October 27, 2017

ACC Basketball Media Moments

Filed under: ACC,Basketball,Conference,Media — Chas @ 7:26 am

The ACC Men’s Basketball Media Day was Wednesday. The talk that dominated was about the FBI probe, as coaches danced around Rick Pitino’s very existence. Don’t worry, the ACC isn’t going to simply rely on the NCAA’s own panel to examine issues. No, they are going to have their own damn panel.

Toward that end ACC commissioner John Swofford unveiled Wednesday a five-member task force to study issues exposed by recent federal charges against, among others, four assistant coaches, two Adidas employees, a financial adviser and former agent.

Outgoing Virginia athletic director Craig Littlepage is chairing the five-man ACC group, all of whom are steeped in the game. Littlepage played at Penn and coached at Villanova, Virginia, Penn and Rutgers. Boston College AD Martin Jarmond played at UNC Wilmington, Florida State AD Stan Wilcox at Notre Dame. Duke AD Kevin White sits on the NCAA tournament selection committee, and ACC senior associate commissioner Paul Brazeau coached at Hartford, Boston College and Ohio State, and worked previously for the Big East and NBA.

The latest scandal “is a wake-up call, and it’s an opportunity,” Swofford said during a one-on-one interview at the ACC’s annual preseason media gathering. “If we don’t take advantage of this opportunity, shame on us collectively.”

Swofford wants the ACC task force to offer suggestions to the NCAA commission, chaired by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and including retired players Grant Hill and David Robinson. He wants the group to canvass not only ACC coaches, but stakeholders outside the conference.

I’m sure this will do great things.

The highlight of the some-20 minutes of opening remarks from Commissioner Swofford was an insane metaphor regarding sandwiches and buckets for dealing with the issues in college basketball.

Roughly translated: we won’t/can’t do this without help/cover.

Swofford would not bite on whether there are any regrets about bringing Louisville into the fold in light of their brief but scandal-plagued existence in the ACC.

Last year, Pitino returned to media day after skipping 2015 amid the NCAA investigation and calmly praised the governing body for its professionalism as it hit Louisville with four major violations and said the national championship coach had failed to monitor a former staffer who paid for escort and strippers at sex parties for recruits and players.

ACC Commissioner John Swofford isn’t happy about the black eye Louisville has given the league, but doesn’t regret inviting the Cardinals to join the conference.

“Not pleased about recent events,” Swofford said. “But it was the right decision at the time and can be the right decision in the long term.”

Yup. No regrets.

Miami Coach Jim Larranaga confirmed that he is likely “coach-3”.

Miami coach Jim Larranaga believes he was “coach-3” in the FBI’s complaint, but he said the investigation was not a distraction for what could be his most talented team with the Hurricanes.

Virginia Tech Head Coach Buzz Williams expects more bad stuff to come.

“I haven’t been out much unless it’s been recruiting, but I would agree, stereotypically speaking, that the industry as a whole probably receives jaded looks,” Williams said. “Anytime the FBI’s involved, I’d say you’re deserving of that.

“I do think that it’s something that will be prevalent, because I think that there will continue to be more history revealed, and I anticipate it will be more shocking than what we know thus far.”

The coaches were scattershot on the situation. Some want the shoe companies out. Some (who get paid a lot of money directly) don’t think the shoe companies are an issue.

Notre Dame coach Mike Brey would like to see shoe companies become less involved with AAU basketball.

“If shoe companies are still going to be heavily involved with grassroots [basketball], it’s going to be a problem,” Brey said. “Are they going to back off a little bit, given they’re getting into some stuff here with the FBI? In that vacuum, would they maybe work with us with combines and clinics sponsored by the NCAA, USA Basketball and the [National Association of Basketball Coaches]?”

But Krzyzewski said shoe companies are important to basketball.

“The spring and summer competitions that have been funded by these three major shoe companies give thousands of kids opportunities to be seen [by college coaches],” Krzyzewski said. “I would hate that if we look at this and we just say, ‘Well, the shoe companies are bad.’ What, are the universities going to give up their school contracts that outfit the 20 to 30 sports that they have?”

Then there’s Jim Boeheim that thinks the shoe companies are all dirty… Except for the one that has a contract with Syracuse.

“We always thought … there’s some shoe company involvement with some players,” Boeheim said. “They invest a lot of money in those programs so they want their kids to go to one of their schools probably.

“It’s not as big a problem with Nike because they have … a lot more schools; they’re not going to influence a kid too much.”



Moving on.

If you didn’t catch it last month, the ACC Network is still progressing and in a surprising move will be based out of the ESPN main campus in Bristol. Not down in Charlotte, NC where ESPN also has a campus and the SEC Network is based.

ESPN will house the ACC Network in a 194,000 square-foot studio in Bristol that also houses “SportsCenter” and ESPN’s NFL studio programming, Brooks said. The SEC Network, essentially an extension of ESPN’s existing SEC programming, is the model for the ACC Network. Senior leadership overseeing the network will be in Charlotte, and studio operations will be in Bristol.

“As it was evaluated it became clear that a studio in Bristol supplemented by Charlotte would be the best decision,” Brooks said.

