ACC

It’s All About The Money

By: Robert Craft

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

I believe the official date for Clemson and FSU to inform the ACC of their intended departures for the 2025 season would be Aug. 15.

So, that would mean we would either have some form of resolution in court by then, which is not likely considering how it affects conferences across college football. The only other option, which is more likely, would be to settle out of court.

If it’s the latter, and FSU and Clemson part ways, ESPN will smartly decide in February not to pick up its ACC TV package through 2036.

That would send the ACC into Pac-12 territory, forcing it to sign a cheaper TV deal beyond 2027 (without its two megastars) or a straight-up league breakup in which some could end up fleeing to the Big 12 or even forming a new league.

My guess is there will be a group of ACC schools not getting into the SEC,  Big Ten, or Big 12.  The remaining teams will want to stick together in some form and take a cheaper TV deal to remain “mid-majors.”

We can sit here and debate which schools those are, or you can simply look at TV ratings and TV markets for the past few years and put two and two together.

Either way, not everyone is getting an invite to the Big 2 or a Super League. If FSU or Clemson has to spend a few years in purgatory (the Big 12) to get to the SEC or Big Ten, they’ll do it to get out of having to stick around in the ACC through 2036.

I just don’t think we’re going to see a 24-team Big Ten or a 24-team SEC down the road. Remember, the SEC’s TV deal runs with ESPN through 2033-34 and the Big Ten’s deal runs with CBS, NBC and Fox through 2029-30.

There’s no incentive for the schools in those leagues to add any more schools when they’ve got such a huge financial advantage in college football, unless they’re competing to sign top “free agent” schools such as FSU and Clemson or another school they value like North Carolina.

That essentially leaves the other ACC programs behind to come up with a solution to remain relevant and fund their athletic programs. The ACC will not completely fold.

Wait, I love this idea. I don’t know how likely it is, but I’m not sure anything in college football could surprise me anymore. Oregon State and Washington State need somewhere to land anyway, and if Clemson and Florida State bounce, the ACC should just lean into being totally unhinged. Give me Pac-12 after-dark vibes, every hour of every day.

ACC All Gone?

By: Robert Craft

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The SEC and Big Ten (right now) don’t want to expand and steal someone from the ACC or Pac-12, both commissioners Greg Sankey and Tony Petitti have stated that publicly.

The potential implosion of the ACC or Pac-12 might change that. If the Pac-12 collapses or big names like North Carolina, Florida State, Clemson and the like find a way out of the ACC Grant of Rights, the Big Ten and SEC would be concerned about the other scooping up another big market name, and that changes the dynamic.

Sankey has maintained that the SEC only added Texas/Oklahoma because the schools approached the conference and SEC would have been foolish to pass. (And yes, Notre Dame is the only obvious TV additive right now if you’re the SEC or Big Ten, sorry).

If I’m the ACC, increasing my value is top priority, therefore I wouldn’t fall far behind the Big Ten and the SEC, and keep it that way until at least the end of the decade. Smart conferences will already find new revenue streams in a new and ever-evolving market.

Would a smart conference stay in contact with the Pac-12? Would some sort of scheduling alliance or partnership be available? An eye on the Pac-12; if anyone follows Colorado out the door, it could lead to total collapse.

Already, Florida State, Clemson and others have made it clear that they believe they deserve more (money). Do they see themselves  splitting the pie by another four slices?  Is it evenly shared? Probably not. Could you do a tiered revenue split and add a western wing? I know things are never as simple as they sound on paper, but I’d explore any option to preserve the brightest future for the program.

Of course, there is always the possibility that someone challenges the ACC’s grant of rights and tries to exit the league. Florida State has a virtual board of trustees meeting soon.

The Seminoles would have to give notice of their withdrawal from the ACC by Aug. 15 in order to compete in a new league by fall 2024 (where would they go? How much is the exit fee?).

If the ACC breaks open, we’ll have a different conversation. The ACC could keep its current membership and become an aggressor in the media profit landscape if 1) they want a fight; and 2) they don’t open up an escape for FSU or Clemson or anyone to get out of the grant of rights.

The ACC corner of realignment is the most intriguing off-field action. The more I watch, the more questions surface. The result of this conflict will set the tone and trajectory for the future of a historically competitive conference.

Shuffling The Deck

By: Garrison Ryfun

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

With the ACC going division-less in 2023, the championship will now be played by the top two teams in the conference, instead of the winners of each division.

Since the conference is going division-less, teams will now play what is described as a 3-5-5 schedule.

This means that from at least 2023 to 2026, ACC teams will have three primary opponents and a rotation of the other ten teams in the conference.

The ACC guarantees that through this new scheduling format, each team will have a home and away game against all 13 other teams in this four-year window.

Though not all that common, this will prevent a championship game played by a 7-5 or 6-6 winner of either the Coastal or Atlantic division.

Once again, the divisions will not exist anymore but every team will be locked into three specific opponents.

