ACC commissioner John Swofford has been very busy lately, attending winter meetings and commissioners’ meetings in recent weeks. I got a chance to catch up with him on Tuesday to ask him about a variety of topics that have been in the news recently. Here are the highlights of the first part of our conversation:
As you look at future bowl tie-ins, how much thought have you given to adding another bowl because of the additions of Pitt and Syracuse?
John Swofford: We’re discussing that now and we’ll continue to discuss what the right number is in terms of the bowls we will need going forward. I think certainly one change in the future is that you’ve got to find the right sweet spot, so to speak, as to what the correct number is. You don’t want to have too many and not be able to fill them, but at the same time you want to have enough to reward the teams in your league that should be rewarded with a bowl opportunity. I suspect there will be more discussions among the bowls and among conferences in terms of secondary arrangements to fill spots and other bowls that are committed to other conferences, and other conferences can’t fill them. That will work in both directions.
And with Notre Dame playing, too, and possibly taking one of the ACC’s spots, I would imagine that would factor into your decision as well.
JS: It does factor into it. Certainly I think our lineup of potential teams is enhanced with not only the addition of Syracuse and Pitt, but in the future the addition of Notre Dame and Louisville when they come in.
Onto the topic of Maryland. Where does that lawsuit currently stand, and when do you expect a resolution with that?
JS: Well, I wouldn’t give any predictions on that. It’s a legal matter our legal team will be handling. Certainly we continue to wish Maryland the best as they make their transition to the Big Ten. Simply put, there’s an expectation from our league and our council of presidents that the obligation of leaving is appropriately fulfilled.
Is it even more important that that obligation is fulfilled, considering the Big 12 hasn’t ruled out expansion?
JS: I don’t really see any direct correlation there.
Is it important to send a message to other schools that you can’t get away with this, considering other conferences are still exploring the option of adding more teams?
JS: First of all, I don’t think there’s anyone who has any interest in leaving. I think we’re sprinting into the future with 14 schools that are very committed to each other. We don’t really relate this to any other conference, really. It’s really about the obligation of membership in the league.
What can you tell me about the reports that have surfaced about talks of an ACC-Big 12 alliance?
JS: It’s very preliminary. We had some discussions at our recent meetings, regularly scheduled winter meetings. Bob Bowlsby and I have had some discussions. We’ve had some discussions with some other conferences, too, about getting scheduling alliances, bowls in general, any kind of collaboration with other conferences that’s good for both conferences, I think in today’s world, could potentially be very positive. We’ll look into that with a subcommittee that will take a look and have some discussions in terms of what that might mean for the future and whether it can be beneficial to our conference as well as any other conference we would talk with about that. It’s early in discussions, but we want to thoroughly explore any and all possibilities that are out there in regards to that, that would prove to be mutually beneficial.
Check back Thursday for Part II, as Swofford discusses Charlotte as the future home of the ACC football championship, NCAA deregulation, future scheduling and the possibility of an ACC television network.