Friday, December 28, 2012

Duke's David Cuttcliffe Overrated

Last night I decided to enjoy the Bowl Season by tweeting during the Cincy-Duke bowl game. Since I hate Duke (and I really hate Duke) my natural inclination was to talk a little smack against Duke and the ACC.

 I didn't go overboard - I didn't use profanity or vulgarisms. What I did was point out that Duke was undeserving of a bowl bid and that David Cuttcliffe, Duke's head football coach, was overrated and in reality not a very good coach. 

The blowback from the Duke and ACC was almost immediate and it was, for the most part, profane, vulgar and often downright stupid. 

Duke's fans showed a fundamental gap in their football knowledge. One Duke fan, who apparently has no idea that WVU has won more BCS bowl games than the entire (ACC), sent me a hateful little message asking what would happen if WVU played Clemson. 

He did not seem to know that WVU played Clemson in the Orange Bowl last year and won 70-33.   

What happened to sports being fun? What happened to lively repartee and the back-and-forth smack of fan bases? I try to be funny and factual. Duke fans, and ACC fans in general, responded with profanity. 
No once cared to make a factual argument or attempted to have fun with it.

They went straight to the "motherf$%#$s" and tired jokes about West Virginia. 

No one wanted to debate Cuttcliffe's anointment as a great coach. No one seemed to care he has never had a winning record at Duke and actually regressed in 2010 and 2011. Five years at Duke and he's produced 9 conference wins and a 21-40 record. 

Good coaches turn around programs in 3 or 4 years and sometimes less. David Cuttcliffe is not a good coach.  Charlie Strong stepped in at Louisville, took over for Steve Kragthrope, and turned around Louisville in only 2 years. Dana Holgorsen seems to have regressed WVU this year but the WVU program he inherited from Bill Stewart was in bad shape ( numbers wise  recruits) and lacked depth at nearly every position. He's turning around the culture of the WVU program. 

What has Cutcliffe done? He hasn't won at Duke. He hasn't produced a single winning season at Duke. Cuttcliffe's earth-shattering 6 win season that won him the ACC coach of the year award is a mirage.  

Cuttcliffe took a bad Duke team and beat Florida International (3-9), North Carolina Central (6-5), and Memphis (4-8). He won a total of 3 ACC games against Wake (5-7 - 3-5 ACC), UVA (4-8 - 2-7 ACC) and UNC (8-5 - 5-3 ACC). 

Duke had only 2 wins against schools with winning records and 1 of those was against MEAC member NC Central. Duke's only claim to be bowl worthy was a win over UNC and if that's the brightest spot on your football resume you deserve to stay at home for the bowl season.

Bill Stewart went 28-12 in his 3 seasons as head coach at WVU with wins in the Fiesta and Car Care bowls. He was fired. 

David Cutcliffe is 21-40 at Duke. He followed up his 5-7 2009 campaign by going 3-9 in both 2010 and 2011 and engineered a 6 win season by adding Memphis, NC Central and Florida International to the schedule and people proclaim him a great coach. 

Just answer me this one question: would Cutcliffe be considered a great coach anywhere but Duke?

Not a single ACC apologist or Duke fan even cared to ask honest questions about Cuttcliffe's coaching resume. Instead they went on the attack and showed their ignorance and hostility towards anyone not willing to worship at the alter of a 6-7 coach with a career record of 65-69. 

Sports are supposed to be fun. Banter and back-and-forth are supposed to be fun and far too many of us have lost perspective and forgotten how to be civil. 

Duke and the ACC showed us exactly why the ACC is doomed last night. A football coach at a basketball school goes 6-7 and wins coach of the year over Jimbo Fisher, Dabo Swinney, Paul Johnson and Al Golden. 

Monday, December 3, 2012

In Response to Mr. Barron

Florida State University President Eric Barron has apparently addressed growing rumors of ACC instability by specifically referring to my "nom de plume" (dudeofWV) as an internet rumor-monger spreading "incorrect" information.

I began writing about conference realignment last January when I postulated the growing concern of Florida State and Clemson over the revenue gap between the ACC and the SEC would lead them to explore options with other conferences.

It was shortly after WVU and Clemson played in the Orange Bowl that I learned substantial discussions were ongoing between the Big 12 and FSU and Clemson.

I am guilty of many things as I have tried to cover expansion. I have sometimes jumped to conclusions and let my enthusiasm get the better of me. However I have always been careful to only write what I was certain was true and I learned the hard way to double-check my facts.

I began posting a blog about WVU and WVU's chances at being invited to the SEC to defend WVU against those who had incorrect assumptions about WVU and West Virginia. My experiences writing about the SEC taught me a valuable lesson – double and triple check facts.

Contacts within a major university like WVU know the power of social media. They know they can release information via social media that a traditional news outlet, like the Charleston Gazette, could never print. Traditional journalism is about what "has happened" not what "could happen" and social media nicely fills that gap.

A conference like the Big 12 or a university like FSU could use social media to plant a rumor to gauge fan support for a conference switch or coaching change – the opportunity to shape opinion is there and universities are becoming more adept at using it.

The danger to bloggers is that information is shared for a reason and that reason always serves the best interest of the university and may or may not be true. I learned that when I was told WVU had submitted paperwork for the SEC. My contact at WVU did not tell me that WVU had only submitted financial information and lead me to believe that WVU had submitted an application for membership.

I learned my lesson well and when I began writing about FSU and Clemson I was very careful about what I did (and did not) write. I took great pains to verify information and reached out to several media members who confirmed the majority of what I had learned. These helpful individuals had no connection to WV or WVU.

At every step in the process I freely shared whatever information I had and I was fortunate enough to have others share their information with me. Every piece of the puzzle was verified and although some details remain murky, like the specifics of the ACC contract, I was able to independently verify each and every one of the items I've written about.

