Swofford wraps up ACC meetings

Written by Sam Werner on .

AMELIA ISLAND, Fla. — The league's spring meetings wrapped up here this morning. The coaches were mostly gone, but the athletic directors met with conference officials this morning. That's when any votes would have taken place, but there were no major announcements to come out of these meetings. We did get a chance to meet with ACC commissioner John Swofford after the meetings were done, and here's a few quotes from him...

On potentially moving the ACC Tournament: "I think we'll just have to wait and see on that. Our tournament has tremendous tradition and history in North Carolina, and that's where it was built over a long period of time. We have, obviously, a new footprint and a very exciting new footprint and an unbelievable set of basketball programs that may be unrivaled at any time in the history of college basketball in any one conference. I think it's appropriate for us to kind of go through this process with the new membership in a very thorough and diligent way that will serve the conference well for many years to come.
"There's a great history [in Greensboro], there's a great tradition there that needs to be meshed with what can be an unbelievable future from a basketball standpoint and a tournament standpoint. That's what our membership will be trying to do is mesh those two things going forward in the best possible way."

On future locations for the league's championship game (held in Charlotte since 2010): "We've been really pleased, by and large, with Charlotte, in terms of the football championships. That has not been a major part of our discussions in these meetings. This is contractually our last year in Charlotte with the upcoming championship game, and we'll get into those discussions between now and December, in terms of the future site of the championship game. Two of the three years it's been there it's been sold out and they've done a terrific job with the events surrounding the game. The feedback we've gotten from our schools that have played in it has been very good."

On how the new teams help the league negotiate bowl deals: "Our inventory is deeper and stronger, and that's helpful. It is Notre Dame, obviously, but it's also Louisville, Pitt and Syracuse as well. When you couple those schools together with the ones we have, and you just visualize that, it's just a much stronger, deeper pool form a bowl standpoint as well as just a general overall football potential standpoint going forward. Basketball-wise, as I said, it'll knock you out when you look at it from that standpoint, and I think the football potential for that group is basically unlimited."

On the ACC doing better in bowl play, specifically in the BCS (the ACC has a 3-13 all-time record in BCS games): "That's how you're ultimately judged. The bowl season was, that's what we need more of in a more consistent way. Our four top teams won and they won against some pretty good brands as well. We just need to be more consistent with that. One thing about our schools is we're playing tougher non-conference schedules than any other major conference. It's not like we're not playing people. Overall we're giving ourselves opportunities and hopefully we can take advantage of those opportunities."

On ACC schools continuing to play FCS teams: "We haven't made a conference decision about that, which means it's an institutional decision. The Big Ten, geographically, the Mid-American Conference is right there. I think it'd be fair to say there's not a strong FCS conference in there geographic footprint. Our league has a long history with the Southern Conference, for instance. Same with the SEC. You do have to look at it [on] an institutional basis, and where you're located and what your history has ben. I think our coaches feel that our schedules, if done the right way institutionally, can be strong enough with an FCS opponent in some cases. They won't be hurt in terms of the new selection process."

On how he envisions the College Football Playoff selection committee being comprised: "I'm not sure yet, in total. This is a process and we're at a point now where we can really focus on it. Up until now, there's been a lot of other things to focus on: deciding to do the playoff to begin with, to the all-important revenue sharing discussions, to who's going to host the first championship game, who's going to be additional host bowls. There's been discussion about the committee along the way, but it's never been the focus and hadn't had the full energy and attention of the commissioners and [Notre Dame athletic director] Jack [Swarbrick] until now because of all the other decisions that had to be made. It wasn't totally ignored, obviously, but it's been kind of conceptual and 'Let's throw out some names.' We've got to kind of work our way through this and so forth. It'll be interesting to see because it's a challenge. I'm confident that we'll reach and endpoint where there's a committee of great integrity and legitimacy that can certainly do the job, but it's challenging to structure the very first one. The basketball committee and all the other NCAA sport committees are made up in similar fashion. It's probably appropriate that that be considered here as well, although a lot of the conversation has been about other individuals. Certainly the idea is people that know the game, are highly respected and bring a great deal of integrity to the group because it will be scrutinized tremendously picking only four teams."

And there you have it. That's a wrap from this year's ACC meetings in Amelia Island. As you can see, nothing exciting like a TV network announcement or even a bowl lineup, but a lot of progress made on several important issues. The ADs and conference officials laid a lot of groundwork this week that will come to votes in future meetings, and hopefully some tangible results.

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