Reminder Pitt on the Prowl alumni events kick off this Thursday in Cleveland (hope to see some people there) and then to Chicago on May 23 and NYC on May 25. Coaches Pat Narduzzi, Kevin Stallings and Suzie McConnell-Serio will be at all the events.
Script unveiling is tomorrow. At least May has been somewhat active.
ACC meetings from last week didn’t reveal anything earth-shattering.
The only concrete thing of real change concerns centralizing instant replay reviews for ACC games.
The thing everyone had waited to hear at the ACC meetings was ACC Commissioner/Ninja John Swofford give any sort of update on an ACC Network.
The ACC’s leadership spent a “significant amount of time” discussing television and all that comes with that topic — rights fees, the possibility of a dedicated ACC channel in partnership with ESPN – during the league’s annual spring meetings.
John Swofford, the ACC commissioner, admitted that much, at least. Beyond the obvious revelation that league officials discussed the conference’s TV situation in great detail, though, there wasn’t much in the way of TV news that came out of the spring meetings, which ended on Thursday.
It wasn’t necessarily a surprise. For years Swofford has received questions about the possibilty of an ACC channel. And for years he hasn’t said much of anything about it. His non-answers have become so predictable that he began his session with reporters on Thursday with a joke about them.
“I know that you have a job to do,” Swofford said moments after he sat down in front of a small group of reporters. “And I respect that and I know you’re tired of hearing me consistently say the same old sound bites in regard to this particular subject.
“So I thought maybe you’d just want to pull up your previous tweets and stories and do a little pasting and save us some time on comments about an ACC channel. I’m kidding. Sort of. No, I don’t really have anything to add to that.”
You can see where this is going. Swofford said nothing, but leaves room for interpretation.
More than once, though, he either spoke directly about or alluded to ESPN’s ingenuity and creativeness. Swofford spoke about how negotiations these days are often less about traditional things — like rights fees — and more about “developing businesses together that are a partnership.”
Again, who knows what that means, exactly. From the sound of it, though, the conversations between the ACC and ESPN go much deeper than, “So, how about that network? Yay or nay?” And a network, in the traditional sense of the word, might be only a piece of what they’re discussing at all.
Swofford made a point on Thursday to praise the ACC as a visionary in college sports. As proof, he pointed to league’s early expansion from nine to 12 teams as evidence that the ACC knew where college sports would be headed, eventually.
You get the sense now that Swofford is attempting to build on the ACC’s visionary status through whatever the next step is with TV — whether it’s a dedicated channel or something else that takes advantage of emerging technology. What that next step looks like, though, is unclear.
Now you can be half-full or half-empty on this regarding an eventual channel of some sort. David Teel is probably the best ACC beat writer out there (covers VT and Virginia — but is really plugged into the ACC conference stuff). I’m going to defer to his judgment.
Yet for all of Swofford’s polite camouflaging, the answer seems clear: The ACC and ESPN eventually will team on a new, more lucrative model for presenting the conference’s events.
Either that, or Swofford is among the planet’s worst poker players and managers of expectations.
“So with technology and so forth, you want to be with people that are progressive and that have flexibility, that are willing to adapt,” Swofford said. “And I think that’s who our partner is. And so we’re bullish about it, and I’d say they’re bullish about it. It might not look exactly the same.”
The “same” being a traditional channel such as the wildly successful, to date, SEC Network and Big Ten Network.
For those who believe the ACC should already have a channel, recall that membership wasn’t stable or wide enough until the latest expansion and subsequent 2013 grant of media rights. Nor were the league’s football programs performing well enough — they certainly are now.
The question is more about the format than anything else. A channel of some sort will happen. And probably within a year or two. The ACC has become a master of keeping things quiet until the deal is done.
ESPN already has facilities in Charlotte, North Carolina. They set up shop there years ago to handle rebroadcasts of local feeds for the college football and basketball on cable on satellite (and now for ESPN3). Charlotte is actually where ESPN houses their SEC Network. There is already plenty of infrastructure in place for an ACC Network — as a hybrid digital/cable platform or otherwise. All without being obvious about the movements for both parties until they are ready to announce.