The ACC's annual spring meetings get underway today at Amelia Island, Fla., and this year's gathering looks to be a more focused, business-like affair than last year's, when speculation was rampant about the possibility that Florida State might bolt the conference for the Big 12.
A lot of water has passed under the bridge since then. Maryland is out, Louisville and Notre Dame are in, Pittsburgh and Syracuse are officially on board, a new TV deal is in place, and college football has taken its first step toward a meaningful college football playoff.
ACC officials will be working out some of the details related to all those changes this week, including discussions about the possibility of an ACC Network similar to the one just announced by the SEC, a revamped bowl lineup necessitated, in part, by the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl's inclusion in the new playoff structure, and the possibility that high-profile ACC events could be held overseas in an effort to expand and enhance the conference's brand.
In a lengthy interview last week with ACC commissioner John Swofford, Hampton Roads, Va. Daily Press senior writer David Teel explored many of the issues facing the ACC.
Following are some excerpts from what Swofford had to say:
About the possibility of an ACC TV network:
“Without the grant of rights, I think the channel was a real longshot...What we will do is continue our analysis that had already started and continue our discussions with ESPN, because anything we do will be with ESPN as our partner. It’s something we’re very interested in and something that needs to make sense as a viable business venture for both ESPN and the ACC...
“We’ve been looking at it for about a year, and now we’ll look at it more seriously. The demographics coupled with the grant of rights is really helpful in looking ahead to the future and how well that positions us, because we’ll have more top-30 markets than any other conference in the country."
On international exposure for the ACC:
“I think we need to think big, and I think we need to think aggressively, and a part of that may be playing a football game a year overseas and a basketball game or two. The NBA and NFL have both had good results with that. Basketball’s an international sport. Football isn’t, but Great Britain seems to be embracing it to a degree.
“All have our schools have international satellite campuses and international students. As the world continues to evolve, I think it could be something very positive for our league and its branding, and most importantly for our institutions and for some of our student-athletes that may have the opportunity to do that...
“Notre Dame played Navy in Dublin...I talked to (ND AD) Jack Swarbrick about it, and he said it was just outstanding.”
On future bowl alignments:
“Even with the Chick-fil-A Bowl not being a guaranteed stop, I think our lineup will be enhanced. And hopefully we’ll be in Atlanta periodically with teams in the football playoff mix. We sort of look at Atlanta as being part of the potential mix for our teams. Certainly Notre Dame in that mix below the playoff is meaningful...
“We’re pretty much on a parallel course with the other conferences, because to tie these things down, there are three parties with each one: who we would be playing as well as the bowl itself...
“We may pool bowls and have a little more freedom in putting together matchups that make the most sense for schools and fans and the bowls themselves, to avoid teams going back to the same place in consecutive years, or playing the same (opponents) in consecutive years. So we’re looking at some things that could add a little more flexibility."
Here is the link for the entire interview: