banner
Adam Gold

Change is in the ACC air

Posted May 14

John Swofford, commissioner of the ACC

As the Atlantic Coast Conference chugs towards the future and the huge gobs of money that seem to be sitting there for college sports -- even in an economic climate that is still somewhat flat -- the league has made news that alternately excited some and disappointed others. From moving the men's basketball tournament up one day to the scheduling announcement regarding football, the league certainly has made headlines this week.

For the record, I'm a fan of an 8-game ACC football schedule. The even number of games creates home and road equity, maintains room for those schools with annual, in-state, rivalry games -- especially in years when they play Notre Dame -- and allows for schedule flexibility for schools that need it. Everyone runs their own race among college football programs, and we would like it for Wake Forest and Boston College to not be aced out of a realistic shot at one of the 83 post season bowl games simply because a down cycle coincided with a ramped up conference schedule that saw them on the road too many times.

As for the argument that we need more conference games for a potential network and that inventory. I would argue that Wake-BC, or Duke-GT, or UVA-Louisville isn't as attractive to TV as you might think. The trick for the league to figure out really is how best to maximize the schedule they have, and one thing I would suggest to the powers that be -- okay, John Swofford -- is that giving us Virginia Tech vs. Boston College, or Clemson vs Georgia Tech EVERY YEAR is a waste of our time, and more importantly, ESPN's financial support.

Change the match ups. Rework the permanent partners. Reconfigure the divisions or, better yet, get rid of them entirely. Give television the best possible schedule you can, within the conference. Look at Virginia Tech's schedule this year. The Hokies' two games against the Atlantic Division are against the two teams most likely to finish 6th and 7th. Sorry if that hurts your feelings Wake and BC, and while it's certainly not a guarantee, that is the most likely scenario.

As it stands currently, the only two Virginia Tech conference games that are remotely interesting to television are those against Miami and North Carolina. We can, and must, do better than that within the 8-game schedule. And, John, please, please, PLEASE put that notion of non-conference games against conference opponents in a circular file somewhere. If that's what the coaches and athletic directors want, then just play a 9-game schedule and be done with it.

Conference games that don't count in the conference standings are idiotic and nothing more needs to be said about that subject.

The bigger news coming out of blue-collar Amelia Island, Florida this week dealt with the forward-thinking nature of the men's basketball tournament, the signature event for the ACC, even in this football-dominated age. Effective this March in Greensboro, the tournament will have opening round games on Tuesday, March 10 and the final on Saturday, March 14 -- in prime time.

The first thing we need to understand is that change is hard, unsettling in many ways, even if completely necessary. The fans will undoubtedly be impacted by the shift to a Saturday night final. For those intent on keeping up certain traditions and attending the entirety of the event, that means an additional day away from a normal routine on top of the fact that expansion has already extended time away from the office and other professional, or personal, obligations. In years when the tournament is played in non-North Carolina locales -- which I would argue should be no worse than a 50-50 division -- we will also have the added travel expense.

Lest I remind those of you in the warm under the collar category that this league doesn't belong to just you anymore.  For that matter, it doesn't belong to me either, as a 16-year resident of the Triangle, I'm in the same position as you are. The Atlantic Coast Conference isn't Tobacco Road-centric any longer. Heck, it's not even ACCentric anymore. There are 15 teams in the league and only six of them are essentially charter members. We, here in North Carolina, no longer have the right to keep it all for ourselves. Our own convenience can not, nor should it, be considered a priority.

Thus, the move northward, to Brooklyn for two years in 2017 and 2018, and I would guess another, likely longer, stay in the not-too-distant future.

Is that an inconvenience for North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia residents? I would say it is. Is it disruptive to fans of Notre Dame, Syracuse, Louisville, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Pittsburgh and Boston College? Well, for all of them, making annual treks to the Old North State was already an ordeal. Aren't they part of the league as well?

But, this needs to be about the hows and whys of a Saturday night final moreso than the wheres and whys of a New York City event. As much as we'd like to say the ACC tournament is still the be all, it hasn't been for years. The NCAA tournament's shadow looms so large once we get to Sunday that everything that happens that day gets lost in the furor of the Selection Show. Virginia hadn't won a conference title since the Carter Administration but were allowed about 150 minutes to savor the emotions before they were seeded, bracketed and picked to underachieve by the Tom Izzo Fan Club.

A Saturday night final allows the champ to at least go to sleep at night -- if that's at all possible -- with that feeling of euphoria without having it interrupted by the fact that some under-seeded, power conference school is waiting for us in the second round.

Here's another reality of the current; while the ACC has been playing quarterfinal games on Friday, the Big East (remember them?) was playing their semi finals the same night. And, over the last decade, those semi finals looked a lot more like Final Four meetings than anything else. Syracuse, Connecticut, Louisville, Villanova, Pittsburgh, etc, spent a lot of time in New York those years and that should not have been lost on true college basketball fans.

