My Favorite Questions from This Morning's ACC Conference Call

The ACC has released a transcript (PDF) of this morning's conference call on the admittance of Syracuse and Pittsburgh into the conference. There's not much there that hasn't been reported over the course of the day; in fact most of the questions were of the type that wouldn't elicit answers anyway. Swofford was pretty insistent that the ACC was happy at 14 teams, and not necessarily headed to 16; I think only Texas will get that particular ball rolling at this point. 

Even though the transcript doesn't identify questioners, it's pretty easy to tell the national media from the ACC guys frm the Big East folks. And the latter are a little ticked. My favorite questions:

John, I understand that you say that you didn't want to name names in terms of other schools that may be interested in joining the ACC, but would it be fair to say that there are other BIG EAST schools on your radar should you decide to go to 16? [After a sensible non-response] Well, let me ask you this: With the perilous state of the BIG EAST right now, would you maybe lay off that conference and maybe let them kind of get their act together so that they can survive in the landscape?

I'm also fond of the veiled threats:

This is for the Pitt and Syracuse folks. Everybody remembers what happened in 2003 and 2004 when Miami, Virginia Tech and BC left. Do you expect that similar treatment when you go to BIG EAST places, and are you afraid of legal action from the remaining BIG EAST schools?

I'm not sure what answer they expected there. "Yes, we expect wide and frequent outbreaks in violence at many of our fellow universities." And finally there's this one, the "Fine, we didn't want you anyway!" question:

Just looking at the SEC, not a lot of major markets in that conference, yet they've been incredibly rich. Back in 2003 that was a football first move. These teams, Pitt and Syracuse, haven't been in the Top 10 in the AP Poll in two decades. Are you worried about splitting the share of the TV pie 14 ways from a football revenue standpoint?

This questioner doesn't understand, like a lot of people frankly, that ESPN bid on a package deal for football, basketball, and the non-revenue sports. That got the conference more money than the football component alone would be worth, especially with the poor showing the conference has put forth of late. So strengthening the basketball side, especially as the Big East is weakened, is a good thing.

Finally a brief mention of two things I feel a lot of the press is misinterpreting. The first is John Swofford's mention of playing the ACC Tournament in Madison Square Garden. A lot of folks are reporting this as another shot across the Big East's bow. New York was brought up by the questioner, Andy Katz, and Swofford's response is about as noncommittal as you can get. He equates MSG with other ACC locations like Washington, D.C., Atlanta, and Tampa. Tampa. No one would outright turn down an offer to play in Madison Square Garden, but don't look for the ACC to muscle the Big East out of their hometown any time soon.

The second is about a late question about Texas's Longhorn Network, and how that might impede UT joining the conference. Folks are reading Swofford's emphasis on the ACC's revenue sharing as shutting the door here, but he's actually pretty vague. After that, check out what he said:

We don't have a school currently that has its own institutional television network. That's a relatively unique set of circumstances, at least currently, in today's world. So we really haven't sat down and analyzed how that could be made to work in our particular situation. But the fundamental principle is one that's very important to us. There are rights that are released by our television rightsholder at times, but ESPN is so extensive in what they show, there aren't a lot of those rights left.

It's less that Texas couldn't have a Longhorn Network, but more the fine details. Which is complicated by the fact that the LHN also falls under ESPN's sphere of influence, which brings up questions on how ESPN would decide to release games to... itself, but paying a different pocket. But Swofford could be looking to establishing similar networks elsewhere in the ACC for all we know. I would think the door is further open to the Longhorns than you might think.

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