I stand by my assertion that both FSU and Clemson had significant talks with the Big 12 and that both were willing to leave the ACC based on facts collaborated by my media contacts, independent of WVU, who covered FSU, Clemson and the SEC.

Eric Barron can deflect all he wants and try to reassure his boosters but the fact remains the ACC has problems that that threaten their stability.

Eric Barron can't change the fact that the ACC is the lowest paid of the major football conferences. He can't change the fact the ACC's reputation harms Florida State chances of reaching the playoffs in 2014. Barron can't change the fact that the Big 10, SEC and Big 12 covet ACC members and even the $50 million exit fee isn't enough to keep the conference whole.

More importantly Eric Barron can't change the fact that the new BCS playoff system begins in 2013 and the Big 4 are determined that the ACC isn't around to receive their share.

As for Eric Barron calling me out by name I have a few simple questions for him:
  1. Have you or anyone acting on FSU's behalf spoken to the Big 10, Big 12 or SEC about conference membership?
  2. Have you or any agent of FSU retained outside representation to review or prepare financial documents related to Big 10, Big 12 or SEC membership?
  3. Have you or anyone representing FSU spoken to the Big 12 conference in the past 14 days.
  4. Have you spoken with senior leadership at Boston College, Clemson, UVA, Virginia Tech Georgia Tech about their plans in regards to ACC membership.
Barron admitted he has been talking to other university presidents and you can bet those presidents are in the Big 10, SEC and Big 12. So until the ACC either releases details of its TV contract or signs a grant-of-rights it would be foolish not to think Eric Barron isn't fulfilling his fiduciary responsibility to explore FSU's options as the Big 10 plans its next move.

As for the criticism… I have done all I can do. I have shared what I know, given up my non de plume and used my real name. I don't own a website, I don't charge for information, I don't benefit from anyway from hits to any website. I'm on record with my opinion that greed is ruining college football and that conference realignment is bad for the game we all love.

And I was warned many, many times not to write about expansion.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Is Jimbo Fisher Leaving FSU?

This is not about expansion; it’s not about Florida State actively seeking Big 12 membership or the drama within the Big 12 when they realized they could actually add FSU.

This is about the fallout coming from FSU’s internal battle between Jimbo Fisher and his supporters on the Board of Trustees and FSU President Eric Baron and the growing possibility that the head coach of one of the most storied programs in college football could leave that program for one struggling in the SEC.

It sounds crazy doesn’t it?

Why would Jimbo want to leave FSU? He has many reasons to stay and weather the storm including the home field advantage in recruiting the Seminoles enjoy in Florida.  Jimbo has the support of FSU’s most influential boosters and the ear of the Board of Trustees. 

Why then would he consider leaving?

It was Jimbo Fisher, fearful of the SEC’s cachet and money, who began the push for FSU to leave the ACC. It was Fisher’s primary benefactors, Jim Smith (Former Chair of FSU’s Board of Trustees) and Andy Haggard, who lead the charge to apply the pressure necessary for Baron to see a change in conference membership was necessary.

Baron resisted leaving the ACC and used the Big 12’s own internal power struggle over expansion to solidify his support on the Board of Trustees and worked with the ACC to bring Notre Dame into the conference as a partial member.

Baron felt that Notre Dame would restore the luster of the ACC and help bridge the gap between the ACC revenues and those of the SEC, Big 12, Big 10 and Pac 12.

Fisher’s primary concern was his football program and he felt the Big 12 offered FSU a brighter future even with Notre Dame as partial member.

Fisher and his supporters pointed out the ACC’s shiny new relationship with Notre Dame helps the Irish far more than it does the ACC.

How does 1 home game with Notre Dame every 6 years benefit FSU?  Doesn’t Notre Dame’s partial membership just provide the Irish with more exposure in the fertile recruiting grounds of FSU?

Baron didn’t share Jimbo’s concerns. He was committed to the ACC and let it be known that football wasn’t his primary concern. Baron pointed out that the ACC granted FSU’s wish to go back to an 8 game conference schedule and Jimbo would have to be happy with that.

Jimbo was far from happy. His original fears concerning the disadvantage of playing of the ACC only grew worse when the Seminoles lost to North Carolina State. 

Jimbo understands what Baron does not -- ACC football does not have the creditability or respect of the four power conferences and the quality of their football is not even close.

The ACC doesn’t have a single BCS victory since the BCS system was implemented. It’s programs, with the exception of Virginia Tech, Clemson and FSU are not nationally respected as football powers. The ACC consistently loses out on recruiting battles with SEC schools and now, with West Virginia in the Big 12, the Mountaineers are a bigger recruiting threat than ever.

Now factor in the increased visibility Texas and Oklahoma  receive in the eastern U.S. due to WVU's Big 12 membership and the spectre of Notre Dame having the same once they become a partial member of the ACC. 

Fisher knows football and when he looks at the landscape in the ACC and the coming changes to college football he knows that even a storied program like FSU will have a hard time overcoming the anchor the stigma of ACC football puts on the Seminole’s championship football aspirations.

More importantly what concerns Fisher is his relationship with Baron and his new found understanding he may not get the support he needs from his administration to compete with the power conferences. 

Can Fisher count on Baron when FSU needs to match the SEC or Big 12 dollar for dollar? Can he afford to schedule enough challenging out of conference games to compensate for the ACC's poor reputation? 

Baron's actions tell Jimbo all he needs to know. 

And it’s that realization has lead  Jimbo Fisher to authorize his representatives to convey to both Auburn and Tennessee that he would be very interested in leading their football programs. 

WVU faced almost the identical situation in 2008 when Rich Rodriguez, still suffering from a devastating loss that kept WVU from the title game, wanted assurances from then WVU president Mike Garrison and former athletic director Eddie Pastilong that he would have all the resources he needed to pursue a national championship at WVU. 

Rodriguez left a meeting with Garrison disappointed that the president would not give him the support he felt the program needed and accepted the Michigan job shortly thereafter. 

