ACC Football Kickoff 2013: Top 10 Storylines

What Are the Main Storylines We'll See at This Year's ACC Football Kickoff?

What Are the Main Storylines We’ll See Brought Up at This Year’s ACC Football Kickoff?

Can you believe we’re actually within shouting distance of football season once again? North American sports’ longest offseason is nearly over! We know this because media days are popping up all over the place, most notably (for our purposes here), the ACC Football Kickoff in Greensboro, N.C., starting this Sunday, July 21 and going on through Monday, July 22. Sadly, I will not be there in-person.

We’ve already see the list of student-athlete attendees, but that’s not the only focus — far from it. Below, I’ve compiled a list of the top 10 talking points we’re likely to see addressed at the two-day event. Some topics (see: the top few items) will be the overarching theme for all in attendance, while others will simply be underlying points of conversation everyone wants to try desperately to escape from. Without further ado, your guide to the 2013 ACC Football Kickoff:

1. Say Hi to the New Guys: Syracuse and Pittsburgh (plus non-football member Notre Dame) got a very warm welcome to the ACC on the weekend prior to July 1, hanging around New York City with mascots and such. But the festivities included very little talk of football, so you’ll be hearing plenty about the Orange and Panthers now instead. Expect questions about the adjustments the teams will need to make coming from the Big East, road trips they’re most looking forward to and plenty on whether they expect to compete right away. Also curious about the local media turnout from both areas, plus with no dedicated ACC beat writer (especially for football), will the New York Times be attending?

2. Six-Year Bowl Cycle: I wrote up a pretty extensive breakdown of the bowl agreements the ACC announced yesterday over at Troy Nunes is an Absolute Magician, so for full details I’d recommend going there. But with a drastically improved bowl lineup, this will be a hot topic. People will also want to know how some of the alternating bowls will work, specifically the Gator/Music City setup, and I’d love to hear that response myself.

3. Grant of Rights: The amount of “Ninja Swofford” references during the two days may reached the hundreds. And why shouldn’t it? Without commissioner John Swofford’s typical backdoor dealing, the mood around the weekend is very, very different. Instead, it’s a pretty jovial occasion, which also leads to another topic that’s been on everyone’s minds ever since said grant of rights announcement was made…

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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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ACC Football Chat: Coach Speak, “Respect,” and Increased Cooperation Between ACC & Its Members

Last Week, Jimbo Fisher Tried to Dispel the Myth of ACC Inferiority -- But Was it All Coach Speak?

Last Week, Jimbo Fisher Tried to Dispel the Myth of ACC Inferiority — But Was it All Coach Speak?

Last week around the ACC, the buzz was all about respect and a new sense of cooperation between the league and its members (specifically the football schools). Jumping off from these ideas, Hokie Mark and I chatted about what it all means, and what these ideas may develop into over the coming years. Check out the conversation below:

Mark: Earlier this off-season, Bob Stoops of Oklahoma made sports news with his statement to the effect that SEC football superiority is largely “propaganda.” Now Florida State‘s Jimbo Fisher has come out and said that the ACC is not far behind the SEC and that “perception is a huge part of it.” Is this just coach speak, or are OU, FSU and others in the ACC really close enough to dethrone the SEC?

John: College football coaches are, to a point, politicians, in that they’ll say whatever needs to be said to stay in the good graces of their fans/constituents. Stoops also said in the last month that the BCS was terrible after what happened to his team last year — ignoring all the times his team benefited from that same flawed system. Point is, he’ll say whatever’s necessary to make it appear like it’s not his fault that his team has fallen short of expectations. Fisher is in a similar boat, but has also just come off a season in which the ‘Noles largely met preseason expectations (ACC title, Orange Bowl). Both do have a point, however.

The college football season is largely shaped by the preseason polls, and whether or not a team appears in them regularly determines whether they’re in the title conversation at the end of it. So the bias toward the SEC has actually created a situation where the league gets off to a running start against the competition. That’s not to say the top teams in the SEC aren’t better than the top teams in other conferences (they are, for the most part), but they do get a slight leg-up on the perception front, which is half the battle in college football.

What about you, though? Obviously your team’s been in the national title conversation more often than mine has over the past decade, so how does it feel being discounted when you’re near the top of the polls?

Mark: Not at all, John. I’m one of those guys who thrives on not getting respect — it makes me want to prove it. And I think for the most part the Virginia Tech football team is the same; when they are disrespected, that’s when they are most dangerous. I know the Key Play has “Beat Bama” t-Shirts for sale, and Hokies everywhere seem to be running with the #BeatBama hash tag. So even though we are prohibitive underdogs, I’m quietly optimistic that Beamer & Co. will have “a little something” for Alabama.

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“From Swofford to Delany”: A Romantic Comedy

Yesterday, the Washington Post had a feature on the professional rivalry between ACC commissioner John Swofford and Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany, dating back to when the two attended North Carolina together. Obviously, this lent itself to one entertaining (and completely fictional) romantic comedy idea. Do with this preview what you will…


Trailer starts with a panoramic view of Chapel Hill, and this song rising up:


Voice-over announcer: “Jim Delany was a star point guard, living in the moment.”

