With the fallout from the Pac-12 literally falling apart still shaking the college football world, the NCAA and fans turn their eyes to the ACC, where the conference could be the next one to experience a major overhaul. The SEC and Big Ten are the two superpowers; every major college program is going to try and align themselves with the two conferences because they make the most money and will have the most eyes on them. That leaves the Big 12, who continue to add the remnants of the Pac-12, the major Group of Five programs, and the ACC.
So, let’s dig into what’s really happening along the Atlantic Coast and figure out what’s going on?
Who is currently in the ACC?
So as of (/checks clock) 10:00 am Eastern time, the current schools in the ACC are: Florida State, Miami, Clemson, North Carolina, Duke, Wake Forest, NC State, Georgia Tech, Louisville, Boston College, Pitt, Syracuse, Virginia and Virginia Tech. Notre Dame is also here, but it’s complicated.
What’s so complicated about Notre Dame?
I’m glad you asked. So, Notre Dame is technically in the ACC for all of their sports except football and ice hockey. They negotiated that into their contract with the ACC when their sports got merged with the conference, and that contract expires in 2036. The caveat here is that while the Irish remain independent, they have to play five ACC teams in their football schedule.
The Fighting Irish really having their cake and eating it as well.
However, Notre Dame also wants to make a lot of demands. Traditional rivalries are big for the Irish, and some of their biggest ones are USC, Cal and Stanford. The Big Ten currently has a major negotiating chip in their hand with USC becoming a Big Ten member in 2024, so it could coax Notre Dame into being a part of the conference (Notre Dame has stated before that they plan on remaining independent regardless of any realignment shakeups, but you never know)
So how does Notre Dame play into all of this?
Alright so we’ve established two things:
- Notre Dame is still a massive chip on the table, due to their popularity and their exclusive NBC streaming deal.
- They’re remaining independent, but the Big Ten is still angling for them.
So with those two things in mind, allow me to break your brain for just a second:
Potential ATLANTIC COAST Conference schools Cal and Stanford.
Just think about that for a moment.
Alright now that we’re back, Cal and Stanford are the two biggest pieces remaining of the Pac-4, but rumors are that they’re looking around for a safe place to land when the Pac-12’s ship finally capsizes. One of those places is potentially the ACC, and both have begun exploring the possibility along with the conference … and Notre Dame.
So yes, noted non-conference member Notre Dame wants Cal and Stanford added to the conference, but still is going to remain independent.
Back on Aug. 11, the ACC presidents had a meeting about potentially adding Stanford and Cal, and according to reports, four schools were opposed to it: Clemson, FSU, North Carolina and NC State.
So in short: the ACC probably won’t be adding those two right now, unless someone has a change of heart.
A Third team has entered the battle!
Among the more prominent G5 teams left on the market is SMU. Initially thought to be joining the Big 12 so they could basically dominate most of the Dallas-Fort Worth area (TCU would probably be opposed to it), they flipped to potentially joining the ATLANTIC COAST conference.
Not only that, but along with Stanford, SMU is calling in the big guns to persuade the ACC into adding them to the conference.
Someone get Cal to put Mashawn Lynch on the phone, and maybe the ACC will add them.
Anyway, SMU is also being considered as an addition to the ATLANTIC COAST conference. Which is just very weird to say.
What are the financials behind this move?
To tell you how much these schools want to make this move, according to Yahoo Sports’ Ross Dellenger, the potential additions to the ACC (especially SMU) are willing to take a reduced pay, forgoing their conference distribution pay for “at least five years”. Because of the massive travel costs of adding schools from f****** CALIFORNIA AND TEXAS, the ACC would need more revenue from the ACC Network, and according to Dellenger, Cal and Stanford would enter on a partial, “60-70 percent” share.
Another major financial hurdle: the ACC is tied to their contract with ESPN for 13 more years, and that contract, according to Dellenger, gives them a portion of Big Ten and SEC TV money.
Are any of the ACC’s current schools thinking about leaving?
Florida State has had its eye on the SEC for at least 15 years, and with all of the upheaval they decided to light a bit of a fire under the ACC. On Aug. 2, FSU president Rick McCullogh said at a Board of Trustees meeting that the university has to seriously consider leaving the ACC if revenue distribution doesn’t even out, per The Athletic. However, Florida State had until Aug 15 to inform the conference of their intentions, and as of this writing, they remain in the ACC.
Mainly because they can’t get out of the Grant of Rights deal.
The Grant of Rights is a deal every ACC team signed with the ACC giving all of their TV broadcast rights to the conference, thus giving them the money. That contract goes through 2036, due to an extension signed in 2016. Hindsight is always 20/20, but man what a dopey decision. Oh yeah, and there’s a potential $120 million exit fee, per ESPN’s Andrea Adelson.
However, rumors are that the Grant of Rights really won’t stop FSU for that long. FSU has begun working with JP Morgan Chase to raise private equity money, seemingly to get that $120+ million to leave the ACC. Because private equity loans always work, you know?
Oh yeah, and Clemson is also seriously considering a move out of the ACC, just a lot less loudly than FSU. There have been rumors of North Carolina, Duke and Miami leaving as well, but the only confirmed rumors are Florida State making a very public fuss about everything.
On a scale of 1-10, how safe is the ACC right now?
If 1 is danger zone and 10 is super safe, I’d say about a 4 or 5 right now. We really won’t know until this time next year, because by then Florida State will really want out, and if they can’t get Cal, Stanford and SMU in the conference, it might be dangerous. Especially if Clemson follows FSU out the door.