Garrison made a mistake that set the Mountaineer program back several years and Eric Baron is about to make the same mistake.


Just because Fisher has authorized his representatives to speak with Auburn and Tennessee doesn't mean he will leave FSU. It only means he has concerns about the level of support his football program will receive from the Baron administration.

This isn't the first time Jimbo has contemplated leaving FSU. Jimbo's people reached out to West Virginia after Rodriguez's departure from WVU and made it known he had interest in coming to WVU. Fisher's $2.5 million buyout was the official reason Jimbo never made it to Morgantown but others inside WVU tell me that Fisher was offered and accepted the job before factions within WVU's foundation refused to honor the agreement to cover Fisher's buyout. 

Friday, August 24, 2012

The USADA Assassinates Lance Armstrong


Sadly Lance Armstrong will go on Oprah and admit he used PEDs. Lance is just a scapegoat. The real problem is professional cycling.

Imagine if the NCAA received all the money from television rights and ticket sales. Imagine if the NCAA kept all that money to itself and the schools that comprise the NCAA had to rely on sponsors to pay for equipment and scholarships. 

Suppose sponsorships and bowl winnings were the only source of revenue for Alabama, West Virginia, Florida State or Louisville. 

Sponsors only support winners and the pressure to field a championship-worthy team would be far greater than it is now. 

Now suppose football had a 25 game schedule and each game lasted 8 hours. 

The pressure to use performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) would be great. 

That's how it is in professional cycling. Only winners get sponsors and the sport is so physically demanding you can only win by using PEDs.

The first document cheating in the Tour De France was 1915. 

You can't blame the riders. You need to blame the Amaury Sports Organization that doesn't share profits with the riders and asks them to do superhuman feats of endurance. 

Lance used PEDs because everyone else was using PEDs. He did not cheat. He gained no advantage by using PEDs. He gained his advantage by perfecting periodic training and building an entire team around helping him win. 

Lance's training regime is legendary. His dedication is legendary and when he grew to be a legend the sport that he saved would have banned him for life for doing what cycling requires - using PEDS. 

His mission off the bike became too important to sacrifice to the Amaury Sports Organization's double standard. 

Lance inspired me. He inspired me to get on the bike and ride. He inspired millions and for that I will always be a fan and indebted to Lance Armstrong. 

Those in the United States who know nothing about professional cycling and the culture of pro cycling. They most likely have never ridden a bike in a race or experienced the pain that such effort produces. 

The ignorant have no right to criticize. Lance is a hero and if you don't want those LiveStrong bracelets I'll be more than happy to take them. 

Viva la Lance!


I write this because the first time I saw Lance Armstrong on a bike he was racing through the streets of Beckley, WV on the way to his first major win as a professional cyclist in the K-Mart Classic.

Now, 19 years later, Lance Armstrong has been stripped of 7 Tour De France Titles and banned for life. 

The USADA claims, that despite being the most tested athlete in the world without a single positive result, that Lance used performance-enhancing drugs.

Why? Because one man, Tavis Tygart, the head of the United States Anti Doping Agency (USADA), had a personal vendetta against Lance Armstrong. 

A vendetta that caused the USADA strong-armed several of Lance's former teammates into testifying they witnessed Armstrong use PEDs in return for reduced suspensions and immunity

The alternative for Armstrong’s former lieutenants at U.S. Postal and Discovery was a lifetime ban from professional cycling and the loss of their livelihood.

The USADA went one step further and  allegedly retested old blood samples taken from Armstrong when he was still racing professionally – blood that had been sitting on a shelf for years.

Yet there is no doubt in my mind that Lance used drugs. The entire peloton was using performance-enhancing drugs and for good reason.

The human body cannot endure racing over 2,000 miles in 21 days – not at the speeds attained in the modern Tour de France. 

It’s impossible to spend four hours climbing over the Alps and then do it over and over again without help.

That’s were the performance-enhancing drugs come into play.

The drugs help the cyclists breathe (by increasing red blood cells) and recover (testosterone).  They help them get over the mountains, burn through time-trials, and get back in the saddle the next day.

But let’s not confuse the matter here or discuss the culture of doping that has consumed professional cycling since the first Tour De France.

We shouldn’t even begin to address the pressure put on cyclists to dope by their teams and sponsors or mention the team doctors who help the cyclists “train”.

To go that route, to expose cycling’s dirty little secret, would be to point out that professional cycling has one set of rules for the public and another for the team training room.

And who in their right mind would mention that there is evidence that the International Cycling Union (UCI) secretly condoned Armstrong’s use of PEDS because the sport benefited from his reign as the king of the sports world.

It would be far to easy to punish teams and even fine sponsors for doping violations. Institutions like the USADA and WADA never consider that punishing doping at its source and suspending professional UCI licensed clubs would likely end the practice of doping very quickly. 

Instead they go after the cyclists themselves who find it hard to compete clean when their peers are using and they have constant pressure from management to push the envelope and win the spotlight for the team’s sponsors.

This is about how the USADA wrote their own rules and decided to punish Lance Armstrong despite the statue of limitations having expired. This is about the USADA coercing testimony by intimidation and the word of confirmed liars like Floyd Landis.

This is about how Armstrong never got the chance to defend himself or see the evidence against him.

This is about the USADA being used as a vehicle for revenge for Tavis Tygart.

Many of you will no doubt reject my arguments. Many will claim that Armstrong cheated. My response would be that the rules were written to be circumvented and Armstrong had zero competitive advantage for his alleged use of PEDs.

I believe he used PEDs and I have always assumed that to be a fact. 

Again, Armstrong was just keeping up with the pack. He, and every cyclist in the peloton, had to use PEDs or accept the fact they would never compete for the podium. 

Tavis Tygart and his ilk like to ignore the fact that Armstrong trained harder and was responsible for more cycling innovations than any other cyclist in history -- Innovations in training and technology that revolutionsed his sport.

