John Swofford

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ACC revenue increases 12% but ACC members still receive lower distributions compared to other P5 programs (for now)

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When it comes to per school revenue distribution, ACC schools are still lagging behind the rest of the power conferences, but the ACC did see its revenue for the past fiscal year jump by 12 % to a reported $418.1 million. According to tax documents reviewed by Steve Berkowitz of USA Today, the ACC paid each football member of the conference between $25.3 million and $30.7 million for the 2017 fiscal year.

The revenue distribution was up from the $23.8 million each school was paid the previous year when the total revenue distribution was reported at $373.4 million. The ACC’s revenue actually dropped last season from the year prior to that, but that was influenced by a $31.4 million exit fee paid by former ACC member Maryland as the school left the ACC for the Big Ten. Each team in the conference receives an equal base share, but the conference then supplements the distribution to adjust for bowl expenses. Because of that, Clemson was paid $30.7 million after playing in two straight College Football Playoff games, including the championship game in the 2016 season.

Notre Dame, who was paid $4 million by the ACC last year, was given a distribution of $5.8 million due to its affiliation with the ACC in other sports outside of football.

ACC commissioner John Swofford was paid $3.3 million for the fiscal year with a base salary of $3.15 million. It is the first time Swofford has been paid $3 million by the conference after coming up just shy of the $3 million mark last year.

Where does the ACC stack up against its power conference peers? On a per-school breakdown, the SEC is the absolute king with each SEC member receiving an average of $41 million in the most recent revenue distributions from the conference. The Big Ten is also comfortably ahead of the pack in total revenue, with each member receiving about $37 million for the past year. The Big 12 generated $371 million in revenue in the past year, leading to payouts of $34.3 million for its 10 members. The Pac-12 reported a revenue of $509 million for the past year with a distribution to conference members doling out $30.9 million per school.

On a per-school basis, the ACC is lagging behind the other conferences in terms of how much each school is receiving from the conference. However, the ACC is moving forward with plans to launch an ACC Network which is expected to spike the revenue figures a bit. The SEC and Big Ten have really thrived with their own networks, while the Pac-12 continues to try capitalizing on its network in a similar way. With ESPN lending a helping hand with the ACC’s network plans, the conference likely will benefit more than the Pac-12 has, which should allow ACC schools to begin pulling in more with revenue distributions following the launch of the eventual network.

John Swofford turns down volume on Notre Dame to ACC talk

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If there are any serious conversations behind closed doors between the ACC and Notre Dame about potential football membership, ACC commissioner John Swofford is not showing his cards. In a radio interview Friday morning, Swofford was asked about the rumor the conference and the Fighting Irish have had discussions, to which Swofford avoided any controversy.

Swofford said the ACC and Notre Dame have not had any such discussions about Notre Dame joining the conference in football to complete its membership in the conference, but he also didn’t slam the door shut on the potential option down the line.

Earlier this month the rumor mill got turning in wild fashion after a radio interview saw FOX Sports broadcaster Tim Brando say “conversations have taken place” about the ACC adding Notre Dame as a full member. That comment alone got the gears working on some exaggerated headlines across the Internet, some going so far as to suggest the Irish were on the verge of joining the ACC and abandoning their football independence once and for all. As I suggested at the time, there is absolutely reason to believe Notre Dame AD Jack Swarbrick has had at least some degree of conversation with the ACC about the possibility, because a good AD would at least test the water on any and all potential scenarios should the time come the university approaches its football program differently.

The latest edition of the Notre Dame to ACC rumors followed the scheduling announcement from the ACC and Notre Dame for future game sin the ACC schedule rotation with the Irish through 2037.

Swofford did drop an interesting, although completely unsurprising, nugget of information as well when he mentioned the ACC would explore adding a 16th team to the fold if Notre Dame could be added in football. That alone will be enough to keep fans of certain programs interested in the ACC’s future, although they will all have to wait for a while in all likelihood, as no changes would be expected until current media rights deals expire and are up for renewal in the next decade.

After layoffs, ESPN gave ACC “total confirmation” the linear ACC Network will launch in 2019

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Massive cutbacks and layoffs at ESPN made for an uncertain future with regard to the network’s overall plans in covering college football. A number of good reporters and writers and analysts were let go by ESPN, and more could still be coming, as the network looks to get its budget under more control. For ACC fans that have been hearing about a potential ACC Network for years now, the possibility the latest budget decisions at ESPN could alter the plans for the long-awaited network were fair to question.

Fortunately for the ACC, ESPN appears to remain fully committed to launching the network in a linear format in 2019. A memo to ACC representatives from commissioner John Swofford says ESPN President John Skipper has “total confirmation” that “the ACC/ESPN linear network launch is full speed ahead and unaffected” by ESPN’s recent layoffs and cutbacks.

