The Latest News From FSU Only Underlines The Disaster That Is John Swofford

Seems that this time there really is fire beneath the smoke coming from blogs and message boards: Florida State is not happy with its current situation in the Atlantic Coast Conference, something that had been rumored for years.  Even worse, there is some very real sentiment in Tallahassee to leave the ACC – possibly making FSU the first school to depart  in over 41 years.  By no means do the Seminoles have one foot out the door — not yet anyway — but the simple fact that there is any serious discussion of it happening can only mean one thing: there are real problems and there is real discontent with the state of things in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

The real question that no one in the mainstream media seem to want to raise in this latest college sports soap opera is this: doesn’t this rumbling also make the ground beneath John Swofford’s feet lot shakier too?  Is he not the leader of the conference?  Is he not the man who has led the ACC for some time, and has led the ACC to a place where a blue-chip name like Florida State (and presumably others too) are at least entertaining the idea of finding a new league to call home?

Swofford’s decisions of late have been a cornucopia of headscratchers:   his new and better deal with ESPN has left the ACC playing second-fiddle to the SEC in terms of national television exposure via the four-letter network.  Sure the ACC has a lot of games across the scattered platforms ESPN offers, etc., but the truth is that the SEC has a better product right now, and given that the ACC and the SEC share a place on the same spots on the dial, it’s a no-brainer that ESPN will give its best timeslots on its flagship channel to the SEC.  The ACC, well, it can count on a lot of its games being shown on the second-rate ESPN-U or online only through its Internet feeds.

The timing of that decision is somewhat curious too: Fox Sports is about to launch a national sports network to compete with ESPN, and CBS and NBC have already re-purposed some of the cable properties to do the same.  Fox in particular will be very hungry for college sports programming, and the ACC would have been an extremely attractive property for them.  CBS and NBC certainly wouldn’t have minded having the ACC either, and it’s not like those two companies are third-tier part-time broadcast networks either.

One has to wonder: did Swofford and company leave lots of money laying on the table by extending the ACC’s role as second fiddle on ESPN?  Seems like FSU might think so.  If so, they’re right to do so.

Swofford  done damage elsewhere too: is he not the man whose tenure has seen the death of one of the ACC’s best college hoops traditions, namely the home-and-home round-robin where everyone played everyone else at home and one the road?  With this new and improved deal with ESPN our conference schedule will be part decided by ESPN.  That’s a real fair way to settle who the best regular season team is — by having Dick Vitale’s boss decide what matchups can get better ratings because some teams are more popular and than others.

Then there’s the deafening silence from the top about the conference’s officiating — and thus its competitive integrity — called into question in the national media on more than one occasion.  The ACC has gotten a reputation where its top two perennial hoops powers will get more than the benefit of the doubt from the referees, and it’s not one propped up by lunatics on message boards.  Instead, this is a perception that thoughtful sports columnists who have no dog in the fight in the games themselves have started to foster.  There’s something rotten in Denmark, and instead of getting in front of the problem of a declining reputation, Swofford has said and done…nothing.

Then there is the whole conference expansion issue: while other conferences are adding large schools with huge fanbases, we’re adding television markets to the ACC.  That might seem to be a smart thing to do, but the problem with many of the TV markets added is that they markets dominated by pro sports teams.  Really, how many days a year does Boston College make more noise in the Bay State than the Red Sox, the Patriots, the Celtics or the Bruins?  How many days a year will Syracuse football get more play in New York City than the post-season efforts of the Yankees or the latest Rex Ryan diatribe after the Jets are pummeled by the Eagles?  In Pittsburgh, things are a little bit better, but make no mistake, it’s a Steelers and a Penguins town first and foremost.

Thinking it through, it’s easy to see why FSU might be looking around.  The ACC has a leadership deficit and that leadership might well be leading the stories league towards relative irrelevancy.   So let’s call it what it is: by most any measure, unless you are UNC and Duke, Swofford has been a disaster for the ACC.  He’s killing  its hoops tradition.  He’s expanded conference membership to benefit football in questionable markets with second-tier teams all for a title game that has largely been sparsely attended because its sites were poorly chosen.  He’s made financial decisions that leave important schools like FSU thinking it can get a better deal with the Big XII, which to me is C-USA version 2.0.

If anything, FSU should demand a new commissioner not so obviously aligned with one of the other member institutions.  And oh yeah, competent besides.  Otherwise, they’re wise to take a look around.  And back here at home, it may be a good idea for NC State to also start looking at its own options.  At the very least, one of those options should be a new leader in the ACC.

ACC ACC & Other ACC Teams Athletics Directors

30 Responses to The Latest News From FSU Only Underlines The Disaster That Is John Swofford

  1. MISTA WOLF 05/14/2012 at 10:54 AM #

    Amen Alpha. It does seem to me that instead of trying to better ourselves as a conference that instead we are just settling. F that.