Armstrong practically pioneered periodic training and the practice of selecting the team to help the captain win the yellow jersey.   

Cyclists like Armstrong and the host of others who have been found “guilty” of doping need to rebel against the USADA and WADA.

 They need to stand up for their right to earn a living and safely use whatever “supplements” they need to perform. 

Otherwise professional cycling needs to reel back the performance expectations placed on the riders and be prepared for less miles, less strenuous climbs, and slower speeds.

As for me I contact my congressional delegation and let them know I thought the actions of the USADA were un-American and I didn’t want my tax dollars used to support an organization that set its sights on one man and his legacy instead of focusing on curing the problem in cycling.

And maybe that’s what I find most distasteful about this whole incident. The USADA was more concerned about the assassination of Lance Armstrong than the problem of doping in professional cycling. 

Monday, July 16, 2012

Notre Doom


The curtain opens to reveal the "Wastelands of Purgatory" - a vast desert featuring bleak vistas of dull rocks where all of college football goes between seasons.

Enter stage left - an elderly man wearing a black, ten gallon hat. He is DeLOSS DODDS the athletic director of the University of Texas.


I have a confession. A confession, that in the telling, will  prove me an unlikable sort - petty, egotistical and vain.Yet, (PAUSE) I beg you to listen just the same as my words may strike home in the ears of like-minded souls who happen upon this telling and judge me less harshly than the multitudes who trudge upon the earth without ever tasting the sweet wine of power and glory. (DODDS removes his hat and continues to address the audience.)

A man, like myself, late in his years and fearful in the knowing that his end is much closer than his beginning, has the right to turn his thoughts to his legacy. He has the right, nay, nay, nay - the duty, to mint the terms applied to his name after his departure. And in this thinking - amidst the knowing - the man has the god-given right to plot and scheme his way to glory.

(DODDS replaces his hat upon his head and walks about the stage. He kneels and takes a handful of sand in his hand and lets it slip through his fingers.)

But what glory? To set astride the bovine juggernaut and navigate the chaotic waters to obtain the greatest riches ever known - is that not glory enough? To set the bovine upon the march of champions and see the quest delivered - is that not glory enough. I think not. I am only well thought-of -- not deified. The public, those admiring masses who think of the bovine as they would a god upon Mount Olympus and never question the direction of our thoughts or actions think well enough of me. Ay, they think well of me. As if I were some favorite uncle who happened upon their Christmas party with a small gift and fanciful tale to amuse them -- that will never do.

(DODDS stands and rubs his hands together in a worried gesture.)

They do not love me or think me grand and for that I must embark upon a quest to reveal their error and bestow upon my head a crown of glory.

(DODDS paces back and forth quickly franticly.)

But what device? What road must I travel to obtain this crown? What dragon must I slay?

(DODDS stops pacing and grows quiet.)

DELOSS DODDS I have an idea! Last year, at this time, our fellowship was broken. Our future was as bleak as Rich Rodriquez's heart, our doom was at hand... and it was at the feet of our great bovine empire that blame was laid. No thought to the jealousy of our brethren, no thought to greed that made them flee, and certainly no thought to the bovine sacrifice that kept the fellowship whole.  And now, one full year later, our fellowship is strong and profitable. What was weakness is now strength. (Pause.. Slower) But could be stronger. Our vast riches could be more bountiful, our fame could even eclipse the gods in Birmingham. If only I could catch the leprechaun and add his gold to our horde.

(DODDS looks left and sees someone in the distance. He takes one hand and uses it to shield his eyes from the sun.)

DELOSS DODDS Look! (Points to the left) Yonder is one Swofford. A man of considerable means and ruthless in his actions. In his pocket he has a talisman of great power. A symbol of the Seminole nation that imbues him with riches and tradition.  The leprechaun holds Swofford in high esteem and often has long talks with Swofford as they share rich wine and aged cheese. By separating Swofford from his Seminole sigil and placing the same within my own pocket I too could enthrall the leprechaun and together, with my own bovine appeal, make the leprechaun a member of our fellowship.

(Places his hands upon his hips and looks smug.)

But Swofford is as intelligent as he is ruthless. To ruse the man I must contrive a distraction and drive him to it and beyond.

(Again DODDS begins to pace.)

Ah ha! To engineer my ruse I'll need a foil. One of sound mind and solid reputation who will appeal to Swofford as one of his own. I'll set them one against the other and when Swofford is distracted by his machinations I'll take my prize. 

(DODDS removes his cowboy hat)

First I'll pen a letter to my most favorite lieutenant Bowlsby and set him against Swofford immediately. They, being of like minds and tastes, will become fast friends and soon Swofford will be at ease. And when he is at ease I will strike. Now on to plot and plan and set the events to action.

(Dodds replaces his hat and smiles broadly)

Watch now as I become the puppet master and Swofford and good lieutenant Bowlsby dance to my tune.


Don't Be Left Holding the Bag

On July 25th Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby will walk up the podium and give his inaugural “state of the conference address”.  He’s going to tell us that the Big 12 is in a position of strength and the future of the conference has never been brighter.

He’ll talk about the new television contract, the additions of WVU and TCU, the grant of rights and the partnership with the SEC.

You can bet that sometime during his address he’ll mention expansion and reiterate that the Big 12 is happy with 10 members.   

Happy isn’t exactly the word I would use… dysfunctional is far more accurate.

The only thing they can agree on is to disagree.

Texas is against expansion.

Oklahoma is against expansion.

WVU, TCU, Baylor, Kansas State, and Texas Tech want to expand. Why stop at 12 they say when we could have 16.  

Kansas and Iowa State are interested in expansion and support the concept but only if they get to play in a division that includes Texas.

And poor Oklahoma State is perhaps in the worst position of all – they have the opinion that not having a Big 12 championship game likely cost them a shot at the national title last year.  They support expansion but  for some odd reason they’ll vote with Oklahoma.

