ACC needs an expansion plan–right now

Bear Bryant used to end his Sunday night television show with these words: “Don’t forget to call your Mama. I wish I could call mine.” I was lucky to be with my Mama on Sunday in Madison, Ga. Hope you had a great Mother’s Day as well.

The ACC Spring Meetings begin today at the lovely beach-front Ritz-Carlton Hotel at Amelia Island. Think the Big Ten’s possible expansion plans will come up? Yes it will because there are some athletics directors who are going to sit in the day’s first meeting with commissioner John Swofford and want to know three things: 1) What do we expect the Big Ten to do? 2) How do we expect the SEC to react?  3) What is our plan if No. 1 and No. 2 both happen?

 It wasn’t that long ago that the ACC was expanding and dipping into the Big East for three teams (Miami, Boston College, Virginia Tech). The ACC was the aggressor in an effort to expand to 12 teams and bulk up its status as major player in football.

It hasn’t been a failure as some detractors would suggest, but neither has it been the rousing success that the football forces in the ACC had hoped. Florida State and Miami, which were placed in separate divisions to maximize their punch, are still struggling to get back on the national stage.  The conference championship game has been a mixed bag, depending on the matchup. The ACC remains the only conference of the Big Six not to place two teams in BCS bowls in the same season. The landscape of college football has changed dramatically since the ACC last expanded.

The ACC did get a good initial TV contract from expansion but that contract ends after the 2010-2011 season. The ACC is in the midst of its negotiation for a new football deal and the numbers that are being offered, I’ve been told, are not particularly good given the marketplace, where the economy is down and the Big Ten and SEC are sucking up about 50 percent of the available dollars. Don’t be surprised if the ACC brings on another TV partner, like Fox or the NFL Network, hoping to generate more revenue.

The fact is that the ACC is as vulnerable right now as the Big East was back in 2003. Here’s why:

 If the Big Ten expands to 16 teams the SEC may feel the need to follow suit. The SEC could look to the ACC and take some teams (like Florida State) to solidify its Southern footprint.

Here is another item that should concern you as an ACC fan. My buddy Blair Kerkoff of the Kansas City Star reports that the Pac-10 and Big 12 are having discussions about the possibility of forming an alliance and negotiating their TV deals as one unit. Together they would have more clout (and more television sets) than individually.

Here are the facts, folks, and I hope my friends in the ACC are reading this down in Amelia Island. If the Big Ten goes to 16 teams, the Big East is going to be out of the football business. The SEC and the Big Ten dominate the marketplace. They will get their money while the Pac-10, Big 12, and ACC are going to be scrambling for what’s left.

 If those three conferences don’t already have contingency plans in place, they had better put them together—and fast. I know that Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany has said  his expansion plans are still in a 12-18 month window. I don’t believe that and there are some very smart people who work in this business who don’t believe it either.

 Because once the Big Ten makes its move, this thing is going to move very quickly. It’s going to be like a high-stakes game of musical chairs and somebody may get left without a quality seat, financially speaking, at the college football’s Big Boy table. And that could be our friends at the ACC.

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416 comments Add your comment

The Real SugarHillDawg

May 10th, 2010
8:46 am

Any plan on how they plan to be relevant again??

kaput

May 10th, 2010
8:49 am

If, for argument’s sake, the SEC takes four from the ACC, then which teams are most likely to move from the Big East to the ACC? Or are we talking about a different set of schools altogether?

What’s your best guess, Tony?

5IML

May 10th, 2010
8:51 am

If all these expansion scenarios come to pass, what are the ACC’s options? Hopefully, the Big Ten will not expand to 16. The chain reaction would make a mess of college football.

JB

May 10th, 2010
8:53 am

I like it the way it is…..I’M afraid if the SEC expands, Dawgs would lose some every year games to rotation like Auburn, Tenn. etc…….I would hate that…..I hate that money is ruining the game.

