Swofford speaks out on realignment, the ACC TV contract and college football

by - Senior Writer -

GREENSBORO, N.C. – ACC Commissioner John Swofford held court Friday afternoon at the ACC Baseball Championships in Greensboro, and he granted TigerNet a special one-on-one interview to talk about conference realignment, the state of the ACC football contract and other topics.

This was not a planned interview, and he didn’t have time to sit down and plan out his answers, but he didn’t back down from any of the questions that were asked and was especially candid on many of them.

One thing is for certain: Swofford and the Atlantic Coast Conference are following the escalating events in the world of college athletics and college football. Many media outlets have speculated, especially since it was announced last week that the SEC and Big 12 had signed a post-season bowl agreement, which the ACC and Big East would be left out of any postseason talk or a four-team playoff.

Swofford disagreed, and said that ACC was actually part of five major conferences, a group that includes the SEC, the Big 12, the Pac-12 and the Big 10.

“We’re not going to be left out of playoff considerations in terms of the BCS,” Swofford said. “The real challenge with the BCS is that it’s not just a simple vote. It has to be a consensus of the group and the major conferences. The five of us are the ones that need to come to some consensus, because that’s -relative to the other conferences- what drives the value. Here’s why….If you go back the last 20 years and you look at the top four teams that would have played in a four team playoff, which is what is being discussed,79 of those 80 teams came from the five conferences. That’s what drives the value in the post-season and the ACC a very sound part of that with those teams going forward.”

And of course that means the ACC has to perform better on a national stage, according to Swofford.

“We have not over the last decade. In the late 1990s and the early 2000s, teams that are currently in our league- Florida St., Miami, Virginia Tech- did very well. The last 10 years, we haven’t done as well, particularly our best teams. I think we’ve probably had more depth in our league than we’ve ever had, but in terms of our best teams being in the national championship picture at the end of the season we just haven’t done as well as we need to do or want to do. We need to continue to build our football because it’s so valuable to us and valuable going forward.”

Here is a little more of our question and answer session.

TN: How closely are you following the events of the last week, especially all of the rumors that certain schools within your conference would entertain leaving?

JS: I think we’ve found that over the last several years, that [conference realignment] is a subject that creates a lot of rumors and a lot of people have an opinion about, and with social media being what it is in today’s world- we’ve always had rumors- but now there’s a platform for those rumor to spread more quickly and sometimes those are very unfounded and have no basis or truth or fact, necessarily. What we deal with is our governing body, which is basically the presidents and the athletic directors at the individual institutions. We’ve got a group of people at that level that I think are extremely trustworthy and truthful with each other. Throughout our league, at that level what comes to us is totally positive in terms of their affirmation and commitment to the ACC.”

TN: So you have heard from Clemson in that regard?

JS: It continues to be consistently very positive across the board.

TN: So what comes to mind when you hear someone like David Wilkins, Clemson’s Chairman of the Board of Trustees, say that Clemson would listen to what other conferences have to say?

JS: I interpret that as leadership at any institution, being open-minded as to what’s best for the institution.

TN: Regarding the recently signed television deal, how do you react to all of the negative press that deal has received?

JS: Free speech is alive and well in the United States of America, first of all. There was just fundamental, basic misinformation at that point. That was disturbing in the sense that you then have to correct that and hopefully that has been the case.

TN: How do you fix that “misinformation?”

JS: You just keep hammering away at that. The information is out there, at all of our institutions and the problem is sometimes trying to compare apples-to-apples in terms of the media deals because they are all a little different, all conferences operate a little differently. You have to make sure that you are comparing the same years, number one. Number two, an example of the differences are what some conferences pull in- the Pac 12 took the institutional multi-media rights from the institutions. We don’t do that. That’s left in the hands of the individual institutions. That’s about on average in our league probably four-and-a-half or five million a year. Another difference that makes it hard to compare is that our league pass all championship expenses. In other words, schools that here for the baseball tournament- Clemson doesn’t pay for that. The Atlantic Coast Conference does. That goes for all of the other schools. On average, that’s another $600,000 that they don’t pay, but we do. That’s the same thing as a revenue share. I think some of the information that gets out there doesn’t really take into account those kinds of situations which has a tendency to, at least in our case, even things out. Another example is the Pac 12, they are taking money back from the schools that is given from initial rights fees to try and invest some money into trying to create some channels. In our situation, we studied that very diligently with the help of our television consultants at IMG Wasserman. We collectively concluded that at this point and time, going that route was not an investment that we wanted to make and that we were more comfortable going with ESPN and having all of our revenues totally guaranteed for the full amount of our contract and it’s term and have the opportunity during that term to consider a potential channel with ESPN as we move forward. That’s why we have a five-year look-in, a 10-year look-in. So, this contract has incredible exposure for our conference. No conference in the country will have better exposure on the platforms that we are on which are 15 of ESPN’s platforms- whether it’s by phone or traditional television, ESPN in three to five years will be just like a television channel with the smart televisions that are coming out. All of that is kind of future oriented and it also positions us extraordinarily well if and when- and it’s probably when- we go to more of a subscription based television because of our markets up and down the east coast. In terms of exposure, the dollars are outstanding. You can say, ‘ok somebody has a few more’, but then you have to start looking at things like championship expenses and whether our schools are having to put money back in to invest, whether our schools have access to the institutional multimedia and so forth. So, all of that has to come into play. It’s not nearly as simple as people would lead you to believe.