  2. old13 05/14/2012 at 10:59 AM #

    Swoffart = Foulup!

  3. timberwolf 05/14/2012 at 11:09 AM #

    And FSU (as well Clemson, NCSU, GT…) should be outraged over the most recent double standard phantom class crap. Really? Nothing to see here? Not even a good ol’ firm talking to? Horseshit.

  4. golf76 05/14/2012 at 11:10 AM #

    The ACC needs an independent commissioner. Someone who isn’t a graduate of one of the schools in the conference. It was sickening to me how Swofford showed up for the NCAA review of UNC football, but didn’t bother to show up for GA Tech, Florida State, or any others that have been under review. If you show of for one, you should be there to support all, or don’t show up for any.

  5. 61Packer 05/14/2012 at 11:12 AM #

    From both a fan and business standpoint, any Comish who doesn’t fight to maintain the league’s best longstanding rivalries should be fired, period. And that’s not just for hoops, either.

    If FSU bolts, then what? Will we ACC football fans finally get what we’ve REALLY wanted for so long, ESPN Friday night games in Piscataway, Storrs or Tampa instead of those boring FSU games?

    Bring on the next round of expansion!! Pirates fans, don’t give up hope just yet. You still might get into the All Callers Considered Conference!

  6. ncsu1987 05/14/2012 at 11:24 AM #

    I agree that the timing of the new multi-year deal with ESPN is, uh, interesting to say the least. Part of the problem, these days, is the unwillingness to occasionally dispense with the political niceties, step outside the language of diplomacy, and call somebody out for the BS. ‘Twould be really nice for Mr. Barron to just step up to the microphone and say, unequivocally, “Swofford has completely neutered the league for anyone not in the blue club, and either he goes, or we go.” Pure fantasy, I know…..

  7. patientwuf 05/14/2012 at 11:26 AM #

    Great Stuff Alpha

    Still not sure what the ACC partners are waiting on. We should be talking about Swofford’s replacement at this point.

  8. IMFletcherWolf 05/14/2012 at 11:31 AM #

    Maybe the ACC could have negotiated a better deal if FSU football was who we thought they were. Translation: Seminole football in the 2000’s has sucked in comparison to Seminole football from the 90’s. FSU and Clemson are supposed to be the conference’s football leaders, but they have been massive underachievers recently and this is a large reason why our deal was not as good as some wanted. Tallahassee needs to look in the mirror.

  9. packof81 05/14/2012 at 12:03 PM #

    The ACC should change it’s name to the Carolina Duke conference and be done with it. Who can blame FSU for wanting out? Heck, I want NC State out. Let the crooks have it.

    Has anything gotten better while Swofford has been at the helm?

  10. Warrior4NCSU 05/14/2012 at 12:06 PM #

    Nice article on Russell Wilson. Looks like he is getting it done already.

  11. packof81 05/14/2012 at 12:06 PM #

    “With this new and improved deal with ESPN our conference schedule will be part decided by ESPN. That’s a real fair way to settle who the best regular season team is — by having Dick Vitale’s boss decide what matchups can get better ratings because some teams are more popular and than others.”

    Remember Dick Vitale’s boss is John Skipper, a UNC grad.

  12. wilmwolf80 05/14/2012 at 12:20 PM #

    As rotten as this conference has become, I don’t believe that FSU, or NCSU for that matter should leave. I think that member institutions should get together and vote to kick out UNCCH and Duke. To me that is a much better option.

  13. Lunatic Fringe 05/14/2012 at 12:21 PM #

    packof81 – you beat me to it. UNC Grad Skipper was name president in Nov 2011.

  14. statered 05/14/2012 at 12:23 PM #

    The good old boy network can only take you so far before one’s incompetence shines through. Swoff has gone beyond where the network can take you. Even his ESPN buddy can’t bail him out now.

  15. Prowling Woofie 05/14/2012 at 12:33 PM #

    Don’t forget Swoffy’s smack down of the FSU women’s soccer team’s minor issue and his silence over the UNC Nuclear Meltdown. Pretty sure that hasn’t exactly come off as fair and unbiased in Tallahassee…

  16. vtpackfan 05/14/2012 at 12:53 PM #

    If we would just charter a new league and be innovators, things could be run right. Right off the top of my head, three schools from ACC-Maryland, GT, and us. ND and two east coast service academies (sorry Coast Guard). Three from Big East-Cincy, Louisville, and maybe UCONN, and three up and comers who have shown they’ll pony up and play in limelight- lets say UCF,Memphis and VCU. That’s already about 9 strong BBall teams if GT can fix their mess and a Football group that has some upside (eventually UCF should get there, Cincy and Louisville have shown potential, and service academies would receive a boost), with ND setting the bar. Bottom line is that its pigskin couldn’t be worse then the ACC.