Beast from the East

May 10th, 2010
9:00 am

Just absorb the ACC. 24 teams, 4 divisions with the Gators and Tide still on top!

Hoof Hearted

May 10th, 2010
9:02 am

I don’t understand why the Big 10 would want to expand to 16 teams. That would be 5 more teams to split the same pot of money. So, those 5 new teams would have to generate that much more money, and the Big 10 would have to get new TV contracts worth enough to just keep what they have now. Also, unless the BCS changes, the Big 10 would only be able to get a maximum of 2 teams in each year, and that money would be divided 16 ways instead of 11. I just don’t get it. I get why they would want to have 12 teams – to have divisions and conference championship game, but 16??

Reptiles Rule

May 10th, 2010
9:03 am

I just hate the idea of these “superconferences” with 16-18 teams. The Big East in basketball for instance where some teams don’t even get to go to the conference tournament. Takes away so much of the excitement. Diluted is the word that comes to mind, like adding a glass of water to your glass of beer….

MMA is stupid

May 10th, 2010
9:03 am

They play football in the ACC?

Grantland Rice

May 10th, 2010
9:05 am

I read that Agnes Scott College was initially interested in joining but have decided against it because joining the ACC would hurt their RPI and strength of schedule.

Smartest Guy in the Room

May 10th, 2010
9:17 am

You people (Mostly UGA Fans) can’t see 5 feet past you much less a few years in to the future. This is setting up for a playoff and there will be no BCS to worry about.

JOHN BON GRAVY

May 10th, 2010
9:19 am

What is the ACC?

Tony = Chicken Little?

May 10th, 2010
9:19 am

Wow this sounds like 2004 when all the SEC pundits said that the ACC would never get a bigger contract after expansion. In fact many predicted ESPN would downgrade the tv deal — that didn’t happen. ESPN doubled the contract and the ACC landed the most lucritive basketball contract in the country later that year. As recently as 2006/07 the ACC was paying out more to its members than the SEC. That has changed with the SEC’s new deal of course…

Tony I don’t think there are any teams in the ACC that will leave for the SEC. Slive’s a big talker and bluffer and wants to appear to have a position of strength in the face of Big 10 talks. Football dollars be darned, the fact is athletics make up such a SMALL part of the budget for these schools. Research money dwarfs the television deals. The ACC wants to be a player in football, but not at the expense of admission standards or academic clout. Georgia Tech conducted $500 million in research last year (compare to UGA’s $200 million). Compare that even to the ‘massive’ dollars that the SEC getting per member for athletics — what 15 – 20 million? I think the ACC presidents have their priorities right.

The ACC will get a deal. It wont be the biggest, but it will reflect the conference’s basketball strengths as well as growing football presence. The conference is more stable than the big 12 and big east, who appear to be the main targets of the Big Teen.

Worm

May 10th, 2010
9:22 am

I see what you’re saying Tony, but as a tradionalist i hate these super conferences..The old rivals will go by the wayside..Also not going to be as many champions as in the past which will lead more coaches to the graveyard.

Scott

May 10th, 2010
9:23 am

If the ACC would proactively add Pitt, Syracuse, WVU and UConn, they would solidify BC’s membership (now have a northeastern rival(s)) and add value in football (Pitt, WVU w/rivalry) and solidify basketball as the clearly the best conference (Pitt, WVU, Syracuse and UConn are all SOLID programs). The northeastern footprint would bring in allot of TV dollars for an ACC Network.

[...] Conferences – I Am The 12th Man Taking Anonymous Pot Shots at Mizzou and Nebraska | Campus Corner ACC needs an expansion plan–right now | Mr. College Football Nine things and one crazy prediction Scout.com: The Big Ten, Expansion, And What Might [...]

