We didn't know a whole lot about incoming ACC commissioner Jim Phillips before the news of his selection came out but what we’ve learned is promising and intriguing.
First, as Luke DeCock says, it’s not as easy to please everyone after expansion. All the new teams came from the Big East and while Virginia Tech probably lines up with the ACC fairly well - the Hokies have wanted to join since the conference started - that hasn’t always been the case.
Phillips is a neutral party, if you will. That’s probably a good thing even if it is a big adjustment.
Secondly, and this is a big positive, he has a basketball background. Football is a great sport but the ACC’s identity is basketball. It’s good to think he understands it.
Third, the single best play the ACC could do, as outgoing Commissioner John Swofford got partially done, is bringing Notre Dame fully in. That won’t be easy - the Irish are an anomaly and don’t really need a conference to bring in buckets of money - but that would rewrite the contract with ESPN in a big way.
Phillips has ties with Notre Dame, where he worked for Duke AD Kevin White. We believe he also worked with UNC’s Bubba Cunningham and State’s Boo Corrigan there. If there is any way to get Notre Dame in with football, it’s a game changer.
Aside from the media contracts, he’s also going to have to deal with immense changes in college athletics, including but not limited to NIL changes and the impact that will have.
We’re also very impressed with what people have been saying about him as he prepares to depart Northwestern. As it turns out, he was the leading candidate for the Big Ten job before the conference hired Kevin Warren.
A talented attorney and sports executive, Warren was almost immediately hit with the Covid pandemic. Big Ten people were livid that the ACC and SEC thought they could play football but the Big Ten could not.
Later he backed off of that and let the league play. The vacillation did not go over well. We’ve seen people on Twitter and other sites today refer to him as a disaster and, repeatedly, refer to not hiring Phillips as a major mistake.
We’ve also seen people at Northwestern deeply sad to see him go and call him the best A.D. they’ve ever had and the best in the country.
So if all this is true, he’s well-suited to become an outstanding commissioner in the ACC and possibly an historic one.
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