TN: Would the ACC consider another round of expansion?

JS: I think we have to wait and see. I think anyone would realize that if Notre Dame wanted to join a conference as a full member, we would be interested and other conferences would be interested as well. They have continued to hold onto their commitment to being independent in football and looking for a home for their other sports which currently reside in the Big East. I don’t know if that will change or not. Our conference and our schools have consistently felt in the past that our conference needed to be a conference where you are fully in or you’re not in at all. Whether that will change, we’ll just have to see going forward. I don’t think further expansion is out of the question, but I wouldn’t put it out as a front-burner issue either.

TN: Is it true that Texas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Oklahoma St. asked about joining the ACC a year ago when the Big 12 was in so much turmoil?

JS: There were talks- in a general sense. That conference obviously had some real challenges a year ago. A lot of things could have happened that didn’t. A lot of things were rumored to be happening that didn’t and so I think that some of their schools were reaching out to protect themselves going forward if they needed to look at other homes. I’ll keep it in general terms in that stance.

TN: How do you respond to the criticism that as a graduate of UNC, your first interest is to protect not only UNC but the basketball schools in general?

JS I think first of all, every expansion of this conference since I’ve been in the commissioner’s chair has been done with the fact that football and markets are extremely important to our future. Number two, I played football in this league. Nobody wants the Atlantic Coast Conference to be as good as it can possibly be than me. It’s a sport that I played in college, a sport that I loved, and I played it in this conference so anyone that knows me very well knows of my commitment to the sport of football and without question beyond that simple love of football and the desire for the sport to be the best that it can be throughout- top to bottom. The business importance of it is extremely important. You don’t do this day in and day out and not understand that. We’ve done this for a number of years and that’s precisely why our league expanded the first go around bringing in Virginia Tech and Miami and Boston College.

TN: Clemson Athletic Director Terry Don Phillips told me last week that perhaps as much as 80 percent of the new television deal involves football. Is that correct?

JS: I think that’s probably accurate. That’s what the television executives would tell us. That’s what our consultants would tell us. And, that’s changed over the years. If you go back 20 years- particularly in our league- you would find that probably pretty equal in terms of what television was paying for- basketball relative to football. It would be pretty close to 50/50 at that time. In today’s world of television, it’s higher than that. It’s 75 percent or 80 percent.

TN: I know you have heard about the purported role you played in Clemson’s extra year of probation in the early 80’s and read the story we ran on it. What is your response and did that surprise you?

JS: It did surprise. I had never heard that- ever- until I was doing an interview on the radio and the individual asked me about it and I honestly didn’t know what he was talking about until we finished the interview and I asked him, ‘what are you talking about? I don’t know what you are talking about.’ I don’t know how long that had been around, but I have never heard that before.

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Subject (Replies: 54) Author
Front Page Story: Swofford speaks out on realignment, the ACC TV contract and college football
swoffie seems delusional***
Re: Front Page Story: Swofford speaks out on realignment, the ACC TV contract and college football
case and point...
Still wanna make him an offer for the Ron Cherry remote.
Screw you, Swofford.***
Re: Front Page Story: Swofford speaks out on realignment, the ACC TV contract and college football
Re: Front Page Story: Swofford speaks out on realignment, the ACC TV contract and college football
Re: Front Page Story: Swofford speaks out on realignment, the ACC TV contract and college football
exactly if those three come calling...
Re: exactly if those three come calling...
Alabama and ND tried to get in the ACC?***
Is that a joke?
My response was to this comment.
Re: exactly if those three come calling...
Re: exactly if those three come calling...
Somebody in the ACC levied Clemson with the extra year.Liar***
Re: Somebody in the ACC levied Clemson with the extra year.Liar***
Swoffie running scared...trying to save his precious legacy
Great interview David... even more impressive that
Re: Front Page Story: Swofford speaks out on realignment, the ACC TV contract and college football
Syracuse was invited, not VPI
swoffie is a fish eyed fool***
big head
It is time to go!
I learned one thing for sure.
What did he lie about?***
Joe, you completely missed my point.
Good advice.***
Wow, he really has his head way up his own a$$***
Did Swofford "take the fifth"?
One, two, three, four, FIFFFF!!!***
JS: "The Fifth Amendment is alive and well????"
Re: JS: "The Fifth Amendment is alive and well????"
Re: JS: "The Fifth Amendment is alive and well????"
Re: JS: "The Fifth Amendment is alive and well????"
Wish David Hood asked about the Raycom Conflict of interest
Why no question on the 9 conf. game schedule and how much
G to G
What else would anyone expect him to say????
Once again, the real story of what's going on is always
Completely Solid Orange®
Yea people have an irrational hate of this guy.***
Kinda' Sorta' Backs Up What Swofford Is Saying....
you don't tell me what to do!***
Re: Kinda' Sorta' Backs Up What Swofford Is Saying....
Re: Front Page Story: Swofford speaks out on realignment, the ACC TV contract and college football
Re: Front Page Story: Swofford speaks out on realignment, the ACC TV contract and college football
This article is posted like....
Prime T. Tiger
Re: Front Page Story: Swofford speaks out on realignment, the ACC TV contract and college football
I see that I am one of the few...
Your comment is about 60 yrs
Not really...it's just talk. No Clemson decisions have...
Re: Not really...it's just talk. No Clemson decisions have...
Re: I see that I am one of the few...
Fat Tony
90% of the responses in this thread ain't exactly Mensa

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