KilroyFSU

May 10th, 2010
9:28 am

Tony, it’s only logical that if there are four SuperConferences, it will be the Big XII, and not the ACC, that dissolves. If the Big Ten expands to 16 teams, Mizzou and Nebraska are almost certainly gone. If the SEC expands, they’ll almost certainly make a play for Texas and A&M. With those two gone, the Big XII is no longer viable. The Kansas and Oklahoma schools would make the only play they have left: joining the Pac 10. Even if the ACC loses, say, FSU and Clemson, it will replace them with the Big East’s leftovers: WVU, South Florida, etc. Maybe Notre Dame would even join if they foolishly spurn the Big Ten. The ACC would be weakened, but by no means irrelevant. It’s the Big XII that should really be worried, for the simple reason that they are landlocked and in a sparsely populated region. If Texas goes, the whole pile of cards falls.

Otto

May 10th, 2010
9:36 am

Kilroy, The Big12 is the most unstable. OU is the biggest team that could be without a chair when the music stops.

The ACC does stand to fall further behind even after their expansion, if the SEC or Big10 take 2 top teams.

Mike

May 10th, 2010
9:39 am

The ACC is on the defensive as they now have the least bargaining power of the BCS football conferences. My guess is they no choice but to be reactive to what the B10 and SEC do. After they lose FSU, Clemson and one other school (GT or Miami), they’ll pick up the remains of the BE conference WVU, Louisville, USF, maybe Rutgers and add ECU

XpatHeel

May 10th, 2010
9:43 am

No way UF allows F$U or da U into the sec. No way UGa allows GT into the $ec. No way lil carolina allows Clem’s son into the $ec.
And why would any $ec school want to vote to admit 4 more schools and cause their espn pie to get sliced up into smaller pieces?

The ACC has been working behind the scenes for some time, in talks w/ the Pac 10. The Big 12 is not the only possible marriage for them. They would see an even bigger opportunity to create a sports network with an ACC hook up. The time zones would cover the nation in prime time coverages, and the basketball, baseball, and Olympic sports coverages would trump anything the Big 12 can offer..which is nothing but football. Not to mention the population of cable subscribers is vastly bigger in ACC states than in the mid-west area of the Big 12.

Slive is posturing. Delany will add some teams, but the $ec will do nothing. And the ACC will be just fine…either standing pat, or getting married to the Pac 10-12 in a cable network that will be as big or bigger than what the Big 10-16 has.

Jason

May 10th, 2010
9:46 am

The ACC is the poor little basketball conference that’s 10-11 vs. the SEC in football head-to-head over the past two seasons.

Adam

May 10th, 2010
9:47 am

The biggest problem with the ACC is that they are inconsistent. Rarely do you have the same teams year after year competing for the conference championship, much less competing for anything on the National Stage. In a lot of ways, teams like Boise State and TCU have more recognition than most, if not all, ACC teams. VT, GT, FSU, and UM are too inconsistent. If the expansions occur, the ACC will be driven even farther to the bottom of the food chain because no powerhouses will want to be a part of the Almost Competitive Conference. It is what it is…

T3

May 10th, 2010
9:51 am

Well, this is one of those RARE occassions that I agreee with TB.

Its musical chairs, and the ACC & Big East are vulnerable.

No way in Hell Texas & TxAM joins the SEC.

Right now, Tx, TxAM, OK, OKSt OWN the Big 12 “cash register.” Theyre not gonna relenquish that to ANYBODY for ANY REASON. Period. End of Story.

Mizzou & Nebraska going to the Big10 seems like a highly probable outcome. That would mean adding at least 1 more or 3 more.
Which: 1 or 3? Perhaps Iowa State wins the Big 10 lottery
for the last spot.

A website called “Frank the Tank” has a very good analysis of possibile Big 10 outcomes includung the idea of an alliance between Pac10 and Big12.

If Nebraska and Mizzou move to Big10, the Big12 would be down to 10 teams. The idea is that the Pac10 and the Big12/10 would be an alliance of 20 teams. Kind of a new “Great Western” conference, with Pac10 & Big12/10 “divisions” all playing a round-robin basis. Not really a bad idea at all, b/c all teams would play every other team in their “division.”

