How John Swofford guided the ACC through the realignment era.


Now that the ACC is one of the premier conferences in the country, with the nation’s top basketball league and a high quality football conference I’m getting a little nostalgic. I looked back recently to 4-5 years ago when the ACC was an afterthought nationally in football and struggling as a whole. Last week we remembered an article that CBS Sportsline’s Dennis Dodd wrote a few years ago about how the ACC was dead.  

The Daily Progress has a piece from Jerry Ratcliffe titled “Swofford helped enhance the ACC through turbulent stretch of conference realignment” that describes how ACC Commissioner John Swofford navigated the ACC through those tough times. Here’s excerpt from the article…

It was obvious what the Big Ten, SEC, and Pac-12 were doing. No one was quite sure about the ACC and Big 12.

“If John Swofford doesn’t make those moves and get the right people behind it, then the ACC becomes the Big 12,” Barnhart said. “The Big 12 can’t pull the trigger now because there are no teams out there that’s going to help their league.”

I think Swofford had some mis-steps along the way. He lack the vision of a Jim Delaney regarding starting an ACC Network years ago. He focused too much on the Florida football teams in the mid 2000s by having the ACC Championship games in Florida for several years. Geographically too far from most the ACC, those ACC Title games were poorly attended and hurt the ACC brand across the country. You could argue he was asleep at the wheel, when the Big 12 and SEC formed their Champions Bowl. That left the ACC outside of the Pac 12, Big 10, SEC, and Big 12 looking for a major bowl contract for a time.

It’s not how you start, but how you finish though and you have to give Swofford credit. The ACC is positioned better for the future than just about anytime in recent history. The conference is stable and excelling several sports. The ACC Network is coming, and the ACC GOR has been extended another 20 years. Fears of being poached by another conference are virtually non-existent.

John Swofford played a large role in securing the ACC’s future.

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