The ACC, conference expansion, and a month of mis-information and confusion.

We seemed to finally have reached a juncture where a deep long breath can be taken with all this expansion business. I wanted to wait until something significant and credible occurred before commenting again, and I think that point has been reached.

The Daily Press of Virginia offers some great thoughts on the ACC following the FSU BOT meetings.

Friday the Orlando Sentinel wrote in their article FSU to Big 12 doused?

“If you think Florida State is moving from the ACC to the Big 12 sometime this summer, school president Eric Barron has a message for you: fat chance. While he may not have used those exact words, they more than adequately sum up his comments to reporters immediately following the university’s board of trustees meeting here Friday morning.”

The new FSU BOT chairman Allan Bense also said

“We just need to be thoughtful. We need to be deliberate. But we need to be ready to act. We need to be very thoughtful and deliberate.”

That’s fair I would say. Florida State and any other university should always keep the best interests of their school as their number one priority.

With conference expansion Barron sums it up best.

“There are a lot of reasons why conference issues are in the news,” Barron added. “More money is one of them. Another one, quite frankly, is sort of a feeding frenzy over this particular topic. It gets a lot of people’s attention, and they have a lot of opinions.”

The key word here is frenzy… This frenzy led to quite a month of May for the the ACC.

On May 7 the Big 12 verbally agrees to their new ESPN/FOX TV Deal for an average of 20 Million per school. On May 9,2012 he Atlantic Coast Conference signed a $3.6 Billion 15 year deal with ESPN for an average of around $17 Million per school. Right after that all heck broke loose and continued for 4 weeks.

It was amazing to see the social media chaos that ensued. Honestly I can’t remember ever seeing anything like this; folks on twitter running with one rumor to the next. Bloggers and twitter accounts were breaking stories daily. Were their sources real? Was their information good? Did they have special insight into complicated television deals? I personally didn’t know. I wanted the ACC to stay together, but I’ll be honest some of this stuff going around sounded pretty convincing. You could virtually create a timeline of rumor and reaction.

The ACC sold all of their third tier rights away! No and I tried to explain this on May 10 in my article A clearer understanding of those “Tier 3” rights and the ACC, but the damage had already been done. Just 2 days later, and this is where things really exploded when FSU BOT Chair Andy Haggard blasted the ACC as reported by Warchant.com. The only problem was that his understanding of the TV deal was also incorrect, but of course it didn’t matter, and as I wrote that day what was relegated to message boards had been given a face.  

Still others said the 17 Million wasn’t so bad until it was reported that the deal was backloaded. This meant it would be years until ACC teams would see the money. This fueled further outrage. On May 15, ESPN was forced to say backloaded deals were industry standard. Nerves were momentarily calmed for a couple of days until the Big 12 and SEC announced their Champions Bowl game.  This was immediately seen as the separation of the 4 Big conferences from everyone else. Even I had to admit the ACC had taken several PR hits here. That’s when I saw the first twitter reports of “Done Deals in principle” with Clemson and FSU to the Big 12. Personally I’d had enough…  At the Big 12 meetings they were saying they wouldn’t expand. They were creating a timeline where it would be shown Clemson and FSU had reached out first is what our pro-move bloggers said.

I began to think of Texas and Oklahoma’s move to the Pac 12 that was reportedly days away last year and that was reported by a credible news sources. It never happened. The Big 12/SEC bowl game was unknown till the day of the announcement. Pittsburgh and Syracuse to the ACC was an absolute secret.

Where were these social media folks on any of these stories? Not anywhere that’s where… None of them knew that Florida State was actually in the black and didn’t have a 2.4 Million deficit until it came out Friday. If you notice in the last month the national media seemed hesitant to run too far with these expansion stories.

Here’s is my ultimate point in all of this… just because a blogger or twitter account says it true doesn’t mean it’s necessarily true. I throw myself in there as a blogger. They are just opinions and people’s guesses of the situation, but they don’t know.

If something is your opinion fine, maybe you even have an actual source, but when you go out on a limb presenting things as facts then be prepared to lose all credibility when it is over if you’re wrong. When I saw some FSU fans questioning particular twitter accounts today that swore a move was imminent, the back tracking began. I won’t give you any of these account or blogger names, because it would give some of these people more undeserved recognition.

Do I think everything this month was non-sense? Certainly not, it’s very apparent that Florida State’s leadership listened to their fans and did some investigation. Clemson may have as well, but that’s not as clear at the moment. The former BOT Chairman for FSU Andy Haggard spoke on inaccurate information, but the Seminole leaders should be commended in the end for being diligent, doing their own internal studies of what’s best for Florida State and arriving at an apparent conclusion to stay in the ACC independent of some blogger out there. I’m pretty sure university administrators are privy to information that not all of us see when making these decisions.

As for the future of the ACC… this should serve as a wakeup call. I certainly believe there was some discussion at not only Clemson and FSU, but several universities looking at the landscape of things. The conference needs to be pro-active promoting the football end of the conference and that includes being a strong voice in the upcoming playoff meetings.

In addition the teams need to simply get better. I am hopeful the ACC’s version of their big bowl will be announced soon as well.

I have alot of thoughts on where the ACC can help itself going forward, but that will be in later entry.

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