The Big 12 is  certainly dysfunctional and can’t decide what to do.

It’s that indecision, that disunity,  that will cost them in the long term.

All the Big 12 member institutions had better understand quickly that a united Big 12 is powerful and profitable.

They had better understand that a fractured Big 12 is about to pass up an opportunity to solidify their position as a power conference and put an end to the ACC.

The Big 12 could add FSU, Clemson, Maryland, Georgia Tech, Miami and Louisville tomorrow.  They could add them all or choose to expand only to 12 or 14, but the key point is I’m told they would all accept.

Yet instead of acting they bicker; instead of castrating the ACC they sit back and argue amongst themselves.

All are to blame. None should be spared.

Texas just may deserve a larger share of blame because of their single-minded pursuit of Notre Dame, but make no mistake the entire, Big 12 (including WVU) deserves the credit for not reaching out and taking advantage of a rare opportunity.

Consider this… You’ve read national reporters and pundits say that the Big 12 contract guarantees s a certain level of television revenue no matter who the Big 12 adds.  While that’s not exactly true (Notre Dame or FSU would add considerable value) what’s missed is the fact that the Big 12 could add 6 teams at one go without reducing annual revenue.

That my friends is a  license to steal from the television networks.

A license the Big 12 can’t seem to redeem.

Texas and Oklahoma need to understand they don’t have many options. The Big 12 is their home and they are best served to have a strong conference even if it means their voice becomes only 1 of 16.

Iwoa State needs to understand that FSU, Clemson and WVU will fill their stadium just as much, as the Longhorns.

And the rest of the conference, I’m looking at you especially Oklahoma State, needs to understand they have the votes to nullify anyone who stands in the way of expansion.

8-2 or 7-3 gets it done folks.

And… if they somehow don’t manage to see the error of their ways and pass up this opportunity… I can see a time when the ACC has a resurgence and the Big 12 is left holding the bag wondering where the hell all the Snipe went.


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Big 12 is About to Make a Big Mistake

What do Florida State, Clemson, Georgia Tech and Maryland  have in common? 

For starters they are all hallowed institutions from the ACC with national championships in either football or basketball. They are also respected academic institutions and boast large TV markets, a solid recruiting base, and the desire to field championship level teams.

But they have one more thing in common – they all want out of the ACC and into the Big 12.

That’s right; the Big 12 could have Florida State and any one of the other three or the Big 12 could think bold and take all four.

Yet the Big 12 isn’t likely to expand anytime soon and the reason is Notre Dame.

The Big 12 has decided not to extend invitations to FSU, Clemson or anyone else until Notre Dame makes it future conference home known. 

New Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby and Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds both think the Irish are close to joining the Big 12 as associate members and will follow later as a full member.

WVU doesn’t believe that. WVU has years of experience as a member of the beleaguered Big East and watched as Notre Dame sat on the sidelines and let the Big East fall apart.

Notre Dame could have saved the Big East at any point. The Irish could have kept Virginia Tech, Miami and Boston College from leaving during the first round of ACC expansion and they could have kept Pittsburgh and Syracuse from leaving last year.

The Irish did nothing and that’s just what they will do now. 

I have no doubt that Jack Swarbrick is offering Bowlsby and Dodds assurances about Notre Dame. I have no doubt Swarbrick has told both men Notre Dame is Big 12 bound. 

The problem is I have no doubt that Swarbrick is giving John Swofford the same assurances.

Bowlsby and Dodds are making the mistake of believing Notre Dame. 

They don't know Notre Dame like WVU knows Notre Dame.

Both Bowlsby and Dodds are extremely intelligent men and proven leaders. Such men are not prone to fantasy or wishful thinking and not likely to have the wool pulled over their eyes by Notre Dame, but now it appears the Irish have hoodwinked the Big 12.  

Notre Dame is lying to them while trying to work out better deals with both the ACC and NBC. 

Perhaps Bowlsby and Dodds are blinded by thoughts of their legacies and what it would mean to land the Fighting Irish. Whatever motivates them to pander to Notre Dame they should remember just how fragile the conference was a year ago.

And while they sit and wait for Notre Dame the clock is about to expire on an opportunity of a life-time. 

It's clear that the Irish prefer the ACC. It's clear that the only way the ACC would offer Notre Dame an associate membership is to keep FSU and Clemson from defecting. 

It's clear to WVU that had the Big 12 extended the invitations to FSU and Clemson a month ago that Notre Dame wouldn't even be listening to John Swofford right now. 

Adding Florida State and Clemson to the Big 12  cripples the ACC and permanently secures the future of the Big 12.

FSU and Clemson could be the biggest prize in the expansion contest and the Big 12 is in serious danger of blowing a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Every day the Big 12 fails to invite FSU and Clemson is a day John Swofford uses to solidify his conference and  entice Notre Dame to join. 

I understand the Big 12’s desire to add Notre Dame – I get it. What I don’t get is how the Big 12 can gamble their future on a sucker bet.

The Irish will never join a conference as full member unless they are forced to do so. But by inviting FSU and Clemson now, the Big 12 can eliminate the ACC as a viable home for the Irish. 

Supposedly the Big 12 is dead set on not expanding past 12. That's a foolish position given what's at stake and who's interested. It's even more foolish to think Notre Dame will join the Big 12 as a full member. 

In West Virginia we have something called a “Snipe Hunt”. The hunt is actually ruse for the gullible.  As legend has it the Snipe is small, fast, flightless, pheasant like bird found in the deep woods of West Virginia.

A Snipe hunt has “drivers” and “holders”.

The “holders” are taken into the woods and given small cloth bags and instructed to hide in the brush and wait while the more experienced “Drivers” chase the birds in their direction. When the birds come running towards them the “bag holders” are supposed to catch the birds in their bags.

Guess what happens next? The “Drivers” drive off and leave the “holders” stranded deep in the woods holding the bag.