We are true college basketball fans, right?

On top of that, walk into any sports bar or college basketball living room on Saturday nights gone by and you'd see what I saw in every city the ACC Tournament visited; The Big East Final on ESPN. And, with the likes of Duke, North Carolina, Syracuse, Louisville and maybe others, that's what the future is bound to hold. Millions of people watching the ACC, the final Saturday night before the NCAA's. There is just no negative to a Saturday night finish.

These are times of change in the ACC and across college sports in general. And, while not all change is inherently good, it's healthy and does NOT have to be permanent. How about this, let's wait and see if it's a disaster before we condemn the ideas and those that support them. I was asked by a prominent and respected member of the media what color pom poms I was waving for Commissioner Swofford.

I'd like to think my arguments in favor of these developments are sound. I'm open to hearing opposing views. Too often, however, we remain rooted in the past like the sacrifice bunt, and by the time we realize that it doesn't actually increase our chances of scoring a run, it's too late.  The side's been retired and we lost the game. The ACC needs to keep moving forward, trying new ideas when possible.

As for my pom poms, I told my friend that they were Navy and Gold for our new friends in South Bend.

"Send a volley cheer on high, shake down the thunder from the sky."

How's that?

5 Comments

This blogpost is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • StunGunn May 15, 6:22 a.m.

    I like the "good 'ol days" of the ACC, but I'll take expansion over extinction, and I think The Swoff did the best he could to keep the ACC viable. The divisions do need to be realigned, or get rid of them entirely IMHO - they're not balanced in their current configuration.

  • jmcdow2792 May 14, 5:13 p.m.

    I concurr with the realignment or other changes to the football divisions. Schedules do need to be more evenly matched and provide better games. Just like the games outside the conference need to feature more BCS (or whatever we call the power conferences now) matchups. I think the Saturday end to the ACCT is a good thing.

  • cjw6105 May 14, 4:08 p.m.

    Totally disagree with Gold on many points.

    First, it's ridiculous to think that playing 9 league games is better than 8. We've already seen key ACC rivalries cut back to once a decade instead of once a year. And making a big deal out of the new Tue-Sat ACCT format hides the real problem here- that the ACCT has now become a 5-day marathon that will drag on forever. To say that finishing on Sat is a disruption makes no sense, as Gold has embraced ACC expansion, the very thing that will put students on much longer road trips for games.

    I know Gold loves the ACCT's move to NYC, which will not sit well with most ACC fans. It is for the benefit of ESPN and not we fans who donate money to our schools for the privilege of buying decent tickets to the games.

    I do agree with a division revamp. State, Wake and BC will be buried even deeper in the ACC standings with the addition of Louisville to the Atlantic.

    As usual, the Blues will continue to reap all the benefits of league expansion.

  • dmccall May 14, 3:55 p.m.

    Replacing a Sunday ACC game that people can attend with a Tuesday event is "forward thinking"? The ACC's brand was strongest when it was an 8-team league. Every move Swofford has made has been to sell out and dilute that brand. His treatment of the ACC is the equivalent of what General Mills did to Darryl's.

  • ACC EXPERT May 14, 3:36 p.m.

    it is never an ordeal to travel to the old North State.
    Northerners are invited guest, some seem to overstay hint hint Gold- you are never a true southerner.

  • NFL: San Diego at San Francisco

    Tonight at 8:25 on WRAL-TV

  • NFL: Panthers vs. Cleveland

    Monday at 1:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • NHL: Canes vs. NY Rangers

    Tonight at 7:00 on 99.9 The Fan

  • CBB: NC State at West Virginia

    Tonight at 9:30 on WRAL-FM

Scoreboard
Local
Final
UNC 82
OSU 74
2nd
MVSU 30
NCCU 50
 
7:00pm Tonight
UNCW
ECU
7:00pm Tonight
CAR
NYR
7:00pm Tonight
CHA
UTA
9:30pm Tonight
WVU
NCSU
Final
NYK 90
PHO 99
7:00pm Tonight
NOP
POR
7:00pm Tonight
CHA
UTA
8:00pm Tonight
HOU
ATL
8:30pm Tonight
DAL
SAN
9:00pm Tonight
DEN
IND
10:30pm Tonight
LAC
MIL
Final
LALAF 16
NEV 3
4th
UTEP 3
UTST 14
 
2nd
COLST 10
UTAH 24
 
5:45pm Tonight
AFA
WMICH
9:15pm Tonight
BGU
SALABAMA
Final
GEOR 81
CHAR 78
Final
WKENT 67
LOU 76
Final
MICH 51
SMU 62
Final
CIN 47
VCU 68
Final
BSU 77
ABCHRIST 33
 
