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What They’re Saying About The ACC’s Grant Of Rights Deal

gfx - they said itJust a taste of some of the reaction from around the ACC regarding yesterday’s surprise announcement of a grant of rights agreement that most expect to halt runaway realignment among the major conferences:

 

“This announcement further highlights the continued solidarity and commitment by our member institutions.  The Council of Presidents has shown tremendous leadership in insuring the ACC is extremely well positioned with unlimited potential.

The Acc has long been a leader in intercollegiate athletics, both academically and athletically.  Collectively, we all agree the grant of rights further positions the ACC and its current and future members as one of the nation’s premier conferences.”

– ACC commissioner John Swofford

 

“I think very significant in the whole process is the nearly complete negotiations with ESPN which involve a proposed significant increase in our TV revenues and also a path forward with an ACC Network.  I think the revenues are extremely important to us, and one of the key elements of that negotiation is the desire from ESPN as well as the ACC presidents that we increase the stability of the power conferences in the country.  So all of these things go hand in hand…

All of the discussions about who is going where, most of it just made up, has gotten the attention of every single president out there because it gets to the point where it actually starts to harm the ability to attract resources.  I think this is a case in point there.  The stability is generating a lot more resources and a lot more opportunity.”

– Florida State president Eric Barron

 

“I am thrilled with today’s announcement by the Atlantic Coast Conference.  It is one of the great days in the history of our conference as it shows the highest level of commitment — not by words, but by actions.  With all the uncertainty regarding conference affiliations the past several years in college athletics, this announcement, coupled with our media rights deal with the world’s best sports broadcasting network secures the ACC’s future, and thus Duke’s, for years to come.”

– Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski

 

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Thought Of The Day – 4/23/13

So much for all those expansion and realignment plans.

Thanks to the ACC — with a lot of help from ESPN — it’s expected that three years of major conference quaking will now mercifully grind to a halt.  And with that in mind, here’s an appropriate kickoff to the day from Everclear…

 

“I’ll be up on top when the sky falls down and it all goes wrong again.”

 

Everclear – When It All Goes Wrong Again

 

Great band live.  Time for Art, Craig and Greg to get back together, though.

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Buck Up, Expansion Fans, You Might Be Thankful For This Unanswered Prayer

disappointed 3Assuming that the just-announced ACC grant of rights agreement is as solid as a rock, there are going to be some very disappointed people around the US of A today.

In an effort to cheer the masses, we have a special dedication to make to…

 

*  The websites and talk radio shows that have thrived on expansion mania (It’s been good for business during summer downtimes.)

*  The messageboard operators who’ve seen traffic explode with every realignment rumor

*  Florida State fans who wanted to erase a 20-year-old mistake and finally jump to a football-first conference

*  West Virginia fans who wanted out of the Big East and moved to the Big XII expecting a few other regional schools to eventually jump in after them

*  Big XII fans who expected their league to swallow up Clemson, Florida State, Notre Dame and others in order to zip past the SEC as the nation’s best football conference

*  Anyone who wanted Texas AD DeLoss Dodds to not get his way for once

*  Proponents of super-conferences who wanted to see the creation of 18-, 20-, or even 24-school leagues

*  All of the folks who thought we’d wind up with four 16-school leagues and a nice, neat eight-team college football playoff to go along with them

*  Cincinnati and UConn fans who thought they’d finally find a way into the ACC, Big XII or Big Ten if expansion continued to boom

*  The makers of cocktail napkins (as there will be less need for sports bar chit-chatters to draw up explanations of their favorite realignment scenarios)

*  The folks who’d already penciled North Carolina State and Virginia into the SEC

*  The Big Ten which clearly had eyes on a few more Eastern and Southern schools for the purposes of dealing with population shifts and demographic changes

 

Yes, to all of those groups and more, here’s hoping Garth Brooks’ ol’ #1 hit from 1990 rings true.

 

Unanswered Prayers Garth Brooks

 

Just a great, surprising move by John Swofford.  On behalf of MrSEC.com, we’d like to thank him for doing his part to try and put a lid on three years of craziness.

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ACC Grant Of Rights Deal Could End Realignment Madness For A While

shockNow here’s something unexpected…

David Glenn of WCMC-FM in Raleigh — that’s not him at left — is reporting today that the schools of the ACC will soon announce a “unanimous 15 school agreement extending” a grant of media rights to the league office.  If/when such a move occurs, it will likely serve as an emergency brake for the runaway train known as conference realignment.

According to Glenn, who is also the publisher of the ACC Sports Journal at ACCSports.com, the deal is expected to run through the conclusion of the current ACC/ESPN television contract in 2027.

