Georgia Tech, ACC content to watch expansion for now

Dan Radakovich has been a bottom-line guy since taking over as athletic director at Georgia Tech and he isn't oblivous to the conference expansion talk in college sports.

Dan Radakovich has been a bottom-line guy since becoming athletic director at Georgia Tech and he isn't oblivious to the conference expansion talk in college sports. (AJC file photo)

Depending on which rumor you choose to believe, the Big Ten hopes to expand by one school, three, four, five or possibly 17, after which time it would become the first major college football conference to set up an international division based in Lisbon.

As Georgia Tech athletic director Dan Radakovich said, “It’s accurate to say nobody knows where this is going. I told somebody the other day it’s a similar situation to when there’s literally hundreds of scenarios about bowl games until suddenly the whole thing gets settled in a couple of days. There’s no certainty in college athletics right now.”

If you’re Radakovich, you’re watching with more than a casual interest. Tech’s athletic department has had to deal with budget cutbacks and economic issues in the past couple of years, and the ACC is in a delicate situation right now — so much so that other conferences may be looking to pick off members.

A recent ESPN story mentioned two ACC teams, Tech and Maryland, as possibly being in the mix in Big Ten expansion plans. Once you get past the initial shock of Georgia Tech road games in Ann Arbor and Columbus (the real one), you begin to realize nothing today is off the table.

Conferences are like corporations. They’re going to swallow college teams like Walmarts  swallow corner markets. Greed is good. Lunch is for wimps. Gordon Gekko didn’t have a conscience and neither do conference commissioners when ESPN knocks on their door.

Expansion leads to value. Value leads to bigger television contracts. Bigger television contracts mean money for bigger and better libraries. (Kidding.)

It doesn’t quite jibe with the “mission” of college athletics. But the NCAA has been a hypocritical outfit for some time now, and the SEC blew the roof off with gluttonous contracts with ESPN and CBS. Total value: $3.075 billion over 15 years. That’s $17.1 million per school per year before they have ever sold a ticket or opened bidding for a recruit.

How does Georgia Tech and the rest of the ACC fit into this? Expansion with Miami, Virginia Tech and Boston College, compounded by Florida State’s slide, has kept ACC football lower in stature than other BCS conferences. That is why the conference’s current television contracts, which expire after next football season, pay out about $5 million per school – the equivalent of change found under Mike Slive’s couch cushions.

That could be about to change. Sports Business Daily is reporting the ACC is set to announce a new 12-year deal for football and basketball rights with ESPN worth $1.86 billion. That would be a significant step up for the conference at $12.9 million annually per school, though still behind the SEC.

But this game isn’t going to end any time soon. The Big Ten, which wants to start a conference football championship game and is angling for SEC TV dollars, will start picking off teams. The Big 12 and the Pacific 10 will react.

At some point, the ACC will have to react. But right now, they’re just watching, and so is Tech.

The SEC is proactive on all matters with a dollar sign. The conference easily could expand and cherry pick from the ACC. How’s this for a scenario: Georgia Tech and Florida State joining the SEC? (The Jackets were once charter members of the SEC, for those not familiar with history.) The conference would have built-in rivalries with Georgia-Georgia Tech and Florida-Florida State.

Radakovich has heard the rumors. He says they’re unfounded. He says all the right things.

But does he close the door to change? No.

“Right now we’re very happy with the ACC,” he said. “If the landscape changes, we have to do what’s best for Georgia Tech. That’s our job.

“We’re all fans. We understand this is a business. We’re not turning a blind eye to what’s going on. In any walk of life, you have to ask yourself, ‘Can we do better?’ But I’m also reminded of the saying that the grass is always greener on the other side. It’s not occupying my thoughts right now.”

The Big Ten is still plotting. When it makes a move, it could be like the tipping over the first domino.

Earlier post

Bud Selig, Phil Jackson get it right on immigration law

Follow me on Twitter @JeffSchultzAJC and on Facebook.com/JeffSchultzAJC

83 comments Add your comment

OldMonty

May 18th, 2010
11:34 am

Tech to the Big Ten!

SEC_Champion

May 18th, 2010
11:36 am

Tech from ACC to Big Ten?! Thats like trading in a BMW for a Ford Focus.

