Video: John Swofford Chats With Jeff Fischel on the New, 15-Team ACC

Tons of opinions going around regarding the now-expanded 15-team ACC, but the best source may be conference commissioner John Swofford. ACC Digital Network host Jeff Fischel spent some time with the commissioner today to get his thoughts on today’s additions of Syracuse, Pittsburgh and Notre Dame, the league’s grant of rights, and more…

A few notes:

  • Commissioner Swofford mentions how well all of the ACC’s schools fit together, and I couldn’t agree more. In fact, out of all the realignment additions that have occurred and will occur from 2010 through 2015, these additions seem like the most natural of all. We’ll check back on that concept in a year when Louisville joins and Maryland leaves, but as of right now, tough to look at these additions as anything but a natural extension of the league’s common culture.
  • Swofford doesn’t know where the “ninja” nickname came from. Which is exactly how a ninja would answer that question.
  • Grant of rights, plus the natural expansion mentioned above, equals a pretty strong league. Come 2014, the ACC will be one of maybe two power conferences without an outlier/odd fit (the other being the Pac-12). The SEC, Big Ten and Big 12 all have at least one addition that’s not like the rest, and I’m curious to see the repercussions of that over time.
  • ACC Network coming soon? Still nothing of note here. Worried we’re looking at 2016 at best, which is a shame, considering how well integrated ESPN and the ACC are already.
  • ACC Tournament in New York City is “up to the member schools.” I can count at least five who’d be for it (the five most northern ones), plus the most southern institutions, too. I’d think the North Carolina schools are the only ones truly on the fence, but the prospect of playing in front of so many New York recruits may be too much for Duke and North Carolina to resist.
  • Fischel brought up a short retirement question. I guess it’s not that strange to ask Swofford that question — he’s been doing this for quite some time. Just haven’t really heard it brought up until now. This may be a long way out, but curious if the league leaves the UNC/Duke/Virginia power structure with its next commissioner selection. Something to watch out for.

Anything you found interesting from Swofford’s comments? Bring them up below.

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Rewriting Conference Realignment History

What if the Syracuse Orange Had Joined Rival Boston College in the ACC's First Round of Expansion?

What if Syracuse Had Joined Rival Boston College in the ACC’s First Round of Expansion?

If you’ve checked out today’s daily links, you’ve likely noticed the top story from Syracuse.com, with regard to a little revisionist realignment history. The piece, “Syracuse is About to Join the ACC, But What if SU Had Made the Move 10 Years Ago?” enlists a variety of folks to take a look at what might have been if Syracuse had left the Big East for the ACC along with Boston College and Miami, as originally planned. It’s a very worthwhile read, though I did want to dive a bit deeper into some of the points, and bring up a few points of contention as well. Again, definitely enjoyed the article, but I do think some of the decisions seem to forget the timeline of all these things and the motivations of certain leagues, in particular. Taking a look at their timeline…

Move 1: Boston College, Miami and Syracuse depart Big East for ACC (2004)

No qualms here — obviously this is the decision that gets the ball rolling.

Move 2: Virginia Tech departs Big East for SEC (undetermined)

Unsure when this move takes place, but I’d venture to guess not immediately after the first round of expansion above. The further away from that point in time we get, I’d agree, the more likely this happens. Though I’d also bet that if it hadn’t happened by about 2010 or so, the Hokies end up in the ACC.

Move 3: Texas A&M departs Big 12 for SEC (2010)

This almost happened in real life, and would end up coming to fruition a year later anyway. No surprise here.

Move 4: Missouri departs Big 12 for Big Ten (2010)

… And here’s where I bring up an issue. The dominoes started falling in 2010 when the Big Ten announced they were searching for a 12th member. I’d bet that even in this revised timeline, that’s still the case, meaning they’d get to move first. Their target was always Nebraska, and despite multiple overtures by Missouri, the Big Ten’s continually said no. So I’d probably adjust this to reflect the Huskers heading up to the B1G, instead of the Tigers.

