Joe Ovies

When to worry and when not to worry

Posted November 23, 2012

As we wake from our turkey induced slumber and struggle to move from the couch, figured it would be a good time look back on some of the newsier items of the week. Blessed be the new era of 140 characters or less sports punditry, but sometimes stories need to brine for a couple days just like that bird from Thursday night.

When not to worry? Losing college basketball games in November. 

NC State and North Carolina are back on the mainland after dealing with separate island setbacks. The Wolfpack looked more interested in their post tournament Puerto Rican lechón than they did playing Oklahoma State on Sunday, while North Carolina never recovered from an early punch to the gut from Butler in Hawaii.

Each loss raised red flags of varying severity, but the stakes of November basketball are of slightly less import. It's unfortunate both the Pack and the Heels return from their holiday invitationals empty handed, but the only consequence suffered at this point is a few spots in the early rankings. It's foolish to judge either team beyond the immediate quick fixes.

North Carolina is a work in progress with a variety of players learning to execute their new roles, so the key takeaway from their trip to Maui was how they shook off the loss and dominated Chaminade in the consolation game. Now the Tar Heels will get another developmental look-in when they travel to top-ranked Indiana. It's a contest not many expect the Heels to win, but there is an expectation for North Carolina to assert themselves better than they did against Butler. 

While the "don't freak out, it's November" mode of thinking still applies to the Wolfpack, their loss to Oklahoma State raised a few more eyebrows because guys were either oddly quiet or fell into bad habits from last season. Lorenzo Brown, CJ Leslie, Scott Wood and Richard Howell combined to score 20 points.

It's important to remember NC State was a team that spent most of last season learning how to finish games and didn't put it together until a condensed period of time in March. Most, if not all, of the hype going into this season was based on that window. Now they're expected to look like that all the time, even if Mark Gottfried has correctly pointed out his team has ways to go in the different grind of the regular season. The Wolfpack get an opportunity to bounce back Friday night against UNC Asheville, but the real test arrives Tuesday against Michigan.

If last season was a gradual progression to playing good basketball at the right time, this season should be about NC State playing at that level against equally talented teams regardless of when the games are in the calendar.

When to worry? Losing a $50 million buyout clause.

Lost in all the conference realignment hysteria following Maryland's departure from the ACC is the true impact of their move to the Big Ten. It's not what John Swofford lost from his conference, it's how he goes about losing it. 

Let's be blunt -- Maryland is replaceable. They only value the Terrapins brought to ACC football was in the form of hideous Under Armour uniform combinations. While it's a shame Maryland's basketball tradition is lost at a time where Mark Turgeon seems to be turning it around, college sports isn't driven by the round orange ball these days.

Conventional wisdom says the ACC can add Connecticut or Louisville as the replacement 14th member and not skip a beat. Best case scenario is Swofford somehow convinces Notre Dame to join the conference full-time. Regardless, it should be the least of his worries. 

It's all about the $50 million dollar exit fee.

Along with Florida State, Maryland was the other school to vote against raising the exit fee when Notre Dame was introduced as a partial member of the ACC. University president Wallace Loh downplayed how much it would cost for his school to leave the ACC and seemed rather confident it could be negotiated down to a reasonable amount.

For the sake of the conference, Swofford better make sure Maryland pays every penny of that $50 million. The attitude should be to take Maryland to court, bring out the lawyers who were in the room when the bylaws were rewritten to included the increased penalty, drive up Maryland's legal costs and win. Swofford has to show a strong hand to the rest of the conference, that leaving just isn't worth the hassle.

Otherwise Maryland's success in leaving the ACC for the greener pastures of another conference will embolden those at Florida State who were rattling their swords this past summer. And if that happens, the ACC could find itself in the same position as Big East -- fighting for stability and relevance.


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  • dave437 Nov 26, 2012

    Perhaps this will be the end of Swofford and his UNC-centric regime...

  • Hammerhead Nov 24, 2012

    A. E. Newman for Commish.

  • StunGunn Nov 24, 2012

    View quoted thread

    When the ACC increased the exit fee to $50 Mill, I didn't think much about it, other than it was meant to discourage teams from conference hopping. You may be right, though, because by making the exit "fee" so high, the ACC is pretty much showing it will do anything to keep teams from jumping ship, including extortion.

  • StunGunn Nov 24, 2012

    View quoted thread

    Maybe I should arrest myself, but I think "then" was the correct word to use:)

    As for the real topic here, I'm not sure what Maryland could have done other than make the move they made, to survive. You made a good point about giving up sports just to stay in the ACC and still lose money. Tough situation to be in for Maryland and the ACC.

  • mahans99 Nov 23, 2012

    Hey Ovies, what gives? I thought Swafford was a super ninja. Looks like he was just owned by Delaney. No one but an ACC homer would think that the conference prestige isn't severely tarnished by this move. The timing couldn't be more perfect as ND goes to SoCal #1 and the house they were planning to move into is burning down. The Seminoles and Tigers are next. Go ahead and add UConn (#30 tv market) and whatever middling program you desire.

  • PacknoPride Nov 23, 2012

    I should have used than. I tried to go back and edit ( this just for the grammar police)

  • PacknoPride Nov 23, 2012

    So, if a team is forced to lose all of its other sports just to stay in the ACC, then they should stay in the ACC and continue to deteriorate until nothing is left. I agree it's nothing more that extortion. Swofford has done what he has to try and save the ACC, but is it worth it, and is it the right thing to do?

  • Ken D. Nov 23, 2012

    View quoted thread

    I agree with you about Swofford. He's doing the best he can with what he has to work with. My take is that the exit fee shows some desperation on the part of the league. It's pretty much an admission that you can't keep teams from bolting to one of the Big Four conferences except by extortion. It says you're running scared, and they made this statement before anybody had left.

  • VT1994Hokie Nov 23, 2012

    Maryland found themselves in a quandary. They had their doubts based on losing huge monies. When Ralph was let go, the attendance fell, but it was moving before then too.

    Football is the game in any University that can make a school go with revenue. Football. Basketball is the 2nd best source of revenue. For some schools; it's the only revenue. We lost some tradition, but Lefty, Dean Smith, and the good ol days have been long gone anyway. When Roy, K, Pitino, Boeheim, and some powerful coaches retire, then we shall see another focus.

    These people still make decisions passed onto the AD's and University President's. It will be a paradigm shift when these guys leave. The ACC will not look the same in a few years, but making money will be in tact for the most part. Survival for MD and a few others. Greed is still the word.

  • StunGunn Nov 23, 2012

    Maryland did not make their concerns known to anyone. I'm not sure what Swofford could have done - how do you bail out one school in financial trouble without ruffling the feathers of the other schools?

    I'm not sure if the $50 Mill exit fee will be as (un)successful as the Berlin wall, but I can't help but think if Marylands gets out at a lesser amount, other teams (FSU who also voted against the increased fee) will also try to escape....I mean bolt from the ACC.

    I don't know if I'm drinking the light blue Koolaid, but I think Swofford has done a very respectable job at the Commish of the ACC.




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