The fate of the ACC& Big East relies solely on Notre Dame.

If ND DOES NOT go to the Big10, then Big10 could look to force ND’s hand and push for 16 teams by raiding the Big East, forcing ND to abandon theie Big East alliance.

If ND DOES move to the Big10, then Big10 expansion likely stops at 14, with the addition of Nebraska, Mizzou, and ND.

SEC could choose to add FSU, Clemson, GT, TCU, SMU, Houston, or Louisville. Miami seems a very unlikely candidate. Dont overlook NCSt as a long shot possibility.

Big East & ACC better say a “Hail Mary” that ND goes to the Big10.

Pago Pago Dawg

May 10th, 2010
9:51 am

The Big Ten needs to add more cream puffs for Ohio State.

Bulldog59

May 10th, 2010
9:56 am

Can’t ignore the facts, ACC attendance numbers, are down down down….

2005 the ACC Championship Game drew over 72,000 fans.

Fast forward to 2008, only 27,360 fans bothered to show up.

Big jump in 2009, all the way to 42,815 fans.

Most schools draw more than that for a regular season tune-up game against a 1-AA school.

TB is right, the ACC needs to do something, quickly.

XpatHeel

May 10th, 2010
9:57 am

Adam, You need to check out the pre-season Top 25 from S.I. and even our own esteemed Mr. Barnhart.
The almost competitive conference is smoking your $ec in preseason rankings. Yea, yea,…I know we have to play the games before making noise. But the ACC is hardly the doormat it once used to be.
Times they are a changin’, and for all you $ec historians who are perpetually looking backward, you might just be in for a few surprises…like this year.

Otto

May 10th, 2010
9:57 am

XPatHeel, UGA would let GT in, it opens up an OOC game and with expansion on the horizon and the longer conf schedules that most likely come with it, may make an extra OOC date even more of an advantage. UF and FSU would be much the same.

jumbeauxtiger

May 10th, 2010
9:59 am

Obviously everything depends on what the Big 10 does, whether it’s one more team or if they end up with 14 or 16. If it’s 16 the ACC could be in real trouble if they lose any of VaTech, Clemson, FSU and Miami, or even all four.

I think it is very wise that the Big 12 has been proactive with the possibility of losing Texas and A&M by having discussions with the Pac 10.

It is going to be interesting when the Big 10 makes its choice(s)and then the dominos are going to fall. It appears that big changes in the makeup of the BCS conferences will become a reality.

Geaux Tigers
Go SEC

DP

May 10th, 2010
10:00 am

Tony says the ACC conference championship game has been a “mixed bag”. What does that mean, with attendance and the TV audience ranging from bad to horrible? Has there ever been a really meaningful or memorable ACC championship game?

T3

May 10th, 2010
10:01 am

ACC-CG has “suffered” mainly due to poor location.

Jax was not the best choice to pull in fans from VT and BC.

Tampa was not the best choice for GT and Clemson fans.

ACC-CG in Charlotte beginning in 2010 will dramatically change the numbers and will likely result in complete sell-outs going forward.

Technophobia

May 10th, 2010
10:01 am

If the Big Ten expands to 16 teams they would almost have to go to 2 divisions and add a conference championship. That opens up the question of where it’s played and who goes into which division. There’s also the question of what happens to conference rivalries and the academics of the conference will be an issue as well if they expand. That’s a lot of change to absorb in one or two years. I see them expanding but not to 16 teams.

T3

May 10th, 2010
10:04 am

The REAL outcome of ALL conference realignment/expansion really
depends on only 1 thing:

What will Notre Dame choose?

[...] the ACC starts its meetings today, so they need to figure out what their plan is. The ACC did get a good initial TV contract from expansion but that contract ends after the [...]

