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. 


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. Yes. When you break it down the ACC is really only a 5 team football conference. VT, Clemson, GT, Miami, FSU. In all fairness, occasionally MD, UNC, VA, or NC State has a decent football product, but this is a league that is basketball first and the football performance is lackluster.

    The tobacco road leadership is very basketball centered. That kind of thinking is to blame for the destruction of the Big East, and it might do serious damage to the ACC as well.

  3. well written piece ... I have been clamoring for WVA to be invited to the ACC since we first expanded (in place of BC) ... would have made it it a much stronger conference in basketball and football. Swofford is single-handedly destroying this conference. Clemson Tiger alum (and also long time UV fan). Fire Swofford and get someone in here who knows how to adapt to the ever changing landscape of college athletics that is being driven by FOOTBALL and TV markets!

  4. as a Tiger alum/fan, another concern is that our President is more concerned with the subjective national academic rankings from one of the major organization like US news & World Report, etc. I believe that President Barker is under Swofford's thumb, and that he will not allow us to leave the ACC. My worst fear is that FSU and Miami (or GT) leave the ACC, and we are left out. Once another expansion happens I thoroughly believe that VT will be invited to the SEC, and while the VA govt may try and get involved (re. UVA), I don't see how they could turn down that offer, they are football first, just like Clemson and FSU. Swofford is deluding himself if he thinks ND will join the ACC.

    1. You would be surprised how much success in sports affects academics. The Presidents are the ones who make these decisions and its always about money. You can be assured that Clemson's president understands that donations (including academic donations) are closely tied to the football program. If Clemson lets the football program wither on the vine it won't be too long before the academic sides is forced to drink bitter wine.

    2. September 12, 2012: Chadd Scott and the truth win.

  5. I bet 5 years later this blog entry hurts.

    ACC is top of the football world while WVU and the Big XII are imploding.