Following Paul Johnson’s news conference, Dan Radakovich visited with assembled news media to address the addition of Syracuse and Pittsburgh to the ACC and also to try to move some tickets. I wrote a couple stories about expansion, one on Monday about the announcement of the move and a second-day story about the basketball ramifications of the expansion.
1. Radakovich noted the work that a group of conference presidents, athletic directors and faculty reps have been doing for the last year and a half looking into expansion and realignment, and that the group had started to drill down in the last three to five weeks.
2. Tech has a home-and-home for 2015 and ‘16 with Syracuse, by which point the Orange will be in the ACC, so Radakovich and associate athletic director Ryan Bamford could have to start finding a new non-conference opponent. Please start constructing your Tech vs. Michigan/Ohio State/Texas/Florida/Oregon/Chick-fil-A kickoff game scenarios.
It’s conceivable, though, that it might not be necessary. Radakovich said he’s in favor of a nine-game conference schedule, which would leave only three non-conference games, which it already has in ‘15 – Georgia Southern, Tulane and Georgia. In ‘16, it’s Georgia and Vanderbilt and TBD. Go Tigerbeareagles!!
Radakovich is in favor of it from a ticket sales standpoint.
3. Radakovich, echoing Swofford’s comments, is not averse to adding 15th and 16th teams.
4. He made an interesting point about the travel concerns for athletes with Syracuse and Syracuse joining, that no one ever brought it up in the days of the Big 8. The Big 8 was actually fairly compact – the longest point-to-point distance in the final iteration of the conference was under 700 miles – but I will certainly acknowledge that flying from Boulder, Colo., to Ames, Iowa, in the dead of winter is not exactly a flight you can count on departing or arriving on schedule.
He also noted that scheduling, the possibility of four-team pods and travel partners, academic advisors and even the relative ease with which athletes can access classroom material, this not be as much of a problem as perhaps it once might have been.
Did you know that Grinnell College (a tiny liberal arts school in Iowa) was once a member of the Big 8? Also, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education, the school’s endowment is $1.3 billion? That’s bigger than Tech’s endowment, which is $1 billion. Grinnell’s enrollment is under 2,000. (If you’re wondering, Warren Buffett didn’t go there, but the co-founder of Intel did.)
5. He said the ACC, despite rumors of its impending demise, was able to remain intact and expand because of the commitment the schools had with each other. He noted the increase in the exit fee to $20 million, which he said could be seen from the outside as “a pair of golden handcuffs” but was in reality a show of solidarity and a way to keep the focus on the improvement and expansion of the conference.
6. Like Swofford again, Radakovich doesn’t see the conference going away from its equal revenue sharing principle, which would seem to rule out the possibility of Notre Dame, with its NBC contract. He did leave himself a wiggle room, saying “there’s a lot of ways to term something equal.”
7. I asked Radakovich if he felt any remorse for the remaining schools in the Big East. He said his focus was on the ACC and welcoming the new members and that the remaining schools have opportunities. “They’re just different opportunities than maybe a week or so.”
8. Tech has distributed between 45,000 and 46,000 tickets for the UNC game, he said, so evidently some freebies in there. “We are trying every method” to sell tickets, he said. “We have room for a few more folks on the wagon.” He was pretty eager to sell tickets. He even mentioned the ticket office phone number. (1-888-832-4849, if you’re wondering.)
9. Radakovich grew up in western Pennsylvania, about 20 miles north of Pittsburgh, and was a Pitt fan.