I can only guess that it will be the Big 12 left holding the bag If Bowlsby and Dodds keep chasing Notre Dame.


Before anyone jumps on Texas you should remember that it was Texas that made the necessary concessions to keep the Big 12 together and put the conference in the position of strength it enjoys today.

Each and every member of the Big 12 must share the responsibility of the Notre Dame “Snipe Hunt” and direct Bowlsby to act on Florida State and Clemson before its too late.

There is still time if the Big 12 forgets about Notre Dame and acts quickly.

The Big 12 has been counseled by the SEC on the horrors of 14 members and the scheduling problems that result from expansion. It could be the SEC  would prefer the ACC to stay intact to keep the Big 10 from establishing a footprint in SEC territory. 

One Final Thing

I've worked hard trying to find out the reasons for the delay the past few weeks and time and time again the answer was Notre Dame. But there was one other answer...

One very credible source told me the current Big 12 contract was written when Colorado and Nebraska were still in the conference and doesn't have a provision to pay additional money for FSU and Clemson. The Big 12's TV partners agreed to honor the existing contract written for 12 and pay the same amount of money to 10 members. Adding FSU and Clemson for 2013 would then reduce the amount paid out to Big 12 schools. My thoughts are that adding institutions as valuable as  FSU and Clemson would pay, but I understand that contracts can be reopened unless their is expansion beyond the number of members when it was signed. Even with that said the potential to add 4 ACC schools would significantly up the dollar amount of the Big 12 contract.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

How the ACC Can Save the ACC.

 I know how John Swofford can save the ACC.

I know how John Swofford can end the debate and silence all the criticism of his conference.


Swofford can end all the discussion and debate, end the battering the ACC is taking in the Tallahassee Democrat and Forbes, just by releasing the details of the new television deal with ESPN.

There are those who feel the ACC is just doing a terrible job at public relations. They believe the ACC is just above the fray and feels no need to comment more than what Swofford has done by refusing to discuss “hypotheticals”.

Those who feel that way should know that sometimes silence is consent. 

If what I’ve been told about the ACC contract with ESPN is true then the ACC is far better off by remaining silent than by making the situation worse with any attempt at clarification.

A Confederacy of Dunces

Just a short week ago I promised myself I would not act as the media’s ombudsman but a recent posting by Chadd Scott has me riled up enough to address his article on

In a piece titled “Lies & Ignorance Continue to Fuel Desire of Many FSU & Clemson Fans to Ditch ACC” Scott lists five “lies” to make the point that he is smarter than the FSU and Clemson administrations.

Lie #1 – Andy Haggard’s statements were 100% false about the ACC TV contract.

Andy Haggard’s statements may have factually challenged on some issues but the underlying message of his rant was accurate and should not be ignored by those like Mr. Scott who prefer to interpret statements in the manner that best support their opinion.

Haggard’s message was that FSU is not happy with the ACC television contract and  they are not happy with the ACC’s leadership.  They are not happy that ACC member institutions like Duke and Wake Forest earn the same amount of TV money as FSU without sharing FSU’s commitment to playing championship football.

Scott’s assertions that the factually incorrect portions of Haggard’s statements are improperly influencing fans to support FSU’s exit from the ACC is incorrect as well.

Scott obviously didn’t spend much time researching his point because Haggard’s statements have fallen off the radar.

Lie #2 – The ACC’s contract is Industry Standard.

Scott cites a generic press release from ESPN addressing the back-loading of the ACC TV contract. What he does not address, nor does ESPN, is the number of years added onto the existing TV contract before the revenue increases begin to manifest.

Many people with knowledge of the contract say that the ACC “gave up more for less than any conference in the history of college football.”

Lie #3 – The ACC values football as much as basketball and neither UNC or Duke get preferential treatment.

Anyone who makes the argument that the ACC isn’t a basketball centric league needs to rethink his or her position. It is much better for the ACC to be thought of as a basketball oriented conference than to be labeled as “inept” in college football.

The idea that the ACC values football as much as basketball is so fantastical that the only credible counterpoint  is the decades long success of Virginia Tech. The success of Virginia Tech as a national power has had more to do with Tech’s reputation as a football power in the old Big East and weak scheduling in the ACC than any success on the gridiron.

And if you doubt me consider the ACC’s BCS bowl record.

As for preferential treatment... what were those additional sanctions given to UNC by the ACC again?

Lie #4 – The financial disparity between the ACC and Big 12 is not great enough to entice FSU or Clemson to move.

Do you believe FSU (or Clemson) would leave the ACC for $3 million dollars? I don't and neither should you.

Scott states the article by Dennis Dodd as proof his belief  but fails to mention the article by Dodd was interpreted by many to say that the Big 12 was guaranteed their average payout would not be less than $20 million per team no matter who they added.

Scott fails to consider that both FSU and Clemson would vastly improve the Big 12’s available T1 and T2 programming and he failed to pick up on a recent quote by interim Big 12 commissioner Chuck Neinas where he appended “or more” onto his statement about the Big 12’s contract.

The gap will be between $6 and $9 million and could be as much as $10 despite what the selective quotes Mr. Scott decides to take out of context. 

However, just for giggles, let’s say the Big 12’s contract is $20 million and that the ACC’s contract is $13 million (once the ACC’s full share is deducted) for a period of 5 to 7 years – that’s a gap of $7 million per year and $35 million over a 5 year period (the window for the contract look-in for the ACC comes after 5 years).

Lie #5 – The ACC will be included, with equal opportunity, in the new playoff system.

Again, its  just fantastical that Scott fails to accurately assess the landscape of college football and actually makes this assertion.

The Big 4 have chosen their dancing partners and the ACC wasn’t invited.

The absolute best the ACC can do is have their champion play the second or third team from one of the  power conferences – does that sound like the ACC is included?

At least Scott didn’t make the infantile argument that the ACC provides an easier road to the playoffs due to lack of competition (see Lie #3) because we all know how well that worked for the Big East, ACC and Conference USA.

