[Ed. note -- Front Page'd]
On one of the threads over at Testudo Times, I responded to a comment with a list of tasks that I thought the ACC could do to attempt to prevent defections and strengthen the conference. As I tend to chat with yall about these things here on BC Interruption, I thought I would post my thoughts here (and expand on it).
So ... here are eight steps I think the ACC should take in the near future.
1. Bring Notre Dame into the conference.
While I know Notre Dame seems to want to keep its football independence no matter what, I think there are significant reasons that the Irish may still consider moving to the ACC. There are numerous articles all over the place about the possible reasons they may or may not move, so I'll just list a few reasons it may be possible:
- Notre Dame may not be able to get as lucrative a contract from NBC as it used to be able to, because of declining ratings, loss of some personal connections to NBC, and the purchase of NBC by Comcast.
- The Big East has lost several of its strong northeastern teams (BC, Syracuse, Pitt) over the years. Part of the appeal for ND keeping its Olympic sports in the Big East is access to the northeast, and while there are still a bunch of teams in the region, several of the stronger ones are gone.
- The ACC provides much stronger competition in its Olympic sports than the Big East does, with five teams in the top 20 of the 2010-11 Director's Cup.
- The larger the other conferences get, the harder it is to create good out-of-conference schedules.
Despite their relative lack of success recently on the gridiron, I don't think the impact of Notre Dame joining the ACC can be anything other than incredibly significant and good for the league.
2. Bring one additional team into the conference to balance Notre Dame.
I won't go into which one it should be, other than to say that the names most commonly tossed out there are Connecticut, Rutgers, Temple and Louisville (my personal preference is Temple first, Rutgers second - I don't think a presence in Philadelphia can be overlooked, but a northern NJ and close to NYC presence would also be good).
I don't know if this is possible, but perhaps the ACC could negotiate with ESPN and discuss what possibilities might exist for a renegotiated contract even before Notre Dame and one other team are added; it might help bring ND into the league if they knew for certain there would be a great TV contract.
3. Change the football divisions to North and South.
This has several strong benefits:
- It will reduce travel costs for schools (something that everyone will appreciate).
- It will be easier for fans to travel to see their team on the road.
- Having all four southernmost teams in the same division helps to create more games worthy of being shown on national television. Notre Dame - Virginia Tech would also probably be a national broadcast (granted, ND-anyone could potentially be a national broadcast).
- Stronger division rivalries will create more regional interest, which is good for TV ratings.
- A North-South alignment gives Notre Dame plenty of games in the northeast (where it wants to be), and is not so brutal a schedule that they'll never make it to the conference championship. It could be part of the plan to help convince Notre Dame to join the ACC.
The "Atlantic" and "Coastal" divisions mean nothing to anyone other than close fans of the league. "North" and "South" are pretty obvious ... and are also sensible.
4. Create an actual Atlantic Coast Conference television network.
I like what the ACC offers online (and on ESPN3), but there is no reason the ACC should not pursue the creation of its own television network (presumably in conjunction with ESPN). There are how many millions of people on the east coast of the United States? If the Big Ten can be successful with a network, the ACC damn well can too.
A digital online network is NOT THE SAME as a television network. Getting an ACC TV Network carried by cable providers up and down the east coast (as well as the satellite providers) would be great for the league and could bring in more advertising revenue (I know Food Lion is a fantastic sponsor, but there are others out there too).
ESPN already produces a ton of ACC content (as "ESPN3" games at watchespn.com). These could be carried on the ACC network, as well as some of those that are produced by Raycom. Getting it on TV is better than forcing people to make three mouse clicks, wait for it to come in, and then get pissed off because their cable internet connection is degraded by all of the neighbors watching online movies and playing MMPORG's.
There is no good reason the ACC should not create this TV network.
5. Spread the conference championships more evenly across the east coast (i.e. don't put them all in North Carolina).
As you may know from this thread, the ACC decided (in its infinite wisdom) to put all but one of the "neutral site" conference championships in the state of North Carolina.
ACC, this was really, really stupid. And asinine.
I know that four of the schools in this conference are in North Carolina, but twice as many are NOT in North Carolina. This conference cannot survive as a strong conference if there is such an obvious North Carolina bias present in these decisions. It is blatantly unfair and disrespectful to the rest of the teams in the conference.
6. Move the ACC Men's Basketball Tournament out of Greensboro.
Sorry Greensboro. This is the ACC Men's Basketball Tournament. This should be one of the showcase events of the entire year for the conference. Greensboro is nice, but frankly, it's not big time, and there are much better places for the ACC to go. This is not the old ACC.
Rotate the tournament between Charlotte, DC, Atlanta and NYC. The folks in NC will still have a short drive to Charlotte once every four years (and not a terribly long drive to Atlanta either). Give the northeast some love.
7. Fire Swofford (or preferably get him to resign). Replace him with someone who does not have connections to North Carolina.
I know that Swofford has done some good things for the ACC over the years. However, I think that he either does not understand or refuses to accept that significant changes are taking place in college athletics.
The latest decision that placed so many of the conference championships in the state of North Carolina just adds ammunition to everyone attacking the ACC for its Carolina bias. This shouldn't even be a battle that needs to be fought. The fact that Swofford's son is a high-level employee at Raycom does not help.
I'm not suggesting the league offices need to move, but I am suggesting that the league must stop favoring everything in North Carolina . Swofford is simply not the man to lead the league in that direction. The ACC cannot be North Carolina's piggybank.
8. Create a new bowl game for the ACC at MetLife Stadium (the Meadowlands).
Creating a bowl game in the New York area (in an actual football stadium, not Yankee Stadium) would give the ACC it's own bowl event. No, it wouldn't be like the Rose Bowl or the SEC - Big 12 (Sugar?) bowl, but it would be college football and New York.
[Photo is by AngMoKio from the Wikimedia Commons]
The bowl festivities that lead up to the game would take place in New York City. A visit to Times Square, Broadway, whatever. Yes, it's December, but don't you think there are college athletes out there that would love a trip to NYC for the holidays?
Ideally, it would feature either a high-profile team or a relatively local (e.g. Syracuse, BC, Rutgers/Temple/UConn) team - or preferably both. Get it done and attract a high-quality opponent.
The ACC must adapt to the times or else it will be left behind.
I don't know if any (or all) of these things would prevent some teams from defecting to other conferences, but I think they could help. My team (Maryland) might end up landing in the Big Ten, but I'd much rather see them in a healthy ACC that not only survives but thrives. It won't be easy (especially with the SEC and Big 12 now getting along, despite the two teams that moved from one to the other) but hopefully it can happen.