Billy

May 18th, 2010
11:36 am

Just don’t be on the outside looking in when the dust clears!!!

[...] Georgia Tech, ACC content to watch expansion for now [...]

Dan

May 18th, 2010
11:53 am

The Big Ten isn’t angling for SEC dollars. That would be a step down for them.

Halberstram

May 18th, 2010
12:15 pm

Jeff, there are rumors that for a team to be added to the SEC that is located in a state that already has a member, the current member has veto power over the addition. For example, UGA would have to approve of Ga. Tech being added and would hold the ultimate vote. Is this true?

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Connor Petloe, NCAA Football Fans. NCAA Football Fans said: [NEWS] Georgia Tech, ACC content to watch expansion for now http://bit.ly/c7Pm5D [...]

HugoStiglitz

May 18th, 2010
12:21 pm

I would love to see Tech go to the Big 10. SEC, not so much.

Boss

May 18th, 2010
12:28 pm

The Big 10 is way ahead of the SEC in terms of dollars and prestige. And if the go to 16 the gap will only widen. GT should be a part of that if they are invited. They will be a part of what will be by far the most dominate conference in college sports. The one and only national conference if the add the likes of GT, Maryland, Vandy, Rutgers, etc… And the football would be on par with the ACC. Penn State, Iowa, Ohio State players aren’t any tougher than Clemson, FSU, VT.

On the other hand, with the new contract, the ACC is on par with the SEC in terms of dollars. But the ACC still vastly superior in terms of basketball, academics, and the type of fan that comes to the game. It would be a huge step down for GT to join the SEC in all matters except for football attendance. But people in the stands don’t put points on the board.

I say join the Big 10 and maintain good academics and classy, educated fans, or stay home and be the best football team in what will become the basketball superpower with an easy road to the title game every year.

GT Fan

May 18th, 2010
12:28 pm

Why can’t GT get a first class Basketball Coach ? Fire Paul Hewitt……….

Boss

May 18th, 2010
12:31 pm

By the way, a huge congratulations to the ACC and Georgia Tech for their new contract. It is absolutely remarkable what they have pulled off in this economy. The SEC fanboys at the AJC will not recognize it for what it is. But the ACC is back on par with the SEC in dollars.

Whatever happens with expansion the ACC is going to be just fine.

Jeff Schultz

May 18th, 2010
12:33 pm

Dan — Wouldn’t exactly say a step down. But since they have their own network, they are sort of in a different category.

Mike

May 18th, 2010
12:35 pm

Georgia Tech sits in the heart of the SEC. If the Big 10 takes them, that would be huge regarding television viewer-ship. Take two southern schools and it would become a national conference and less of a regional conference. This could be very interesting.

Jeff Schultz

May 18th, 2010
12:35 pm

Halberstram: I’m going to guess — and this is just a guess — that member institutions vote on all major issues, expansion included. Don’t know if that means it has to be unanimous. Nor do I know if that means Georgia would reject Tech, if it even ever got to that point.

Jeff Schultz

May 18th, 2010
12:37 pm

GT Fan — What’s the biggest race among reader comments on blogs: Who types “First!” or who types, “Fire Paul Hewitt”? These are questions that must be answered.

Jeff Schultz

May 18th, 2010
12:39 pm

Boss — It’s a good contract, don’t get me wrong. But $1.86 billion is not “on par” with $3.075 billion.

Scott

May 18th, 2010
12:42 pm

Jeff, they are in a different category because B10 makes much more money. Through the Big 10 network, Big 10 teams EACH raked in $22MM this past year, which will grow further with entry into new markets through conference expansion. if it’s all about the “bottom line” for Radakovich, as you say it is, then he’d jump to the Big 10 if they offered.

by the way, all this can be found out through simple google searches. it’s not THAT difficult to be informed, you know.

