of course I think we will be handcuffed by the Bluebloods and our stance of not looking aggressive. Hell the Pac-10 and the Big-10 are gonna come out better off due to their aggression. Someone tell Swofford its not about if your other conference peers like you, its if the people you are charged with taking care of like the job you do. If the conference dies on his watch ( which I don’t think it will ) He can rest assured the Bluebloods will never claim he did it on their behalf.

  22. leewolf 06/11/2010 at 5:17 PM #

    $5 million more per team, you are right, but in total it is $17 million more for each team just to break even. What is the point for the SEC to expand just to break even though? The Big Ten is going to grow the payouts not only for the schools they are adding but for the schools in their league by vastly increasing the ESPN contract AND adding TVs to the Big Ten Network. The SEC Network (which is part of the SEC’s ESPN deal) is already on TV in SC, GA, and FL, so that extra money isn’t there. And it also assumes that ESPN can renegotiate a deal with the ACC that is $48 million lower than what it was with FSU/Miami/Clemson/GT (under the unlikely assumption we don’t add anyone to replace them).

    And VAWolf, you are correct, it isn’t the only factor but it is a huge factor. My point is that when it boils down to it this is about money and even if Slive is trying to sell to the SEC presidents that they will lose money in the short term but there may be a payout in the long-term (5+ years from now), I just don’t know if they buy that.

    Of course if the rumor is true that TAMU is headed to the SEC, maybe along with Mizzou and who knows the Kansas schools…this is hopefully a moot point.

  23. Wulfpack 06/11/2010 at 7:11 PM #

    I’ve been one to criticize Swofford in the past but I find the current criticism premature and a bit fabricated. Let’s wait and see what really happens in the end. I don’t think the SEC will “raid” our conference. Maybe I am wrong, but I just don’t see it. If that does happen, then we can likely entice a few Big East schools in as replacements. I’m not opposed to that IF we are raided. But to simply go out and try to get 4 more schools to join just for shits and giggles at this stage of the game is premature. This decision to act or not to act must be well thought out. You can’t just make a decision on the whim. The ACC will not be extinct. We’ll be ok. And the league expansion has now proven to be very wise. It’s currently saving our ass.

    And if I had my pick for Big East schools, it would probably go something like WVU, Louisville, Pitt and Cuse.

  24. john of sparta 06/11/2010 at 7:51 PM #

    wish list………
    done and done. everybody plays everybody.
    bus ride to everywhere. Mo money mo money.
    well, if THAT is what it’s all about.
    and…yes, i know, there’s the last
    millennium thing about Roach and USC.

  25. bigwolfpacker 06/11/2010 at 9:41 PM #

    The ACC may be a target of the SEC but I dont see Duke or UNC going anywhere. If they were to look around there is no way the state legislature would let UNC go to another conference without taking NCSU with them.

Leave a Reply