Just how ignorant is Chadd Scott to expect us to believe his drivel?

The big lie is that writers like Chadd Scott didn’t see this coming and refuse to accept the new reality that FSU and Clemson are headed to the Big 12.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

So It’s A Done Deal?

Yesterday I made a mistake. I wrote that Clemson was a “done deal” to the Big 12 and although it may be a matter of semantics my friend at WVU took issue with my choice of words.

“It is not a done deal,” he said. “An agreement in principal is not a done deal.”

“Until the contract is signed and the press conference is over it’s not a done deal” he continued.

So I asked exactly “what” it was.

Clemson and the Big 12 have exchanged financial information, projected schedules and revenue estimates.  They have reached an agreement on all substantial issues.

Clemson wants the Big 12 and the Big 12 wants Clemson, but the process must play out.

The Tigers are waiting patiently for the FSU endgame and the ACC’s reaction. They’re content to let the Seminoles be the icebreaker and blaze the way out of the beleaguered conference.

It’s expected that the Big 12  will discuss both Clemson and FSU in the next league meeting and there’s a belief that the Big 12 will invite FSU and Clemson to become the 11th and 12th members.

At that point the “done deal” becomes a matter of signing the paperwork and holding the press conference.

It is believed FSU’s move to the Big 12 is inevitable. They’ve made statements that ruffled feathers at Duke and UNC and made every football-centric member nervous. They’ve made their distrust of the conference known and stated their disgust with the ACC TV contract.

FSU is much closer to the mythical “done deal” than Clemson but the Tigers are willing to follow in their footprints.

Friday, May 11, 2012

One Last Argument

Here’s the deal…

The arguments are getting old.

The ACC apologists like Chadd Scott, whom I actually respect and enjoy his articles, can’t seem to grasp what’s really going on with their beloved ACC.

They can’t accept that the Big 12 could be an attractive option for cash-starved institutions in the ACC. 

And I can understand why. Last year the Big 12 was on the brink of collapse. We all thought that Oklahoma, Texas, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech were headed to the Pac 12.

It didn’t happen, and what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger right?

Now a year later and the Big 12 is solid, bound together by a grant-of-rights that will make sure everybody stays put and plays nice. They have a new commissioner, a new TV deal that will likely surprise everyone with the actual numbers, and a new found sense of cooperation.

And they’re on the hunt -- hungry for new TV markets and armed with the shared goal of eclipsing the vaunted SEC for the title of best damn football conference in the land.

This is not last year’s Big 12.

But ACC apologists can’t shake the stereotype of a dysfunctional Big 12 held together by spit and prayers.

So it’s no surprise they’re about to get blindsided.

The first argument they use is academics. “I’ll give you three reasons why FSU would never join the Big 12 – academics, academics and academics” they argue.

I wrote yesterday about how conference affiliation doesn’t affect academics or the research money a university receives.

Today I’ll go one step further and tell you the one thing that can harm both academics and athletics – money.

Florida State University  is good example. The state of Florida hasn’t escaped the economic downturn and the support provided to state schools like FSU isn’t as generous as it once was. As a result state schools are forced to increase tuition to cover the shortfall.

Just last month Florida Governor Rick Scott, no relation to Chadd Scott I hope, voted a bill that would have granted both FSU and UF the ability to raise tuition at will. 

Does it sound like FSU is in the position to financially support an athletic department that’s losing money?

ACC apologist don’t seem to understand that endowments and state funding are intended to support the academic mission of the school. It’s possible for schools like FSU to divert funds from one account to another and use those funds to supplement their athletic department but academics suffer as a result.

FSU is in a tough spot. Faced with the prospect of a reduction in state funding and a budget deficient of $2.4 million in the athletic department they are forced to choose between academics and athletics.

I wonder how those parroting “academics, academics, academics” will react if money intended for academics programs instead goes to cover up weak leadership in the ACC?

How is the ACC responsible for the shortfall at FSU you ask?

How is it that the ACC, the conference that boasts the footprint with the greatest population density, has the worst TV contract of all the major conferences?

Consider this ACC fans... Iowa State, Washington State, Arizona, Arizona State, WVU, Kansas and a host of other schools earn more from TV revenues than FSU, Clemson, VPI, Maryland, Miami and Georgia Tech. 

Now tell me who is responsible?

ACC apologists also forget the link to on the field performance and donations. Have a good year on the gridiron and donations are likely to increase – have a bad year and donations decline.

Let me repeat the salient fact… have a bad year and donations for academics and athletics decline and both suffer.

The link between academics and athletics at a major university is undeniable and to give only once side of the argument without stating the other is inexcusable in my opinion.

Another popular argument is that ACC schools have such large endowments that the TV money doesn’t matter.


The argument that TV money doesn’t mean much in the grand scheme doesn’t hold much water either.

North Carolina’s higher education system suffered a budget reduction of $1 billion last year that had many at UNC calling for reductions in athletic spending to cover the shortfall. As a result UNC reduced the athletic department’s budget and I’m told football took the brunt of the funding cuts.

The point is that institutions like FSU, UNC and WVU would never use endowments to support intercollegiate athletics and when outside funding (i.e. state funding) is reduced athletic departments are the first to feel the pain.

ACC apologists like to argue the fact that the gap between the ACC and Big 12 TV revenues isn’t that much.

Effectively ACC schools will receive $16 million per school for those media rights.

Early reports on the Big 12 contract have them at about $20 million but don’t be surprised if the number is in the neighborhood of $22 million when its released.

That’s a gap of between $4 and $6 million without factoring in the additional money the Big 12 will receive from a championship game.

And it doesn’t count the value added of the addition of new TV markets from expansion.

Let’s say, just for the sake of argument, that the Big 12 receives the same $2 million bump the ACC received from adding Pittsburgh and Syracuse.