XpatHeel

May 10th, 2010
10:05 am

Bulldog59, When the ACC expanded last, Swofford had to swallow a bitter pill….giving the conference championship game to the state of Florida. Everybody expected either F$U or Miami would be in the game and the attendence would be strong as a result. They tanked, and so has attendance.
That’s now behind us. This year and for several to come, the game will be played in Charlotte, central to more schools, and the game will draw big numbers. Tune in. 12/4; ESPN; Prime Time.

Otto

May 10th, 2010
10:08 am

T3, Colorado has been very open to a move to the PAC10 and at that point the Big12 is down to 9 with the 3 historically strongest football powers in the Big12 North gone. Yes the Big12 could add Boise St, TCU etc but CFB is tradition and those teams don’t bring TV ratings.

If ND moves to the Big10 expansion maybe over, more than 12 is a risk and ND is a big TV draw. The Big10 would have their money, tradition, and academic standards.

ExPat, UNC maybe back to a top 25 team but that will most likely only last as long as the coach stays, just like Mack Brown. However I do agree the ACC will be back. FSU and Miami have been in the middle of NCAA investigations, scandals, coaching changes etc. The programs have suffered as a result. I think with the current coaching staffs in place both teams will be back in BCS bowls in the near future.

Alphare

May 10th, 2010
10:11 am

But, if a college presidents take a look at the overall financial picture of the college, he will have a totally different perspective.

OK, let’s assume the reshuffling give each ACC college additional $10million.

But a good college researcher can attract $5million. Just go ask how many Tech researchers attract $5million research funding on a yearly basis.

Overall, Tech’s research funding is in the hundreds of millions. That additional $10million (great if possible at all) is peanut change to Tech’s overall financial picture.

cattle dawg

May 10th, 2010
10:12 am

When the acc produces on the field results, I will give the acc the props it deserves. The sec can have a subpar year on the field and still be a better conference. The fact that you brag about preseason rankings in May just proves how pathetic of a league you are in football.

dawgfan

May 10th, 2010
10:12 am

DP, Wake Forest’s 9-6 win over Reggie Ball & Co. might be one of the greatest games of all time. It was so good that I almost rushed home from Home Depot to try and catch the end, but I decided that a new toilet plunger was more important.

Tony, the ACC has never been at college football’s Big Boy table. This would be nothing new. Who in the hell would miss ACC football? Not a soul.

BIG BEE

May 10th, 2010
10:16 am

HEY JASON, if the SEC is such a great football conference, why are they only 11/10 against the ACC over the past 2 seasons. Don’t think that percentage is so great.

McDawg

May 10th, 2010
10:16 am

GREED GREED GREED

Dan

May 10th, 2010
10:17 am

I don’t think it will come to the the ACC losing teams to the SEC because the SEC will not expand.

The Big 10 wants to get their network into the most households nationwide. They do this by forcing the Big East’s hand on Notre Dame. I expect they will offer three Big East teams to join the conference. The Big East, of which Notre Dame is a member in all sports except football, will go to Notre Dame and ask them to bail them out. Notre Dame will decline. The Big East will then tell Notre Dame to get out of the conference completely. But Notre Dame needs a conference for sports like women’s field hocket, etc. The Big 10 will offer Notre Dame membership, retract the offers to the other Big East schools, and Notre Dame will become a member of the Big 10.

This gets the Big 10 into households nationwide because, even though Notre Dame carries very little cache in the south, it’s really the only school they care about in the northeast. Done and done…

T3

May 10th, 2010
10:24 am

Money on the table:

Big10 takes Nebraska, Mizzou, and Iowa State.

All 3 AAU schools, which is a REQUIREMENT by all Big10 school Presidents.

Big10 gets a championship game.
Great geographic fit. Easy travel by teams and fans, which is important.
Adds “quality” to the Big10 football product.

Dont overlook the State of Iowa “arm-twisting” some folks to add Iowa State to Big10. Same way State of Texas arm-twisted folks to pair Tx & TxAM together. Same way State of Virgina required “pairing” UVA & VT.