ESPN’s Brett McMurphy has confirmed the report through his own ACC sources and David Teel of The Daily Press in Hampton Roads, Virginia has reported that the GOR was distributed to ACC schools three to four weeks ago for their review.

So what does this mean?

 

* It means John Swofford has solidified his Atlantic Coast Conference.  That was a Herculean task with Jim Delany and the Big Ten bearing down on his league.  Kudos to the ACC commish.

* It means that any school attempting to leave the ACC prior to 2027 would have to forfeit its rights (ie: television money) back to the ACC regardless of what league it wound up in.  Not only would the school lose millions upon millions of dollars, but any league looking to add an ACC school would — theoretically — see no real financial reward from bringing in said school.

* It means the Big Ten, Big XII and SEC won’t be making raids for schools such as Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia Tech, Duke, NC State, Virginia Tech, Clemson, Florida State, or Miami as many had expected and some had hoped.

 

And before you start wondering, there are already reports that the ACC plans to stand pat at 15 schools (14 full members plus Notre Dame).

Ironically, the last major conference without an official grant of rights deal is the SEC, though with the league buying back most of its schools’ third-tier media rights and rolling them into the league’s new deal with ESPN, it might as well have such a document.  Also, while the Big XII might eye Arkansas or the Big Ten might consider Kentucky or Vanderbilt or finally Missouri, there’s really very little chance of any SEC school leaving.  As Mike Slive is fond of pointing out, the SEC has no exit fee (because no one would ever want out).

So if the Big Ten truly wants to grow into a 16-school league, UConn and Cincinnati remain available.

If the Big XII wants to expand past 10 schools, BYU, Cincinnati, UConn, or other smaller Midwestern/Western schools (such as Boise State) would appear to be the best bets.

For the SEC, it looks as though the league will remain a 14-school league after all, which is exactly what multiple SEC sources have told us the conference was hoping for lo these many turbulent months.  If the ACC’s grant of rights agreement comes about and it is as ironclad as most lawyers believe these types of agreements to be, any SEC move into Virginia or North Carolina won’t occur on Slive’s watch.

And for the average college sports fan who was just praying for an end to the expansion/realignment madness, this shocker of a move should serve as a belated Christmas present.

Big news.

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New Notre Dame TV Deal Does Nothing To Slow Realignment

nbc-leprechaunFor the ACC, the best way to achieve stability would be for the league to add Notre Dame as a full member.  Currently the Irish are scheduled to join John Swofford’s conference in 2013-14, but only those sports not using a pigskin will officially join.  The Notre Dame football team will play five ACC opponents each year, but it will maintain it’s independence.

It will also maintain its television contract with NBC.

Yesterday it was announced the school and the network had extended their current contract by another 10 years, running through the 2025 gridiron campaign.  In the past the school and the network had agreed to five-year extensions of the deal that was initially signed back in 1991.

NBC — now merged with Comcast — can offer “additional avenues to expand the breadth of Notre Dame-related sports programming on NBC platforms,” according to Irish athletic director Jack Swarbrick.  In other words, expect NBC to continue to air Notre Dame home football games while the new NBC Sports Network (which reaches 80 million homes) will launch specialty programming focused on Notre Dame athletics.  NBC Sports Network will also have access to the school’s other sports and a home football game on occasion.

ESPN owns the rights to Notre Dame road football games played at ACC schools via its contract with that conference.

In a statement, NBC Sports Group chairman Mark Lazarus said, “We are particularly excited that this extension offers enhanced rights that allow us to bring Notre Dame Football to fans on more platforms than ever before.”

So why write of this on an SEC-centric website?  Because Notre Dame’s extension with NBC impacts the ACC and the ACC is the conference that’s currently most vulnerable to another league’s raid.

“I think it strengthens us in a lot of different ways,” Swarbrick said yesterday.  “It’s not intended to be a signal about (independence).  Our commitment to it isn’t more today than it was two years ago.  It’s a starting point for our planning what we wanted to achieve.”

Maybe so, but the deal most certainly does button-up Notre Dame as a football independent for the foreseeable future.  With NBC/Comcast cash rolling in, the school can continue along as an adjunct football member of the ACC.  Or another conference.

From an ACC standpoint, Notre Dame won’t be rushing in as a last-minute hero to save the day.  If the Irish had joined the league full-time — and no one really expected that they would — it would have meant four additional ND/ACC football games each season.  That would would have meant more inventory to sell to ESPN and more cash for the league’s schools.  It would also would have meant that “football schools” like Florida State and Clemson would’ve seen Notre Dame more often.  As it stands, 14 ACC schools will be pushing for matchups with Notre Dame but only five per year will get them.