Sonny Clusters

May 18th, 2010
12:44 pm

We was never recruited that much by an SEC school but Clemson was all over us. We was almost there when the Braves called one of us and said we’d be the face of the franchise someday. One of us went to the Braves and the other went to second shift and nobody has looked back. If we was to choose a conference to play in if we was Georgia Tech we would want to play in one that had some good mascots and would not mind the fans politely clapping when a touchdown was scored like those old fellas in the East stands do now. Tech fans are always very polite.

wawel78

May 18th, 2010
12:46 pm

so Boss – Big 10 pays out about 22 mil per school and they’re way ahead of the SEC. The ACC will pay out 12.9 mill per school and they’re “on par” with the SEC? Your argument might be more compelling if your bias wasn’t so obvious. Why don’t you just say, “I hate the SEC so Tech shouldn’t go there”?

NavySealDawg

May 18th, 2010
12:51 pm

GT would look good in the Southern Conf. but wait , dont think they could be West Carolina,they would never beat Georgia Southern

Scott

May 18th, 2010
12:57 pm

… still trying to figure out how $22M (and growing) compared with $17M (and staying at that rate for 15 years) isn’t considered a “step down” financially.

jeff?

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Jeff Schultz. Jeff Schultz said: @ranfin12 How's this? http://bit.ly/dr6mOo [...]

NB

May 18th, 2010
12:59 pm

Are you serious? GT in the Big 10? I can’t believe that is even being discussed. There is nothing I hate more that turning on the television on a football Saturday on my only options being Big 10 games. Come on guys. Do you want to see Tech playing Illinois? How about Minnesota? This expansion would affect basketball too. Tech would no longer play in one of the best leagues in the country. No more Duke. No more Carolina. I don’t want Tech to move to the SEC, but I would hate for them to move to the Big 10. I can’t imagine there is a large contingent of Big 10 fans in the south. If you think Tech’s football attendance is bad now, just wait until Northwestern comes to town. There will be nobody in the stands.

Question

May 18th, 2010
1:00 pm

Jeff –

If teams are added to SEC, the money won’t go up, each team will just get less. Is this true & what effect does it have?

TommyJack

May 18th, 2010
1:05 pm

Tech would clearly be a nice addition to SEC. No brainer unless you’re a doofus. Or a dawg.

Joe Fan

May 18th, 2010
1:05 pm

Wouldn’t be suprised for the SEC to go after GT just to keep the Big 10 out of Atlanta. For those that believe Atlanta is full of UGA / SEC fans look again. The city is full of transplants and many of them from up North. GT is is a very good fit for the Big 10. Monetarily and academically it makes more sense for GT to end up there rather than the SEC.

Ramblin Wrecker

May 18th, 2010
1:07 pm

Jeff,

What do you think GT SHOULD do if the option to be in the Big Ten and/or the SEC exists?

Pi$$onaDAWG

May 18th, 2010
1:17 pm

If you don’t think Tech Fans travel now? Just wait. I will not sit the Tech Butt in Ann Aebor in Late October or November EVER. We traveled to Notre Dame a few years back as a September Game. Nice weather that time of year.

Pi$$onaDAWG

May 18th, 2010
1:22 pm

PS. If My family Snow Skied we probably would have gone to the Boise Bowl, but we don’t so we didn’t. I am not sitting in snow for a football game like that. I am from the SOUTH and I don’t like to freeze to Tailgate and watch a Game. I would go to a Playoff game in Green Bay just to say I did it once. You know the Bucket List thing, but to play in the Big 10 and travel up there ain’t happening except to games in Aug., Sept., and early Oct.

wawel78

May 18th, 2010
1:23 pm

I would like to see them join the SEC but it might make more sense to move to the big 10. Traveling cost would be something to think about but I suppose it wouldn’t be that big of a detterent for the difference in money between the two conferences.

I would love to see them renew rivalries with Auburn or Alabama.

juvenal

May 18th, 2010
1:44 pm

does DRad have complete control of this?(i don’t think he’ll poll the fans…)

OB-1

May 18th, 2010
1:48 pm

The ACC needs to be proactive and go after U Conn – decent football and basketball speaks for itself also a good rival for BC, Syracuse – in a good conference it might return it’s football team to glory. Pitt – good in football and basketball and invite Vandy as they are academic equals to any ACC college and way above the SEC standard, other than maybe UF.

