Monday it was announced the ACC’s 15 future schools had signed a Grant of Rights. This effectively ends any further discussion of an ACC team leaving for the duration of the ACC’s television contract that runs through 2027. You can find the official announcement at theACC.com. For me as a fan of Georgia Tech and Clemson, I’ve long felt a viable ACC was the best location for both teams future success. Not to mention, I’m within a 6 hour drive of most any of their games and any ACC Championships events I wanted to attend. Needless to say, I’m very pleased by today’s announcement.
While I never thought the ACC was in any imminent danger, I have maintained the ACC had to be pro-active. They had to quiet things in Tallahassee after a FSU BOT member misunderstood the TV contract, but still created a firestorm of bad press. They did. They had to make sure they had to equal access to the college football playoffs. They did. They had to ensure Notre Dame, college athletics biggest remaining free agent, didn’t end up in another conference…. They did. There was the one setback with Maryland leaving, so the ACC was left needing to make a swift and bold addition.
They did by adding the Louisville Cardinals flourishing athletics department. In addition after the Terrapins announced departure, the conference needed to keep anyone else from leaving in the short term. They did that too. Finally the ACC had to ensure it’s future. I’ve been adamant if you read the blog, that the ACC needed to work towards additional revenue sources. The ACC Digital Network is one venture in that direction, the other is an ACC Network, and they are likely in combination.
For the ACC to start network they needed ESPN’s support. If you are ESPN are you willing to invest in a conference without some assurances that the conference is stable? If you are school with the opportunity to move wouldn’t you want some assurances a significant revenue source is on the horizon? I believe today’s announcement virtually assures that an ACC Network will happen. For that you have to give ACC commissioner John Swofford commissioner credit.
Swofford and the ACC have made some questionable decisions in the past. Putting the ACCCG in Florida was a bad idea. The lack of foresight to start an ACC network and failing to see market trends a few years ago undervalued the ACC. There are those that will say too much emphasis was placed on basketball, though I don’t necessarily agree with that as the Miami and Virginia Tech additions were purely football in nature. Some critics said adding Pittsburgh and Syracuse were to enhance basketball only and questioned why West Virginia wasn’t invited. With that said it’s not how you start, it is how you finish.
Of course the work is not done. The ACC Network needs to be finalized. As I said, I believe this is merely a formality now. Failure to have an ACC Network would be a colossal failure at this point and I do not see that happening.
The ACC has provided it’s teams the stability and potential increased TV revenue (possibly increased to $20 Million) as reported by CBS Sportsline, that the opportunity is there to improve the conference’s football product. This is what the ACC cannot completely control. It’s up to the individual schools to improve themselves athletically. Results on the field in particular football must improve. The ACC should not be going 3 straight years without a Final 4 either. The ACC will need to continue to investigate and research additional revenue sources even beyond the ACC Television Network.
In the end, John Swofford has successfully navigated the ACC through the potholes of realignment, maybe even surviving some of how his own mis-steps, some bad luck, and an under-performing football product. The announcement came out of no where, shocking and stunning many with proclaimed insider sources across college athletics.
I guess that’s why they call him the ninja commissioner.