If Neb, Mizz, and IowaSt all go to Big 10, SEC can say goodbye to Arkansas. Jerry Jones is gonna do ANYTHING NECESSARY to see his alma mater added to the Big12. He WANTS to see HIS Hawgs play in HIS new stadium on a REGULAR basis.

So, SEC will face a choice: replace just Arkansas or add 3 teams.
Slive will likely add 3.

Most likely for 3: FSU, GT, and Clemson.

goldwreck

May 10th, 2010
10:26 am

Yes,if the Big 10 went to 16 teams the pie would have to be cut into more pieces.That is not the issue.The issue boils down to how big is the pie? If the Big 10 added some of the heavily populated TV markets in the northeast,the pie would be bigger when those TV contracts are negotiated.

T3

May 10th, 2010
10:26 am

Otto

Unlikely Colorado will move to Pac10
if there is some kind of Pac10/Big12 “alliance.”

Debose

May 10th, 2010
10:28 am

Georgia needs to head over to the ACC, they got a better shot at a conference title and a BCS Title berth over there then where they are now. 41-17

Bulldog59

May 10th, 2010
10:32 am

XpatHeel, yep, I’m aware of the move to Charlotte, and the underlying reasons, one being to boost attendance. Smart move. If Miami or FSU is in the game, those fans travel well (or at least they used to.)

Still, it illustrates the issue, I drove all the way to Shreveport to see UGA in a meanless bowl in Nowhere, USA, also known as Shreveport. I’m a little baffled why fans wouldn’t do the same to see their team compete for a conference championship. Could be those folks planned on going to their respective bowl games instead.

Smart move by the ACC for sure.

Otto

May 10th, 2010
10:34 am

T3 the best way for Jerry to get his Hawgs to play in his new stadium regularly would be OOC matchups with Texas or Texas A&M.

If Texas sees 3 teams leave the Big12 North for the Big10 and another for the PAC10 they maybe ready to take a big check from the SEC.

If Iowa St leaves as you say, and Texas and Tx A&M leave for the SEC, OU is left without a chair when the music stops.

The Big12 maybe talking with the PAC10 as a way to prevent the PAC10 from signing Colorado.

kgator79

May 10th, 2010
10:38 am

XPatHeel…

Doesnt matter where they put the game, most in the country do not care to watch the ACC championship game. Yeah, maybe it being in charlotte will help get the NC or Wake Forest fan base to attend more, but overall most others dont care because every year the title game is between two schools that have no impact on the national scene. Last year you get one decent team and a 5 loss Clemson team. The year before, two 4 loss teams in VT and Boston College. The only way that game is getting major attention is if FSU and Miami become what they were in the 80s and 90s and face off for the title game, which isnt going to be happening any time soon. Until then, the game will continue to be on a noon and be the game that most turn on and only see by flipping through the channels catching part of the 3rd qtr only to get ready to watch the SEC title game later that day.

Dan

May 10th, 2010
10:39 am

Bulldog59, part of the issue is that you get only two weeks or so to plan to go to a conference championship game whereas for a bowl you get a month to plan. Also, most people are off from work between Christmas and New Year’s so it’s easier to get there. But it’s tough to get time off from work in early December because everyone is trying to get their stuff done.

But your point is well taken.

Otto

May 10th, 2010
10:39 am

T3, agreed with the alliance Colorado moving is unlikely without it, it is very likely.

http://www.thewizofodds.com/the_wiz_of_odds/2010/03/cost-of-colorado-jumping-to-pac10-9-million.html#more

Alot of politics and backroom deals have yet to be played out.

Charlie Bama

May 10th, 2010
10:40 am

Makes my head spin, Tony. “Alliance” between the Pac-10 and Big 12? Now it sounds like a Monopoly-style board game. Let’s not add games & not extend the season. Let’s stick with strong regional conferences and make teams and conferences ‘earn’ their attention every Saturday between the two end-zones. ‘Nuff said.