Move 5: Texas and Oklahoma depart Big 12 for Pac-10 (2010)

Here’s another one where I’m at least partially confused. We all remember the first version of “OMG Pac-16!!!” but this hypothetical seems to forget the rest of it. Texas and Oklahoma weren’t going anywhere without Texas Tech and Oklahoma State. And what the hell happens to Colorado here? We never find out. I’m fine with hypotheticals — this is a college football blog after all — but I think the real-life motivations need to be accounted for with these moves. It also ignores the inherent issue the Pac-10/12 has with Texas: the Longhorn Network.

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Restarting College Football From Scratch: Which 120 Schools Would Sponsor Football?

Is Your School One of the 120 Best Equipped to Play College Football?

Is Your School One of the 120 Best Equipped to Play College Football in Today’s Landscape?

Back in March, SB Nation’s Jason Kirk took a look at an interesting question: Where would you place a college football program if you were starting one completely from scratch? The considerations included current program geography, potential fan bases and to some degree, recruiting as well. Using these factors, both Jason and the commenters (myself included) recommended a flurry of current and hypothetical universities, with no clear choice above the rest. As it is the offseason, this is quite the entertaining exercise.

But taking that idea a step further, what if we decided to start the whole thing from scratch? Blow up the current college football landscape — structure, traditions, records, existing programs, etc. — and just completely start fresh. The only hard-and-fast rule? We’re choosing 120 schools, all of which either currently sponsor Division-1 or -II NCAA athletics and/or have an institutional endowment over $1 billion. Additionally, to narrow the consideration pool down a bit, I avoided all schools with less than 5,000 students, since it’s highly unlikely they’d be able to support football from a talent or fan standpoint (at the collegiate game’s highest level anyway).

Using these factors as guides, I built an available pool of 318 schools, and compiled the following information for each:

  • Endowment: In many cases, endowments are a nice measuring stick of a school’s ability to raise money. Since college football programs cost money and need similar fundraising to function, this should certainly come into play when considering a school’s ability to sponsor the sport.
  • Enrollment: It’s not the end-all, be-all of whether you can sponsor football, but fan support usually starts with students. If you don’t even have 7,000 students on campus, how are you supposed to draw more than 20,000 to Saturday’s game?
  • State Recruiting Ranking: This is a big one, because it examines how sustainable football is from a local recruiting level. If you’re a big school, but have no local base, that means you’re utilizing a national strategy. Likewise, if you’re a mid-size school, but exist in a large local base, you still have a significant chance of recruiting success.
  • Public/Private: Obviously, there are more public schools than private schools at the FBS level today, and in our setup, that’ll still be the case. Private schools won’t be eliminated from consideration at all, but if a decision must be made between a private school and public school, the public school will win out. Public institutions have an easier road toward attracting local talent, and in many cases support too, so that was taken into consideration on a few choice occasions.

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Breaking: ACC Set to Announce Grant of Rights Deal Through 2027 (Updated)

The ACC's Grant of Rights Will Lock in All Teams Through 2027... Goodbye, Realignment Talk!

The ACC’s Grant of Rights Will Lock in All Teams Through 2027… Goodbye, Realignment Talk!

So, remember all those times when the ACC was pretty much dead? Well, so much for that…

As reported by ACC Sports Journal’s David Glenn and The Daily Press’s David Teel, it looks like the ACC is set to announce a grant of media rights agreement through 2027. Such a deal would lock in media revenues from broadcast rights through 2027 for all teams except Notre Dame‘s football program. So, if a school wanted to leave for what used to be perceived as a “better” deal with the Big Ten or Big 12, that benefit’s now moot, since that school would surrender 14 years of revenues.