Brooks said the job count for the network hasn’t been finalized, but that there will be staff between both locations.

“It’s not a snub to Charlotte at all. It’s a dual presence opportunity and it makes the most sense for the ACC network,” Brooks said.

Establishing the ACC Network comes as viewers are increasingly cutting their cable cords: ESPN lost an estimated 7 million subscribers in less than three years as consumers move away from traditional cable and satellite bundles. ESPN cut about 100 jobs company-wide earlier this spring, including several in Charlotte as the company relocated its ESPNU operations to Bristol.

I think it is a good thing for Pitt and other programs not based in North Carolina for this. It levels the field in terms of coverage, and makes it less likely for there to be further use of the Raycom/Jefferson Pilot amateur hour that has made so many ACC football games a strain to endure.

Swofford did announce that ESPN had reached a new carrier deal with the number four cable provider, Altice. The deal does include carrying the ACC Network when it launches. Like the SEC Network, Disney/ESPN is putting its weight behind making sure the ACC Network will get on as many carriers as possible well before the launch date.

As for Pitt…

Well, when you are picked to finish last in the ACC, coverage is limited.

The always blunt (often to his own detriment) Kevin Stallings has some lingering bitterness about being savaged over the Cam Johnson transfer and went off-script.

At the ACC’s annual men’s basketball media day Wednesday, Pitt coach Kevin Stallings was asked if instances like Johnson’s make him wish the NCAA transfer process, and all that comes with it, were more cut and dry. After giving his answer — he wishes they were — he addressed what he believed was an unfair portrayal of him that evolved as the story unfolded.

“I took a beating for it, which, honestly, I resent,” Stallings said. “I didn’t deserve to be criticized for anything that happened. If anybody knew the truth, they would know I didn’t deserve one bit of criticism for what happened.

“But there are people that have their own agendas and want to have their own voice and want to be able to say their own things, so that’s what they do. Sometimes, they do it at a coach’s expense because coaches are easy targets. ‘Oh, look at these coaches. They’re making all this money and they won’t let this kid do that?’ Well, guess what? I don’t have anything to say about what that kid does.”

Stop talking. Stop talking. Stop talking.

Stallings noted, though, that the rule that forbade the Our Lady of Sacred Heart graduate from transferring within the conference was not his own. Rather, it was a school policy that was in place before he arrived. He said he complied with Johnson’s request, granting him a release the day he told him he would give it to him, but his hands were partially tied.

“I had been there for eight or nine months; who the hell am I to tell them we’re going to do it differently?” he said.

That gridlock thrust Stallings into what he saw as a difficult position.

Oh, God. Please stop. Please stop.

“What happens is the uninformed, and I do mean the uninformed media, they think erroneously that coaches are in complete control of what happens,” he said. “They start listening to the player’s side or the player’s dad’s side and they develop this sympathetic ear when they’re told things that aren’t true. I never prohibited one aspect of that transfer. I was told by our administration ‘This is how we do it.’”

When asked what things weren’t true, Stallings declined to elaborate, saying “That’s water under my bridge. That flowed down the river a long time ago.”

Clearly he’s let it go.

Good stuff…I would like to hear more on what ACC coaches think about getting rid of one and dones or even two and dones. Why can’t college BB have the same rule as college FB with regard to eligibility for the pro draft?

Comment by HbgFrank 10.27.17 @ 11:45 am

I vented in the off-season. After last season was the time to replace Stallings. Now he gets at least two years with this rebuild. Sucks, but reality. Hopefully, he recovers. I have my doubts but I’ll give him a shot. Unless he’s a jackass again it will be hard to get too upset with this team’s play. Very low expectations outside of continued improvement over the course of the season.

Comment by Tossing Thabeets 10.27.17 @ 3:42 pm

I think Stallings would be great addition to Swoffords task force. A seasoned veteran coach with insights from two conferences. Make him a full time member. Too bad he wont have time for coaching. Cue the search committee, Heather.

Comment by Dinosaur 71 10.27.17 @ 4:23 pm

I like Stallings…wasn’t my first, second, third…choice, but it’s who we have.
If fans are jacked that he’s the coach, blame Herman for pushing out the most successful coach while lowering the buy-out.

Comment by Gasman 10.27.17 @ 6:28 pm

Could this be the first year in many that a Pitt Basketball Team is actually better in March than in November?

Comment by xfmrman 10.27.17 @ 8:35 pm

link to

“Kevin Stallings sees this season as his ‘second first year’ at Pitt”

Stallings has already found his talking point that he’ll most likely use for the whole year..

Comment by NickC 10.28.17 @ 5:11 am

Great report Chas. I hope the FBI burns them all.

These schools have sold their souls for the almighty dollar, and will continue to do it unless there are major consequences. I guess Swofford didn’t mention UNC getting off scot free. The corruption in college sports is overwhelming and has been for a long time.

Mostly glad that Cam Johnson is getting his best shot for pro ball, but sad that it is UNC again asserting their all-powerfulness in the ACC.

If Shoe companies are to continue funding college basketball, there needs to be a way to make it above board, a level playing field and transparent. Yeah right

Comment by gc 10.28.17 @ 7:12 am

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