A copy of the memo was posted on Twitter by North Carolina radio host David Glenn.

ESPN and the ACC announced the scheduled launch of the ACC Network last summer at the start of the conference’s football media day event in North Carolina. The two have already begun coordinating online-only streaming content with the focus on launching a traditional network similar to the SEC Network, Big Ten Network, and Pac-12 Network. As ESPN continues to transition in this new age of cord-cutting and online streaming alternatives becoming more of a worthy competitor by the day, it would make sense to focus on making the ACC Network fully equipped for the next generation of viewership.

Helmet sticker to Awful Announcing.

No decision on where 2017 ACC Championship Game will be played yet

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When the ACC pulled the ACC Championship Game out of Charlotte, North Carolina in response to the state’s controversial House Bill 2, referred to by many as the bathroom law, it was expected the ACC would make a quick return to the state as soon as the law was successfully repealed. But with the state of North Carolina’s legislature failing to repeal the bathroom law late last month, the law remains in place and that leaves the ACC left to figure out just where it will host its championship game in 2017. For now, no decisions have been made, according to ACC commissioner John Swofford.

Speaking to media today in Tampa as ACC champion Clemson prepares to face SEC champion Alabama in Monday night’s College Football Playoff national championship for a second consecutive season, Swofford suggested Orlando would likely be used as the host city for a second time. Orlando was used as the emergency host city on relatively short notice this past fall after the ACC announced it would not play its championship game in Charlotte. Charlotte has served as the host city for the ACC’s title game from 2010 through 2015. Despite holding a contract to host the ACC championship game through 2019, Charlotte had the game taken away by the ACC in September following a conference vote in response to the state’s controversial Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act targetted against members of the LGBT community.

“If something changes in the state of North Carolina, that would be welcomed,” Swofford said, according to Aaron Brenner of The Post and Courier. “But our presidents made what they believe is a principled decision in that regard as to where our championships should be held, and shouldn’t. I don’t see that principle changing.”

The 2016 ACC Championship Game was the first ACC title game to be played in Orlando and resulted in the second lowest attendance for an ACC championship game. Orlando’s Camping World Stadium has a seating capacity of 65,000 but netted a crowd of 50,628 for the game between Clemson and Virginia Tech. Each game played in Charlotte had a listed attendance of at least 64,000, with 74,514 in attendance for the 2015 championship game between Clemson and North Carolina.

Atlanta would seem to be out of the equation for the ACC because the SEC plays its championship game in Atlanta (although the doubleheader weekend potential of an ACC and SEC Championship Weekend sounds enticing). Past ACC championship games have also been played in Jacksonville and Tampa, with mixed opinions at best.

Wherever the ACC plays its championship game in 2017, Swofford made it clear he wants the conference to make a decision earlier than it did last year. That should be manageable, as last year’s decision was a relatively last-minute response to the controversial state law and public reaction intensified the longer the ACC took to respond. That should not be a concern this year, unless the ACC is waiting to see if any change to the law may be made earlier in the year. It would make sense to have the ACC have a conference championship destination locked in before the summer media days, but having this all hashed out before or during spring meetings may be more optimal if that can be arranged.

Jim Harbaugh laughs at SEC and ACC spring break practice complaints

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Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh finds humor in the SEC and ACC voicing concerns over Michigan’s plans to head to Florida for spring practices. With SEC commissioner Greg Sankey and ACC commissioner John Swofford going on record saying practicing over spring break is detrimental to the student-athlete and NCAA president Mark Emmert suggesting he is no fan of the concept, Harbaugh had no other way of responding but to suggest it was comical.

“I guess (Sankey) is stating a case, but it doesn’t hold water to me,” Harbaugh said Friday to the Detroit Free Press. “It’s not an addition of time, it’s the same amount of time. It’s 20 hours. We’ll be on the same rules and guidelines every other team will be under on spring practice. I think there’s been some humor about it. I think it’s comical that he’s taken exception to it.”

Earlier today Michigan announced plans to hold its annual spring game on the evening of April 1. Tucked away at the bottom of that press release was a confirmation Michigan will be heading to Bradenton, Florida for the opening of spring football practices, as originally planned and confirmed by Harbaugh.

Emmert says the NCAA will review the policies regarding practice time over spring break, seemingly listening to the request filed by the SEC recently. The SEC asked the NCAA to come to a resolution that would fall in line with SEC spring break rules, and asked that that ruling be made as quickly as possible. It may be too late for anything to be done this season, but if Emmert’s voice is any indication, this could be the first and last time Michigan takes its football practices out of state.Or will it?

Or will it?

UPDATE (7:10 P.M.) – Harbaugh has taken to Twitter…