Final
PROV 85
UMASS 65
Final
AMER 46
MNTER 45
 
Final
UNC 82
OSU 74
Final
IUPUI 71
SALA 65
 
Final
VILL 82
SYR 77
Final
VT 64
CITA 61
Final
DUQ 79
MLOWELL 63
 
Final
FAIR 61
BEL 73
 
Final
YALE 60
GTDNS 64
 
Final
FD 76
DEL 74
 
Final
PSU 73
DREX 68
Final
UNCG 64
ELON 71
 
Final
ILL 62
MIZZ 59
Final
CAMP 90
MONT 64
 
Final
LONG 106
PSUBEAVER 74
 
Final
HOU 63
SCST 71
 
Final
FSU 75
SFLA 62
 
Final
BING 51
BONA 69
 
Final
RUTG 68
RFLSH 73
 
Final
MCNST 69
TOL 83
 
Final
JVU 84
TRUETT 55
 
Final
GT 65
VANDY 60
Final
INDST 56
EILL 60
 
Final
BUT 73
IND 82
Final
STEPH 94
ARTCH 57
 
Final
OREG 83
DELST 70
 
Final
Terriers 61
FATL 56
 
Final
TXARL 89
HPYN 50
 
Final
KU 96
LAF 69
Final
ARKST 67
MARS 58
 
Final
MEM 78
ORU 63
 
Final
KNST 53
UMBC 66
 
Final
NW 67
WMICH 61
 
Final
MIZST 65
EMICH 77
 
Final
CHIST 77
STJOE 54
 
2nd
KENT 68
UCLA 27
 
2nd
COC 36
DAVID 45
 
2nd
RIU 36
DET 38
 
2nd
UCR 49
HOUB 39
 
Half
MURST 37
ILLST 42
 
2nd
NWST 62
LALAF 54
 
2nd
WAGN 32
MON 35
 
2nd
MVSU 30
NCCU 50
 
2nd
PITT 47
OU 45
 
2nd
TENNM 43
PBY 32
 
2nd
WYO 37
SOUTH 24
 
2nd
AFA 38
UCD 45
 
2nd
MSST 23
USCU 29
 
1st
JMU 6
HIGH 10
 
1st
TXST 15
HTILL 4
 
1st
DRAK 0
ISU 2
 
1st
SHU 13
UNH 13
 
1st
SCU 11
NE 12
 
1st
MSU 9
TXSOU 4
 
1st
UF 6
WAKE 7
 
5:15pm Tonight
ND
PURD
5:30pm Tonight
SHSU
PVU
 
6:00pm Tonight
AUB
XAV
7:00pm Tonight
AKR
BLUFFTON
 
7:00pm Tonight
DAY
BU
 
7:00pm Tonight
UNCW
ECU
7:00pm Tonight
CLMB
HOF
 
7:00pm Tonight
GMAS
IONA
7:00pm Tonight
TOWS
LAS
7:00pm Tonight
MAN
MRGST
 
7:00pm Tonight
CCST
YALE
 
7:00pm Tonight
PEPP
RICH
7:00pm Tonight
MAR
STJOE
7:00pm Tonight
KYST
TEXAM
7:00pm Tonight
MAST
VALPO
 
7:05pm Tonight
UMKC
INCWORD
 
7:30pm Tonight
IDST
CALST
 
7:30pm Tonight
NIOWA
IOWA
7:30pm Tonight
SIUE
UWMIL
 
8:00pm Tonight
TEX
LBSU
8:00pm Tonight
TCU
TXSA
8:30pm Tonight
ARK
SEMIZ
9:00pm Tonight
NCOL
JVST
 
9:00pm Tonight
ARST
LEH
 
9:00pm Tonight
NMST
NMU
 
9:00pm Tonight
WASH
OKLA
9:00pm Tonight
GRCN
STED
 
9:00pm Tonight
WEBER
WLVRN
 
9:30pm Tonight
WVU
NCSU
10:00pm Tonight
SDST
BST
10:00pm Tonight
GONZ
CPSL
10:00pm Tonight
PAC
FRES
10:00pm Tonight
PORT
MNTST
 
10:00pm Tonight
CSNO
TAMCC
 
10:05pm Tonight
UTST
SDKST
 
11:00pm Tonight
BYU
STAN
11:30pm Tonight
UNLV
UTAH
2nd
LOS 1
ARI 2
 
7:00pm Tonight
CLB
CHI
7:00pm Tonight
BUF
COL
7:00pm Tonight
PIT
FLA
7:00pm Tonight
CAR
NYR
7:00pm Tonight
MON
OTT
7:00pm Tonight
TOR
PHI
7:00pm Tonight
NYI
TAM
7:00pm Tonight
NJD
WAS
8:00pm Tonight
MIN
NAS
10:00pm Tonight
VAN
CAL
10:30pm Tonight
SJS
STL
2nd
WAS 10
PHI 7
 
8:25pm Tonight
SFX
SDC