clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

With ACC's Latest Move, Stability?

Monday's announcement that the ACC member schools will sign a Grant of Rights should go a long ways towards stabilizing the rush towards realignment, at least at the top.

With the ACC's move, now the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12 and PAC-12 all have adopted the Grant of Rights approach. Only the SEC doesn't have it, presumably because they have so much money that they don't need one (they also don't have an exit fee, which makes perfect sense today).

Or, as one SEC site puckishly suggested today, it merely postpones SEC expansion until 2026-27.

What it probably does do is to keep the top conferences from poaching one another, a practice the ACC pioneered when it admitted Miami, BC, and Virginia Tech. But it does two other things as well.

First, it goes a long ways towards cementing the ACC as the dominant power in the most heavily populated part of the country. With a heavy presence in Florida and up the coast to Boston, the ACC is going to be hard to top. The Big Ten muscled in to New York and Maryland with their recent expansion, and Penn State is a powerful presence still in the Keystone State, but that's as much and admission of weakness as anything else.

Give Jim Delaney credit: he's had a tough hand and played it brilliantly, primarily through the Big Ten Network, but the reality is that in the Big Ten's traditional base is in a long-term demographic decline. Adding Rutgers and Maryland may not be the answer. Rutgers is a semi-permanent train wreck with a brief surge in football which is about to run into the Big Ten wall. And while Maryland thinks that the Big Ten is going to bail them out of their financial crater, Tennessee is in at least as much financial trouble, and they're in the almighty SEC. And don't even get started on Penn State.

The new Big East will be heard from in basketball, as will the A-10, but with Duke, UNC, Syracuse, Louisville and a hugely improved group of coaches at the other ACC schools, the conference is going to be a basketball force to be reckoned with.

And football should continue to improve as well, with FSU, Georgia Tech, Clemson, Virginia Tech, Miami and Louisville all solid and several others rising. Even Duke, long a laughing stock in college football, has earned respect with recent improvement under David Cutcliffe.

That's not to say everything is perfect. The ACC still has to figure out a way to have rivalries still a factor. They were heavily damaged during the last expansion and are essentially abandoned now. Duke and UNC will be protected, but otherwise, there are no sacred cows. That's a really serious problem, because the ACC was built on payback. What happens when you hardly ever see anyone twice? Duke and UNC is great; so was Duke and Clemson home-and-home. So was State-Georgia Tech. The conference really has to think this through. We had previously suggested a season-opening tournament, but it could be something like three Big Four meetings too (for those who don't know, Duke, UNC, State and Wake used to hold an early-season tournament that had some amazing moments).

And the talks of an ACC Network are apparently well underway. Of course, with a Big Ten Network, a Longhorn Network and an SEC Network, the market for that is getting a bit crowded. But we'll see.

As we had also suggested earlier, as the TV market morphs, it'd be nice to be the primary college presence on, say, the Apple TV thingy and the iPad, much less the semi-mythical real deal Apple TV. If you call up your home screen and see Duke-Syracuse as an icon, that's a fairly different space.

Wherever it goes, though, things are going to be very different. It's nice to know the ACC is stable, but clearly it's not what it once was. In college sports, though, not much is, is it?