clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

John Swofford Has Changed The ACC And It May Be Freaking Some People Out

What’s eating Paul Finebaum?

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

NCAA Football: ACC Media Days
Jul 17, 2019; Charlotte, NC, USA; ACC Commissioner John Swofford addresses the media during the 2019 ACC Kickoff at the Westin Hotel in Charlotte, NC. 
Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

You can make arguments about what college athletics should be and there are many major flaws with it as it currently exists.

In a perfect world, we’d prefer the ACC to be a nine-team league still. Unfortunately, that world no longer exists and the conference was deeply fortunate to have John Swofford guide it through a time of immense change and multiple challenges.

As the ACC Network draws closer, it’s well worth your time to read this article to see a retrospective of what Swofford has accomplished.

As it turns out, he was correct about expansion and correct about football’s prominence and probably correct about the importance of the ACC Network to the conference’s future (change is happening so fast that we won't know just yet how well that works out but we’re encouraged that the conference seems to embrace change rather than shrink from it).

We remember the debate about expansion very well. We weren’t crazy about it and didn't immediately accept that it was essential for the ACC’s future. It wasn’t popular at Duke or UNC, which at the time was still pretending to be a role model for academics and athletics.

As we say, you can argue about whether being involved in big-time college athletics is a good idea or even moral. But if you’re going to do it, you pretty much have to do what Swofford has guided the ACC through and towards.

You can measure his success in another way: the ACC is clearly getting under Paul Finebaum’s skin.

The main mouthpiece of the SEC, Finebaum has gotten into some foolish back and forth with Florida State, Clemson, and the ACC at large. Let’s look.

He mocked the ACC, saying that there was only one game he would bother watching, Clemson at Syracuse (you’d think he’d have some interest in seeing the SEC’s Texas A&M and South Carolina challenge Clemson but apparently he’s conceding those games to the Tigers).

He ripped FSU, saying it’s not a “destination job,” and that Jimbo Fisher had left a train wreck before departing for...the SEC and Texas A&M.

So will he wreck that program too?

Finebaum is plenty smart enough to know that some programs are never going away for long. FSU is one of them. The infrastructure is there to be great again and the will is too. The ‘Noles will be back, probably sooner than later.

Meanwhile, Clemson is pretty great right now. Finebaum however says that there was “no doubt in my mind” that Alabama would beat Clemson if they played this year.

Clemson quarterback called that “unprofessional,” which seemed to freak Finebaum out a bit. He said that ACC people didn’t understand that SEC people liked to “have fun” with football.

He said a bunch of other stuff too...that Clemson didn't know how to win, that Alabama doesn't care about Clemson anyway, that Clemson got lucky and caught ‘Bama at exactly the right time and more. The guy talks for a living but usually he does it better than this. It just sounds juvenile frankly.

Not to be churlish, but last winter, Clemson beat Alabama 44-16 to win the national championship.

That’s four touchdowns.

That’s not just winning, that’s embarrassing a proud program.

Finebaum does have a couple of valid points. Clemson has an easier path to the playoffs than any SEC school because SEC football is still better than ACC football and probably will be for the foreseeable future.

Fair enough.

However, the rest sounds like a guy hearing footsteps. The ACC has a number of schools that either have tremendous tradition or tremendous potential. Clemson is obviously playing at a historically high level but several other schools are poised to make moves: Virginia, Virginia Tech, Syracuse, Pitt, Georgia Tech, Miami, NC State and, God help the ethically inclined, UNC could soon be much, much better.

It’ll be interesting to see how he (not to mention the SEC) reacts if Georgia Tech, Miami and Florida State all improve substantially. Clemson already dominates the state of South Carolina. If the ACC challenges the SEC in Georgia and Florida, things could get very interesting indeed.

If you're going to shop Amazon please start here and help DBR
DBR Auctions|Blue Healer Auctions| Drop us a line