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 chuckoliver.net.

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.