It’s believed that several ACC schools have had discussions with the Big Ten regarding a potential jump to Jim Delany’s league.  Maryland is currently fighting to escape the ACC’s $50 million exit fee by way of the court system.  If that fee is eventually negotiated down — like just about every other exit fee that’s ever been challenged — it’s possible schools like Virginia, Georgia Tech, and/or North Carolina could get invites from the Big Ten.

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Krzyzewski On New ACC: “Most Powerful Basketball Conference…Ever”

KrzyzewskiDuke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski is an outspoken critic of the realignment and expansion underway in college sports.  When his Duke team meets Louisville on the basketball court today, it will do so as NCAA Tournament rivals battling it out to go to the Final Four.  But when the Cardinals move to the ACC in 2014, these two teams will meet regularly as conference rivals.  He was asked about the changes at a Saturday news conference.

 

For all these schools that have joined, it makes us the most powerful basketball conference, I think, ever.  And I hope our league is able to understand the assets that we’ve accumulated and what it does to the assets we already have. I think if positioned properly, it sets us apart from anybody.  And we shouldn’t look at where football is or whatever.  We have the best assets as a result of Louisville, Syracuse, Pitt, Notre Dame, and the assets we have — we’re joining together.  I mean, we better know how to make use of it.

 

In a follow-up question, Krzyzewski showed he’s not only a coach, but thinking more like a conference commissioner. In a football-first world, he’s putting the focus on the marketing of college basketball.

 

Does our conference develop its own TV network? Where we play the tournament — when do we play the tournament?  How do we position our regular season?  How do we have the teams play schedules that are worthy of being considered for NCAA consideration? In other words, (we need) to take a real close look at our league with the new members and say: Why are we different, why are we better, and how can we be the top league?

 

In addition to the schools scheduled to join the ACC, the conference is losing Maryland to the Big Ten.  However, as we told you this week, Maryland’s move is being held up in court.

 

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Realignment-Followers Hold Their Breath As Blowback Increases Against Maryland’s Move

exploding-cigarWhen suddenly, almost out of nowhere Maryland announced last fall that it would be leaving the ACC for the Big Ten, college sports fans gasped.  Plenty of big name schools have changed affiliations over the past three or four years, yes, but none had done so quite as unexpectedly as Maryland.

The Terrapins — members of the seemingly stable ACC since 1953 — were striking out on their own to join what had always been perceived as a Midwestern conference.  And it happened just when expansion and realignment stories appeared to be slowing down, giving way to talk of a new college football playoff.

Since Maryland’s announcement, rumors have since swirled of further ACC defections.  To the Big Ten.  To the Big XII.  And to the SEC.

Yet Maryland’s move is being held up in court by the Atlantic Coast Conference.  Last month the league’s lawsuit demanding a $52 million exit fee was upheld by a North Carolina judge.  As things continue to play out in the courtroom, the court of public opinion is weighing in on the situation, too.  Maryland hasn’t been winning in that court either.

At issue is the school’s rushed decision to jump conferences.  School president Wallace Loh has said the move needed to be fast and quiet due to to a non-disclosure agreement Maryland entered into with the Big Ten.  Critics like former Terp athlete and Maryland congressman Thomas McMillen have said it was all too fast and too quiet.  McMillen wrote in November:

 

“(A) change of this magnitude should not be made over a weekend, with minimal documentation, little transparency and no input from anyone who might be opposed to it… Public universities receiving taxpayer money are supposed to operate under shared governance, but what happened at Maryland was governance by secrecy and exclusion.”

 

How much secrecy?  The Washington Post recently asked the school for a copy of its contract with the Big Ten.  The school said it didn’t keep one.  Asked then for a copy of the information the school provided board members as they made their Big Ten decision, the school again balked.  According to McMillen it was a “single piece of paper outlining the proposal, and it was taken away” at the end of the group’s meeting last November.

Now Maryland faces a lawsuit that was not thrown out by the first judge to hear it as well as internal friction over how quickly the move was planned and announced.  Could it be that Maryland’s exit from the ACC will finally be the one that slows the current expansion/realignment boom?  After all, in other recent high-profile moves the threat of lawsuit has usually given way rather quickly to a renegotiated exit fee.  And most schools have managed to put forth a “we’re all on the same page” spin even when there have been snubbed toes and hurt feelings behind university walls.  At Maryland, there seems to be a bigger internal rift than we’ve seen in past realignment cases.

In the end, the Terrapins will wind up in the Big Ten with Nebraska, Wisconsin, and Iowa.  But that move could be so slow and so painful — in terms of exit fees and smeared reputation — that other schools might not be so quick to switch conferences moving forward.

Heck, some schools might even take a whole week to mull such decisions.

For now, all eyes remain on Maryland.  Until the Terps manage to free themselves from the Atlantic Coast Conference, don’t count on any other major dominoes to fall.

