You hear that? That's the sound of actual football being discussed. Well sort of.
ACC Kickoff officially opened the football season on Sunday in Pinehurst with commissioner John Swofford speaking to the media. I will give you three guesses on what he discussed and the first two don't count. Like SEC commissioner Mike Slive's presentation last week, Swofford focused on the NCAA and other hot button issues. Swofford was also directly asked about UNC's NCAA issues. To this point Swofford has not commented on the NCAA investigation into UNC football because he does not make pubic remarks about an ongoing investigation. This is a point missed many times over by ABCers who think Swofford should have something to say about his former school. Never mind, as ACC commissioner, that would be a bad idea. At any rate, here is Swofford said about UNC via ACC Now.
Swofford, who played football at UNC and was the school's athletic director for 17 years, didn't specifically mention the school in his two-minute answer but said:
"Any time one of our schools has an NCAA problem, wherever it is, whichever one it is, I'm disappointed and concerned because that's not who we are as a league."
In a one-hour address to the media, Swofford had championed the league's academic track record, and said, along with compliance, it was one of the cornerstones of the conference.
UNC's violations range from academic fraud to seven players accepting more than $27,000 improper benefits.
"When you have those kinds of problems, you don't step back from what your cornerstones are and what you're all about," Swofford said. "You try to fix it and move forward."
Swofford termed UNC's problems as an exception and said the school needs to recommit to its values.
"You have to look at it, revaluate it and recommit to the appropriate values you want and have displayed throughout the league in the past," Swofford said.
I am not sure what Swofford not referencing UNC by name has to do with anything. Swofford, as ACC commissioner, must frame any situation at a member school in terms of what it means for the league as a whole. UNC's failures reflects poorly on the ACC and for that reason Swofford is disappointed but also wants to see it fixed. He is also correct. UNC needs to, in a very overt way, recommit itself to the "appropriate values." Whether that be The Carolina Way or improving compliance in general.
Swofford also called for NCAA reforms, especially in terms of how the NCAA handles penalties saying there needs to be consistency.
The commissioner favors a more modernized and streamlined version of NCAA rules with straightforward punishment guidelines.
“Let’s consider a graduated system with categories of offenses, with sentencing parameters and guidelines that everybody knows about ahead of time,” Swofford said.
Swofford added that you can not legislate integrity.
“I think winning is really important,” Swofford said. “But if you have to cheat to win, you really haven’t won at all, have you?
This isn't exactly groundbreaking but rather common sense. The biggest complaint about the NCAA(among many) is the fact no one knows what the penalties will look like from one case to the next. What Swofford suggests is a great idea but one glaring problem. The NCAA also has a habit of ignoring their own guidelines. Just ask Kendric Burney about his six game suspension when the guideline said it should have been four or Michael McAdoo's appeal hearing proceeding despite the facts being in dispute. It does no good to improve the rules when the organization is prone to disregard rules when it sees fit. Ken Tysiac at ACC Now has a nice rundown of Swofford main reform points which also covers full cost of attendance and the possibility of mult-year scholarships.
I would note, Swofford and every other commissioner in the country have the unenviable task of following SEC commissioner Mike Slive who have his presentation last week on reforms he would like to see in the NCAA. Not that Slive was right or wrong in what he said but given how much exposure the SEC has for their football media days, Slive's speech gets a lot of attention. Following that is not easy and Swofford is not the most dynamic speaker in the world. However he did use some forceful language such as referring to this period in college athletics as a "tipping point" which means actions is needed sooner rather than later.
UNC players also meet with the media today, more on that tomorrow as well as Butch Davis' media availability.