OB-1

May 18th, 2010
1:54 pm

GT for the Big 10/11 and all you can think about is football and sprout off about academics, the better fit for the Big 10/11 is UVA; AAU member, ranked higher academically, better in more sports – 7 ACC championships compared to 4 for GT. Football and basketball are rebuilding and not that far removed from better days, one or two years should bring big differences for both. Also awhole lot closer to travel for all colleges.

jeffrey d

May 18th, 2010
2:02 pm

Jeff, are you not doing the Countdown anymore? If so, my weeks just got a little sadder

Reality Check II

May 18th, 2010
2:04 pm

As a GT season ticket holder the Big Ten would be just as appealing as the ACC. Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State and Iowa would be just fine to see come in the BD Stadium. The other teams like Wisconsin, Minnesota, Norhtwestern would be no worse than Wake Forest, Duke, Virginia. I do not travel to away games but the one negative would be travel costs for fans and also minor sports.

Scott

May 18th, 2010
2:07 pm

OB-1… GT brings ATL media market, UVA doesn’t offer as much in that regard. otherwise they are very similar

Jeff Schultz

May 18th, 2010
2:28 pm

Scott — Whoa. Easy with the sarcasm dude. Here’s your Google search: “Last year, schools received roughly $9 million each from the conference’s deal with ABC/ESPN and another $7 million to $8 million from the BTN. Add revenue from bowl games, the NCAA basketball tournament and licensing, and you arrive at the estimated $22 million-a-year distribution figure that’s the envy of every Division I school outside the Southeastern Conference.”

So let’s be clear about this: The SEC figures do not include bowl revenue or licensing fees as your $22 million figure does. That said, Big Ten teams have a sweet deal.

MLH

May 18th, 2010
2:29 pm

Scott just got owened

Jeff Schultz

May 18th, 2010
2:30 pm

Question — Your math is correct. But if more teams are added, it adds value to the package, and that package can then be worth more for the next TV package. It’s also worth more for licensing deals and the like.

Jeff Schultz

May 18th, 2010
2:30 pm

Ramblin Wrecker — That’s an easy answer: SEC.

Jeff Schultz

May 18th, 2010
2:32 pm

Jeffrey D — The Count and I are in negotiations. He’s tough, and kind of a prima donna, but tell him I said that. We hope to have a new deal worked out by next week, thanks.

RogersParkRob

May 18th, 2010
2:38 pm

When push (will) come to shove the SEC wont let Tech go to the Big Ten. Think of having Penn St, OSU and Michigan on Tech home schedule. Big Ten would have a foot hold into the fertile recruiting grounds, and have better media with the Big Tenh network. hmmm… Your right Schultz, Tech’s going to wait for an offer from both The Big Ten and SEC and choose……

OB-1

May 18th, 2010
2:42 pm

Scott, you are correct in the Hotlanta market, but UVA would give them an opening onto the DC market, as little an openning it would still be an opening.

Shane

May 18th, 2010
2:44 pm

Jeff
Sec contract is 15 years. Acc is 12. The gap is not that much.

OB-1

May 18th, 2010
2:46 pm

My opinion would be to align the ACC and SEC with each school playing two from the other conference, home and home every year. That is without a complete merger, this “Mega” Conference could rule ALL sports and not just football and basketball.

OB-1

May 18th, 2010
2:52 pm

Maybe the ACC should be proactive and raid the SEC and invite Vanderbilt, Florida, Georgia, Auburn, Alabama and in return we’ll give the SEC FSU or we give the Big East Boston College back.

jeffrey d

May 18th, 2010
2:59 pm

Thanks Jeff….I hope I didn’t come off as “Where the F is my countdown?! Lazy….”

Just wanted to let you know that I love your work.

[...] Georgia Tech, ACC content to watch expansion for now [...]

F jim cramer naked short the hedge funds

May 18th, 2010
3:10 pm

I hope things don’t change too much. I like the conferences the way they are. ND just needs to go to the big 10 and then they can have their champ game.

wawel78

May 18th, 2010
3:15 pm

so Jeff, are you saying the SEC is closer to the Big 10 than the ACC is to the SEC?

Also, I’m still having a difficult time believing recruits would go to the B10 just because GT is in the conference. I think one reason recruits come to the SEC is the weather. It would be a big factor for me if I was a big time recruit.