Obviously, fans of the league have been calling for this type of move for some time, as it basically builds a fence around the current membership (similar to what the Big 12 did a couple years back). With such a long deal, too, the ACC suddenly drops to the bottom of any potential expansion list, since no school can afford to give up a decade-and-a-half of revenues. Effectively, with the two most “vulnerable” leagues (ACC and Big 12) locked up for the foreseeable future, the conference realignment circus looks to be dead, at least in terms of the five major conferences.

We’ll be able to provide more information once the announcement is official and we see the agreement’s details in their entirety. It’s a great day for the ACC and all of its members, and in my own opinion, the perfect segue for an ACC Network to get up and running. With media rights locked in for such an extended period of time, there’s less risk and more value than ever before in undertaking such an endeavor.

Thoughts? These are just some of my initial reactions, and would love to discuss it all further with folks in the comments. We’ll also leave you with this image, courtesy of @TheKeyPlay.

UPDATED: CBS notes that payouts per-school will now be at $20 million annually. This is huge, and with the ACC Network still in the wings, suddenly, the conference is looking much more competitive from a revenue standpoint. The grant of rights agreement also removes the previous exit fee (three times the operating budget).

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Conference Realignment: ACC Made the Right Move Picking Louisville Over UConn

After a Sugar Bowl Win and a Men's Basketball Title, Louisville Looks Like a Great Addition to the ACC

After a Sugar Bowl Win & a Men’s Basketball Title, Louisville Looks Like a Great Addition to the ACC

It’s been months since the ACC made the bold move to add Louisville over assumed next-school-in-line, Connecticut. And while things can certainly change over the course of the next few years (and hopefully, decades), we wanted to quickly compare the two schools’ returns across their respective athletic teams during the 2012-13 season. This blog, along with many others, was of the opinion that adding Louisville, a property with tremendous upside that the Big 12 was also interested in pursuing, was a better add than UConn then. And over four months later, we’ll stand by that. A look at the athletic year for these two schools so far:

Louisville Cardinals

Baseball: 25-7 (7-2); currently ranked 11th nationally, 1st in Big East

Men’s Basketball: 34-5; National champs, Big East Tournament & regular season champs

Women’s Basketball: 29-9; National runner-up

Field Hockey: 12-8; third in Big East

Football: 11-2; Sugar Bowl champs, Big East champs

Women’s Lacrosse: 8-4; sixth in Big East

Men’s Soccer: 14-6-1; ranked ninth nationally, Big East Red division champs

Women’s Soccer: 10-4-4; third in Big East National division

Softball: 34-6; currently ranked 11th nationally

Women’s Volleyball: 30-4; ranked 17th nationally, Big East Tournament & regular season champs

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Conference Realignment: Which FCS Programs Could Be Next to Upgrade to the FBS?

Appalachian State Is Headed to the Sun Belt With Georgia Southern; Which FCS Schools Could Be Next to Upgrade?

Appalachian State Is Headed to the Sun Belt Conference Along With Georgia Southern; Which FCS Schools Could Be Next to Upgrade?

Schools are upgrading their football programs at a rapid pace. By 2015, 129 full members will be participating in FBS-level competition, up from 120 in 2012. That’s a 7.5-percent increase in just three years. And yet, there’s still plenty of talk about adding more schools to college football’s top tier too. While the ACC’s not jumping to add any of these schools, it’s not out of the question that this shuffling could eventually affect the sport’s top conferences – as top teams from football’s “mid-majors” look to upgrade their competition and move into the “Power Five.”

First, a recap of the recent moves from FCS to FBS:

2009: Western Kentucky (Sun Belt)

2013: South Alabama (Sun Belt), Texas State (Sun Belt), UT-San Antonio (Conference USA), UMass (MAC)

2014: Georgia State (Sun Belt)

2015: Appalachian State (Sun Belt), Charlotte (Conference USA), Georgia Southern (Sun Belt), Old Dominion (Conference USA) (*Appalachian State and Georgia Southern moves just reported today, via SB Nation)

And there’s still more schools that could potentially make the call. But who are they? Well, first a look at the basic eligibility requirements to move up to FBS from FCS (from the NCAA):

