Atlantic Coast Conference commissioner John Swofford had his annual state-of-the-conference session with reporters attending the league's football kickoff Sunday, and not surprisingly, the prime topic was the Southeastern Conference's unrivaled $3 billion television contract with CBS and ESPN.
While Swofford didn't say this precisely, he knows the score: With this economy and the ACC's recent football struggles, the league has no hope of matching the SEC's record haul.
"It's hard to make the playing field level," Swofford said. "That's always been the case."
Two years remain on the ACC's football and basketball deals with Raycom and ESPN/ABC that net each member school approximately $6.5 million per year. The SEC's 15-year partnership could be worth $16 million per school annually.
Think that gives the SEC, which finalized its deal before the economy imploded, an edge in upgrading facilities and paying coaches? Think recruits will be lured by the unmatched television exposure?
"That's quite a contract the SEC signed," Swofford said. "There's a new standard set there."
The ACC has started preliminary renegotiations with its partners, and Swofford stressed that many programs and conferences often thrive despite financial hardships.
"With all that said," he conceded, "I'd rather have a lot than a little."
Indeed, the ACC's climb toward the SEC in football will soon become steeper than ever.
Brunswick High's finestThere's no debating the finest basketball player in Brunswick High history. That would be former Virginia All-American Bryant Stith.
The best football product to hail from the small school in Lawrenceville? There haven't been many marquee players, though North Carolina defensive end E.J. Wilson is making a bid.
Wilson, a 6-foot-3, 280-pound senior, is preparing for his third season as a Tar Heels starter. Last year he led UNC with 13 quarterback hurries.
Virginia and Virginia Tech recruited Wilson, he said Sunday at the ACC's football kickoff, but "I wanted to pave my own way. I didn't want to be another state player who went to Virginia or Virginia Tech."
Wilson was an all-district receiver and defensive back as a Brunswick senior but was perhaps best known for leading the school to a state basketball championship. He played AAU hoops for Richmond-based Tony Squire, and his teammates included U.Va. quarterback Jameel Sewell and former Cavaliers defensive end Jeffrey Fitzgerald.
Much as Wilson wanted to make a name out of state, he and the Tar Heels have struggled against the Cavaliers and Hokies. In Wilson's three seasons, North Carolina is 0-6 against Coastal Division rivals Virginia and Virginia Tech.
Until that trend abates, the talk about the Tar Heels' emergence under coach Butch Davis is just that: talk.
No debating the bestWhile Florida State coach Bobby Bowden awaits final word from the NCAA regarding whether he'll be able to keep 14 wins on his coaching record in the wake of the athletic program's academic fraud scandal, Seminoles linebacker Dekoda Watson has his own opinion regarding his coach.
"I look at it like this," Watson said. "Bobby Bowden told me he doesn't care about those games. Even if they take those games, he's still coach Bobby Bowden. He's still the … winningest coach out there. Everybody knows what he did. It may not say it on paper, but he's a legend."Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times