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Texas A.D. Dodds Blames End Of A&M Series On A&M (Also Talks Expansion)

deloss-dodds-hook-emYou’ve got to hand it to DeLoss Dodds.  His lies give credence to the old line that “everything’s bigger in Texas.”

The Longhorn athletic director said in an interview with the student newspaper at UT — the Big XII’s UT, not the SEC’s — that it’s Texas A&M who brought the football rivalry between the two schools to a halt, not the other way around.  This in spite of the fact that everyone outside the Lone Star State and half the people in it know full well that A&M has said it wants to continue playing the series and that Dodds’ school is the one that balked:

 

“I’m think we’ll play sometime.  I don’t know when it will happen or how it will happen, but I’m sure it will happen…

They left.  They’re the ones that decided not to play us.  We get to decide when we play again.  I think that’s fair.  If you did a survey of our fans about playing A&M, they don’t want to.  It’s overwhelming.  I know.  I hear it.  Our fans are important to us.  I think there’s got to be a period where things get different.  I think there’s too many hard feelings.”

 

“They’re the ones that decided not to play us,” is a complete fallacy, a canard, an untruth.  Georgia Tech once left the SEC.  Their arch-rival, Georgia, didn’t take their ball and run home.  South Carolina left the ACC in 1971.  Their hated cross-state neighbor, Clemson, didn’t pout and cancel the South’s uninterrupted football series.

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FSU A.D. Spetman Talks Openly About Switching Conferences… And The SEC

fsu logoFlorida State is smack-dab at the center of the current conference realignment rush.  FSU is a member of the ACC, located close to the SEC, reported to be desired by the Big XII, and possibly desirous of a spot in the Big Ten.

In many ways, Tallahassee, Florida is located right on the fault line of college athletics’ shaky landscape.

Yesterday, FSU athletic director Randy Spetman talked rather openly about the future with ESPN’s “Nole Nation” website.  Certainly he was more open than he or most other ADs have chosen to be in the past.

“It’s not done,” Spetman said regarding realignment.  “I watch it every day, reading something about it every day, trying to get a sense and calling my counterparts and seeing where they’re really at.”  He also said that FSU brass have “had conversations at the senior level about what we should consider.”  He added: “There will be more of those conversations — they’ll continue.  It’s an evolution every day.”

ACC commissioner John Swofford must love reading that.  Ditto those ACC fans who continue to whistle past the graveyard and claim that all’s well within their favorite league.

Of the Seminoles’ current home, Nole Nation reports that Spetman “said he’s confident that the ACC is moving in the right direction, and the Noles staying remains the most appealing solution.”

But.

While discussing the key factor in all of these realignment moves — revenue — Spetman mentioned one conference by name:

 

“Unless you bring in a revenue for them so that they don’t reduce their conference distribution to themselves, they aren’t going to bring you in.  That’s what I don’t think people evaluate as much.  It would be great to be in the SEC with our radius of schools and the way our fans travel and their fans travel, but if they bring Florida State into the SEC, I’m trying to see, how do we sell that we bring them enough additional revenue that we pay for ourselves and they make more money off of us?  They have Florida just two hours away that has the TV market here.”

 

A little more than 20 years ago Florida State passed on an opportunity to join the SEC.  Then-football coach Bobby Bowden has admitted that he felt his teams could do more winning in the ACC than in the rough-and-tumble SEC.  The Seminoles did win early and they did win a lot in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

But FSU’s fears in the late-80s and early-90s have haunted them for the past half-decade.

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No Surprise: The ACC Would Welcome Notre Dame ASAP

welcome_mat2Until November, Notre Dame was scheduled to begin play full-time in the ACC (in all sports but football) by 2015.  But then Rutgers announced it was leaving the Big East.  That led to a breakaway by the “Catholic 7″ and even the loss of the Big East name altogether.  As of today, Notre Dame has no home for the 2013-14 academic year.

It should come as no surprise, however, that sources tell ESPN the ACC would allow the Fighting Irish to join its ranks this summer, ahead of schedule if the school desires.

After losing Maryland to the Big Ten, John Swofford’s league is currently attempting to fend off further potential raids from the Big Ten (and maybe the SEC and the Big XII).  Getting Notre Dame into the fold as soon as possible might not prevent future departures, but it can’t hurt.

Of course, nothing ever goes smoothly when it comes to schools switching conferences.

What’s left of the Big East — or whatever it will be called — apparently intends to make the Irish pay an exit fee before it can flee the shrinking league.  “Nobody’s going to let Notre Dame just leave; it needs to be negotiated,” a Big East source told ESPN.

Anybody else sick of all this realignment/expansion/lawsuit/negotiations nonsense?

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