  1. Sponsor a minimum of 16 varsity intercollegiate sports, including football, based on the minimum sports sponsorship and scheduling requirements set forth in Bylaw 20. Sponsorship shall include a minimum six sports involving all male teams or mixed teams (males and females), and a minimum of eight varsity intercollegiate teams involving all female teams. Institutions may use up to two emerging sports to satisfy the required eight varsity intercollegiate sports involving all female teams. [Bylaw 20.9.7.1]

  2. Schedule and play at least 60 percent of its football contests against members of Football Bowl Subdivision. Institutions shall schedule and play at least five regular season home contests against Football Bowl Subdivision opponents. [Bylaw 20.9.7.2]

  3. Average at least 15,000 in actual or paid attendance for all home football contests over a rolling two-year period. [Bylaw 20.9.7.3]

  4. Provide an average of at least 90 percent of the permissible maximum number of overall football grants-in-aid per year over a rolling two-year period. [Bylaw 20.9.7.4-(a)]

  5. Annually offer a minimum of 200 athletics grants-in-aid or expend at least four million dollars on grants-in-aid to student-athletes in athletics programs. [Bylaw 20.9.7.4-(b)]

Obviously, the second bullet is taken care of with the commitment to upgrade the program and the final two can easily be attained by just reaching those scholarship numbers. As far as item no. 1 and no. 3 though, the following schools would qualify for an FCS-to-FBS upgrade:

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Notre Dame Officially Joining ACC on July 1, 2013: But What About The Irish Football Schedule?

Notre Dame's ACC Scheduling Arrangement Doesn't Start Until 2014, But We Took a Quick Look at What the Future Holds Anyway

Notre Dame’s ACC Scheduling Arrangement Doesn’t Start Until 2014, But We Took a Quick Look at What the Future Holds Anyway

The University of Notre Dame is officially ACC-bound (per SI.com) for non-football sports (where applicable) come July 1 of this year. And while the early entry means both sides are passing on the first year of the “five ACC opponents per season” agreement, there’s still plenty left to figure out in terms of Notre Dame’s future. Starting in 2014, they’ll be starting the five-teams-per-year rotation, and as of right now, it seems the Irish and the ACC’s schools all have some reshuffling to do both in the short- and long-term.

Inspired by some initial questions over at Hokie Mark’s ACCFootabllRx, we wanted to take a look at just what needs to change in order for this ACC scheduling rotation to get rolling for 2014. First a look at Notre Dame’s 2014 schedule layout (*note, all schedules based on information from FBSchedules.com):

Current Open Dates: One

Locked Games: Seven (Michigan, Purdue, Syracuse, Stanford, at Navy, Pittsburgh, at USC)

The Rest (Flexible): Four (Rice, at Temple, at Arizona State, Northwestern)

With two ACC teams already on the docket (SU & Pitt), they’ll need to drop two of the four games in the flexible pile. Rice and Temple can be assumed as two of those, and I’d think Arizona State’s would be another possibility, since the Irish already head west once in 2014 when they head to Los Angeles to face USC.

But in trying to fill the three open games, which ACC teams will they have to choose from. A look at each school’s non-conference schedule as currently comprised:

Boston College: at UMass, USC, Army, Rhode Island

Clemson: at Georgia, Coastal Carolina, South Carolina

Duke: at Troy, Kansas, Elon, Tulane

Florida State: Oklahoma State, The Citadel, Florida

Georgia Tech: at Georgia, at Tulane, Wofford

Louisville: Kentucky, at Florida International, at Marshall

Miami: Florida A&M, at Nebraska

NC State: at Central Michigan, at USF, Presbyterian

North Carolina: at East Carolina

Virginia: UCLA, Richmond, at BYU, Kent State

Virginia Tech: William & Mary, East Carolina, at Ohio State, Western Michigan

Wake Forest: at UL-Monroe, Northern Illinois, Army, at Vanderbilt

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