Now the gap is between $6 million and $8 million.

Now tell me with a straight face that TV markets in Florida, South Carolina, Maryland or Georgia aren’t worth more than those in Pittsburgh and Syracuse.

When everything is said and done the real gap could be greater than $10 million per year – without factoring in what FSU or Clemson could get for their own T3 rights on the open market.

Travel expenses you say?

WVU estimated only an increase of $1 million for travel for all sports.

How much would that travel budget be reduced if the Big 12 had an Eastern Division?

The last argument ACC apologists use is that the ACC is a much easier path to the BCS playoffs.

Not if some type of RPI is used.

Let’s compare two teams with equal records from the ACC and Big 12. Both are conference champions and both have a 12-1 record. The Big 12 team has played a tougher schedule and has an RPI of 4. The ACC team has an RPI of 25.

Guess which one goes to the playoff?

Just like in basketball the RPI just doesn’t grade your schedule; it also takes into account the schedules of all the teams you have played.

The RPI is unforgiving -- one member who underperforms and has a bad loss can drag down every member of the conference.  And, to make it worse, a weak schedule full of cupcakes can drag down the conference.

Even ACC apologists admit that Big 12 football is superior to ACC football. So which conference do you believe will have the higher RPI year in and year out?

Yet the decision to leave or not will be made based on simple economics. 

FSU is in financial trouble and they’re not the only one. I’m told that both Maryland and Miami have significant funding issues and the new ACC TV contract didn’t do nearly enough to give them the financial boast they needed.

Enter the Big 12.


I don’t really see the point in countering all the arguments made by ACC apologists who can’t put aside their bias and take a look at what’s really happening.

A resolution will be quick. If any ACC school is going to jump it will have to be before the ACC’s August deadline for notification of intent to withdraw.

We’ll know one way or the other by the end of July,  if FSU and Clemson don’t jump by then its not happening. 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Hubris of the ACC

Earlier this year I had the chance to sit down with the infamous Chadd Scott, Atlanta radio personality and author of “College Football’s Most Dangerous Blog”, to discuss conference realignment and the outlandish notion that two ACC schools were in active discussions with the Big 12.

Chadd’s opinion was that blog posts suggesting ACC schools were contemplating leaving the ACC were ludicrous.

He vehemently denied that any ACC school would denigrate itself by considering membership in another conference.

Scott went on to say that he believed the chatter about Clemson and FSU originated from West Virginia fans trying to make themselves feel better about WVU’s rejection by the ACC.

His reaction didn't surprise me. 

It was typical of ACC supporters who refuse to accept the conference has leadership problems and out-dated beliefs that basketball is king.

ACC apologists like Scott can’t grasp that the ACC's basketball centric philosophy is a problem. They can’t accept that NCAA violations at UNC and Miami harmed the reputation of ACC football.  They can’t accept that Pittsburgh and Syracuse were added as a “basketball correction” to the last round of football-driven expansion.

Scott made the argument that Pitt and Syracuse would enhance ACC football, but  just a causal glance at each program’s performance in the last 10 years shows  that both have been in decline.

Undoubtedly Pitt and Syracuse are basketball-first schools. Basketball is valued more at both institutions and that’s why they were selected for expansion instead of West Virginia or Louisville.

The ACC's actions left little doubt of their (basketball) priorities when  Swofford made the conscious decision to strengthen basketball knowing ACC football would be weakened as a result.

ACC apologist argue that Pitt and Syracuse will rebound and their football programs will soon return to glory. If you believe that I have some ocean-side property in Morgantown for sale.

ACC membership harmed Boston College's football program and even the once powerful Miami Hurricanes have been brought low since joining the ACC.  You can also make the argument that Virginia Tech has regressed since leaving the Big East and now relies on weak scheduling and reputation to earn BCS berths.

The ACC is 2-13 in the last 14 years in BCS bowl games and managed to lose twice this year after VPI  scheduled their way into a Sugar Bowl loss. That's 14 years of embarrassing performances that earns the ACC the title of the nation's worst major football conference.

To illustrate just how bad ACC football has been consider the much maligned Big East won 4 BCS bowl games within the last 7 years. Even worse for the ACC is the fact that the team they rejected as being unworthy of ACC membership  (WVU) has won more BCS bowl games in the last 7 years (3) than the entire ACC in the last 14.

The sad fact that continues to escape ACC apologists is the level of competition in the ACC is far below what it needs to be for any ACC team to contend for a national title.

So why is it so far fetched that two ACC schools, who clearly value football more than basketball, would reach out to the second best (and it’s a very close second) football conference in the land?

The leadership in place at FSU and Clemson understand what Swofford and his puppet masters at UNC can’t – football has eclipsed college basketball as the driving force in college athletics.

They understand that population base  and TV markets matter little when the product on the field is so poor.  They understand that the ACC isn't going to wipe away 14 years of BCS embarrassment by adding Pittsburgh and Syracuse or have any chance to compete on a national level if the conference continues to make decisions that favor basketball over football. 

Clemson and FSU look at the SEC and see a conference comprised of mostly small TV markets and how the quality of their football demands  top dollar in television revenue and they openly question the direction of the conference.

Yet Swofford turns a deaf ear to their pleas. 

And as much as it may shock my ACC friends Clemson and FSU aren’t the only ACC schools shopping around.

Internal conflicts aside (Frank Beamer), Virginia Tech has had discussions with the SEC. The same can be said for North Carolina State (although they would need UNC’s permission to leave) and Maryland has shown interest in the Big 12.

ACC apologists like Chadd Scott don’t see the problems. They can’t accept the fact that the conference is repeating the mistakes that lead to 6 schools to leave the Big East for greener pastures.

And as for Clemson and FSU: ACC apologists had better get used to the fact that, unless something drastic happens, both will be gone. 

But maybe that’s what John Swofford and UNC want – a basketball first conference without the annoying distraction of a few football-centric schools.