“John Swofford was a Southern academic… and a football player.”


“But despite their differences, they both shared a common bond; one they’d battle over for the next 40 years…”

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Conference Realignment: ACC Favoring UConn or Louisville as Replacement for Maryland

Louisville’s Making its Pitch to the ACC, But Will the League Take the Cardinals, or Opt With UConn?

For the first time in the past decade’s realignment carousel, commissioner John Swofford and the ACC will be making a reactionary move. After Maryland‘s defection over to the Big Ten today, the ACC is faced with replacing one of its founding members, while catering to the differing needs of the conference as a whole, and both new and old members of the league.

If the only goal is to simply replace Maryland with another school, then the clear-cut choice would be Connecticut. Providing another team in the general northeast area, the Huskies already have rivalries with Syracuse and Pittsburgh, plus an easy new one with regional foe Boston College. But there’s so much more to consider as realignment takes a turn. Up until this point the number-one rule of realignment was John Swofford always wins. Now that this has been proven patently false, the league must quickly adjust, not only to add replace the Terps, but to keep the rest of its members in place as well. And that’s no easy task, considering the league’s pipeline for new members has virtually dwindled to four.

According to CBS Sports, the ACC is having conversations about adding a replacement school already, and plan to act quickly. The candidates should not surprise anyone: Connecticut, Louisville, USF and Cincinnati, with the former two being the frontrunners. For UConn, the draws are an easy cultural and academic fit, well-rounded athletics outside of football and a close proximity to ESPN’s Bristol, Conn. campus. Louisville, while lagging behind on the academic front, has made a huge investment in athletics over the past 10 years and has strong football and basketball brands. The Louisville area also appears to be a growing market, and could potentially be an assist when it comes to television negotiations.

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ACC Media Days 2012: Top 10 Storylines

We Give a Rundown of the Top 10 Topics You’ll Be Hearing About at ACC Media Days, Which Start This Sunday

It’s nearly football season. Or at least I keep telling myself as much. But it’s getting even closer with ACC Media Days starting this Sunday, July 22. While I’ll be down in North Carolina myself next week, it sadly won’t be for the event. Nonetheless, I’ll be paying a visit to Chapel Hill and hopefully engaging in some lively banter with locals about BBQ and the upcoming football season.

Below, I’ve compiled a list of the top 10 talking points we’re likely to see addressed at media days. Some topics (like the top item), commissioner John Swofford and the coaches will have plenty to say about. While others, like the ongoing institutional issues at two universities in particular, will be pushed aside in a valiant attempt to forget about them for two days. Without further ado, your guide to ACC Media Days 2012:

1. Syracuse & Pittsburgh Joining in 2013: After both schools announced separate $7.5M settlements for early exits from the Big East, there’s finally a date attached to their arrival. And while there won’t be any representatives from either institution at the event, there’s bound to be a ton of questions. With the 14-team model now ready to go for next season, we’ll hear all about the new scheduling conventions, permanent rivals, and overall feelings about traveling up to New York and Pittsburgh (odds are no one beyond Boston College is that thrilled). All of this will be framed within the “new era of the ACC” narrative, and everyone will be told how much bigger, better and different things will be.

2. Where are Discussions With Notre Dame at?: This will be a hot topic amongst media attendees, even if Swofford will likely try and pretend there’s nothing going on whatsoever. The league offices have admitted to conversations about the Orange Bowl (we’ll get to that). But what about expansion? If those conversations have started at all, no one’s saying, and rightfully so. As we’ve seen during the last two rounds of expansion, Swofford pulls off deals like this in the dead of night. If something happens, everyone but his secretary will be surprised when it’s announced. Continue reading

Breaking News: ACC and Orange Bowl Reach 12-Year Agreement

12-Year Agreement Looks Like Good News for the ACC

The Discover Orange Bowl will be played annually on New Year’s Day at 1 p.m. ET, and will feature the ACC champion. The agreement is set to begin in 2014, the same year as the new playoff system. If the ACC champion is selected to play in the 4 team playoff, then a replacement ACC team will compete instead.

The ACC champ has played in the Orange Bowl every year since 2006, so this may not seem like much of a story, but believe it, it is. The ACC joins the other major conferences with a tie-in with a major “BCS” bowl. The Orange Bowl has seen some lackluster matchups in recent years, but is still one of the premier bowl destinations. If you also consider that the Orange Bowl anticipates it will be one of the alternating playoff destinations, then this partnership looks even better for the ACC.

“The Discover Orange Bowl has a rich history of prestige, is located within the league’s footprint and is a great destination for our student-athletes, alumni and fans. In addition to our continued partnership, we are very pleased to be playing annually on New Year’s Day” said ACC Commissioner John Swofford. Translation: tune in and see us in prime time, at the same time, every year, just like the big boy conferences.  Undoubtedly, more news and analysis will come on this partnership; but for now this looks like a nice move by the ACC.