clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Expansion Is Official: The ACC Invites Stanford, Cal And SMU

This should be interesting

NCAA Football: ACC Championship-Pittsburgh vs Wake Forest
Dec 4, 2021; Charlotte, NC, USA; ACC logos at the tunnel entrance to the field during the ACC championship game between the Wake Forest Demon Deacons and the Pittsburgh Panthers at Bank of America Stadium.
Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Well it’s official: with the additions of Cal, Stanford on the West Coast and Southern Methodist representing the Gulf, the Atlantic Coast Conference is now the All Coast Conference.

Will it work?

Well it might, at least for a while.

Apparently SMU is willing to forgo revenue for a long time, a fairly astounding nine years. Cal and Stanford will settle for 30 percent for seven years. They’ll get 70 percent in the eighth year, 75 percent in year nine and get full shares in year 10.

The focus is on the ACC obviously but the expansion also drives a shiv into what’s left of the PAC-12. Oregon State and Washington State, by far the worst road trips in the PAC-12, will have to figure things out for themselves.

For Cal, this is a fairly stressful deal: the athletic department is already heavily in debt. How will they resolve that with this deal?

For SMU obviously, getting to a major conference is probably worth it. They have a ton of rich boosters and can probably get by until the ACC implodes they are full members.

Stanford is a remarkably successful athletics program and that’s all well and good. But this is driven by football and none of the three have any particular success there (though all three bring attractive media markets). SMU also brings an awful history: it’s the only school we know of to get the NCAA’s death penalty, back in 1987.

That was sorted out by the admirable Kenneth Pye, who was hired away from Duke to clean it up.

So while we don’t know how this will work out in the long run, a hearty welcome to our new ACC colleagues.

One more note here: Stanford is also famous for its scatter band, one that has gotten in trouble on multiple occasions. They are provocative, funny and at times obscene. Good times ahead. Virginia will have to up its game.

Back to basics: the ACC has some breathing room to figure out ways to make more money. We would like to suggest that with Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, NC State, Duke, Stanford and Cal in the same conference (we don’t mean to slightly anyone here; we just don’t know the capacities of the other schools as well), the ACC has programming brawn and easy access to Apple.

The media rights come from ESPN and Jim Swofford got everyone to sign over their media rights to the conference, which has kept things in place for now.

You can’t go around ESPN obviously, but we don’t think the contract applies to apps in the same way. The ACC should really start working on ways to exploit the upcoming Apple Vision Pro.

On the one hand, ESPN retains the media rights, but on the other, leveraging that opportunity to build on that platform is really critical. When you can present sports on a 100 foot screen in your living room, things change. But you can also overlay stats, conversation, and innovations that have yet to be imagined. It’s critical that the ACC build this so that when the tech is mature, it has as much or more than anyone else to offer.

The league blew it on expansion, frankly. We hate that this is where we are, but it is what it is. You missed the last wave. There’s still time to catch the next one.

One last thing. We have suggested this before, and maybe the ACC is in scramble mode enough to try something different.

The league should create and seriously fund an office of athletic recruitment. We know every school does this, but we’d like to see the ACC innovate for a change (we seriously hope the Charlotte office is not near a golf course like the Greensboro office is) and have a group that does nothing but scout, scout, scout in football and basketball. There are plenty of players who still slip between the cracks and finding and identifying them is crucial.

It could also set up a department to coordinate NIL activities. Several ACC schools are apparently quite behind on NIL and that would be another way to help the overall finances. The bottom line in athletics has to be athletes. If you identify them early and provide incentives to join the ACC, you can help to overcome the income gap.