  17. Plz2BStateFan 05/14/2012 at 12:56 PM #


    The only thing I really question is not waiting for the potential competitive bid from Fox on the new TV contracts. And I dislike how long this contract is. Its such a long ways away it has the potential to damage either party because so much can happen between now and the end of the contract.

    I dont see what everyones problem is with the current round of expansion. It seemed most everyone liked it when it happened because it stopped the fear mongering that the ACC was about to get raided by the SEC. The ACC would never have taken anyone from the SEC, B1G, etc etc. Texas was a pipe dream. ND wont pull the trigger. WVU, Rutgers, and Louisville all have their problems.

    I honestly think this current round of expansion happened about as well as it could have considering the ACC’s (less than ideal) position. I do not think there were many, if any, better options who were ACTUALLY interested in coming to the ACC. Penn State. Please.

    The only big get for the ACC might be ND if they ever decide to join a conference. Everything else is about the same as what we are getting from Syr and Pitt.

    And if you want to argue the first round of expansion thats fine. But when the ACC took VT and Miami, everything thought that was HUGE. BC. Ok, BC is hot garbage now. Only thing holding up BC was TOB’s program. And we might not have him if it didnt happen like it did. But do we really need to argue that far back?

    Now, the ACC officiating thing, I pretty much agree with this articles view point.

  18. packplantpath 05/14/2012 at 1:39 PM #

    You can’t lament the death of round robin while complaining that tv payouts are too low. If you think this deal is bad, imagine it in a pre-expansion ACC.

    Losing round robin ball sucks, but it was pretty much mandatory in the expansion age.

  19. cotten 05/14/2012 at 1:49 PM #

    the ACC conference Presidents should issue a vote of “No Confidence” in Swoffy’s leadership.

  20. state73 05/14/2012 at 2:03 PM #

    Swofford is just like the “flagship”, a total and useless joke!

  21. 61Packer 05/14/2012 at 2:57 PM #

    There is NO team I want in the ACC if it comes at the expense of the UNC-NCSU hoops rivalry.

    Expansion sucks. South Carolina left in 1971, and that’s when Virginia Tech should’ve been added and the door bolted. Georgia Tech worked ok for awhile, but as the SEC grew in football stature, ACC officials were determined to make inroads into the South, so here come the Seminoles in ’91. They promptly stomped the rest of our teams for a decade before Bowden got old and the law of averages (and the NCAA) caught up with them. It also brought in the Les Robinson Invitational, soon to be the 5-day marathon that’ll conclude the ACC basketball season.

    Then, we decided we needed Miami football, but the FSU-Miami dominance hasn’t panned out because neither has a coach capable of winning the ACC, let alone capable of bigger things. Beamer won’t be at VT forever, and then what? Syracuse and Pitt could end up dominating this league in football.

    Thank You, John. Now, please bring Notre Dame and Texas into the ACC. I know you can do it! With the Longhorn Network and NBC, who’ll care about ESPN? After all, it’s all about money, right? I can’t wait for $100 game tickets for Syracuse football.

  22. baxter 05/14/2012 at 2:58 PM #

    Sorry, maybe FSU shouldn’t have bombed through out the 2000’s in relation to their previous dominance. Then we’d have more command of better TV deals. Sorry, the ACC is led by 4 teams that have completely melted down on the big stage (FSU, Clemson, VT, and Miami)

  23. packof81 05/14/2012 at 3:04 PM #

    This is off topic but … The Orange County DA wants the SBI to investigate the academic fraud scandal at UNC.

    There probably won’t be a peep out of John Swofford about this.

  24. packalum44 05/14/2012 at 4:03 PM #

    Not insightful to blame FSU for the shitty deal. Not true at all. And even for those who wrongly believe that, go a step further. Say you’re right. Then from FSU’s perspective, if I am the lone school who brings in an extra couple millions per school, then why the hell would I want to share that?!

    One school does not make a conference. Our deal is based on quantitative things guys. It is not hard to look at TV ratings for each team and average that out and project revenue and value. Its called finance!!

    You think a deal this size was based on intuition and banter? No silly, it is based on discounted cash flows done by NYC investment bankers that went to Ivy League schools.

    I’m not saying Swofford isn’t naked. That was proven long ago when the tide went out.

  25. Pack78 05/14/2012 at 4:10 PM #

    Swoffy also lost the Gator Bowl tie-in due to his adherence to the ‘BC Rule’ on league records v. bowl choice-this clown should be gone yesterday…

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