Here are the primary opponents for each team in the ACC:

Boston College: Miami (FL), Pittsburgh, and Syracuse

Clemson: Florida State, Georgia Tech, and NC State

Duke: North Carolina, NC State, and Wake Forest

Florida State: Clemson, Miami, and Syracuse

Georgia Tech: Clemson, Louisville, and Wake Forest

Louisville: Georgia Tech, Miami (FL), and Virginia

Miami (FL): Boston College, Florida State, and Louisville

North Carolina: Duke, North Carolina, and Virginia

NC State: Clemson, Duke, and North Carolina

Pittsburgh: Boston College, Syracuse, and Virginia Tech

Syracuse: Boston College, Florida State, and Pittsburgh

Virginia: Louisville, North Carolina, and Virginia Tech

Virginia Tech: Pittsburgh, Virginia, and Wake Forest

Wake Forest: Duke, Georgia Tech, and Virginia Tech

Notre Dame, though not an official member of the conference for football, will still play their contractually obligated five ACC opponents under this new system.

This move just makes sense for the health of the conference.

In the upcoming age of super conferences, with Texas and Oklahoma moving to the SEC and USC and UCLA making their move to the Big Ten, having the two best teams in your conference title game will only help with national perception for the top of your conference.

It will already be hard enough to convince teams like Florida State and Clemson to not look elsewhere during this era. Super conferences will only create more revenue, especially in the television space for their member teams.

This is a step forward, albeit small, for the conference, and could give fans some fun in-season rematches in the championship game for years to come.

The biggest problem the ACC has left is figuring out how to navigate college football in this upcoming era.

Convincing Notre Dame, whose contract with NBC expires in 2025, and another high-profile team to join the conference is the next big step the ACC has to take to remain relevant in the football space.

The Coastal Life

By: Kenneth Harrison

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

We are getting closer to the start of the 2022 football season.

Let’s take a look at the ACC Coastal Division and predict the final standings.

#7 Duke 3-9 (0-8 ACC): The Blue Devils struggled in 2021. Head coach David Cutcliffe is now gone and former Texas A&M defensive coordinator Mike Elko has taken over.

The offense averaged 14.9 points per game in conference play last season. They lost quarterback Gunnar Holmberg and leading receiver Jake Bobo to the transfer portal and running back Mataeo Durant (1,241 yards) departed for the NFL.

The defense allowed 46.6 ppg and 7.1 yards per play in ACC games.

#6 Georgia Tech 3-9 (2-6 ACC): Head coach Geoff Collins is 9 – 25 over the last three years. The roster only returns four starters and the non-conference opponents are Ole Miss, UCF and Georgia.

Tech lost two offensive pieces in quarterback Jordan Yates, who transferred out, and running back Jahmyr Gibbs, who left for Alabama.

Jeff Sims returns at quarterback after passing for 12 TDs and 7 picks, but there isn’t a ton to work with around him moving the ball.

Drastic improvement is needed for the defense that has ranked 13th or worse in the ACC in points allowed in each of Collins’ three years at the helm. The offense averaged 24 ppg last season, which was third worst in the ACC.

#5 Virginia 6-6 (4-4 ACC): The Cavaliers will be led by first-year head coach Tony Elliott.

He previously served as a coach at Clemson from 2011 – 2021, most recently as associate head coach, offensive coordinator, tight ends coach and running backs coach. He has learned a lot from Dabo Swinney, which should mean good things for UVA.

Elliott inherits one of the ACC’s top quarterbacks (Brennan Armstrong) and receiving corps (Billy Kemp IV, Dontayvion Wicks, Keytaon Thompson and Lavel Davis). Armstrong led all Power 5 quarterbacks by averaging 427.3 total yards a game last fall.

They need to establish balance in the running game and take some of the pressure off of him. They lost all five offensive line starters.

#4 Virginia Tech 6-7 (4-4 ACC): Brent Pry takes over as the head coach in Blacksburg. Pry was the defensive coordinator at Penn State from 2016 – 2021. His experience should help make an impact immediately for the Hokies defense that’s returning seven starters. They held opponents to 25.3 ppg but only had 16 sacks in ACC play.

Transfer quarterbacks Grant Wells (Marshall) and Jason Brown (South Carolina) are battling for the starting job.

#3 North Carolina 6-7 (3-5 ACC): The Tar Heels lost QB Sam Howell, four offensive line starters and the bulk of the rushing attack.

Coach Mack Brown recruits well and a couple of good recruiting classes should make the difference.

Talented redshirt freshman Drake Maye will battle Jacolby Criswell for the starting quarterback job.

#2 Pitt 11-3 (7-1 ACC): The Panthers shocked everyone by winning the ACC last year. QB Kenny Pickett and receiver Jordan Addison are major losses.

USC transfer Kedon Slovis should win the quarterback job. They have a solid stable of running backs and the defense returns seven starters.

#1 Miami 7-5 (5-3 ACC): Mario Cristobal left Oregon to take the head coach job at his alma mater.

He hired Josh Gattis as offensive coordinator. Gattis led Michigan to the College Football Playoffs last season.

QB Tyler Van Dyke returns after throwing for almost 3,000 yards, 25 TD’s and 6 interceptions. He had seven games without a turnover and the U went 5-2.

The O line returns three starters, including All-America candidate Zion Nelson.