As he has throughout this turbulent offseason, ACC commissioner John Swofford on Sunday hailed the conference as strong, secure and stable.
“There’s just plus after plus after plus,” Swofford said at the league’s annual preseason football media function.
This runs counter to the various death knells pronounced in blogs and on Twitter, and attributed to “sources” who knew, just knew, that Florida State and Clemson would bail for the Big 12, leaving the ACC to crumble like stale bread.
Uh, not so much.
“For all of the great things about social media and what it’s brought to our collective lives, it does … create some problems,” Swofford said. “Unfortunately, a lot of the information that’s put out there – there is no basis or truth to it.”
Swofford called conference affiliation “a sexy subject. Everybody likes to say ‘I know something you don’t know.’ Consequently, there’s some irresponsible information that gets out there.”
Daring again to contradict omniscient bloggers, Swofford said the ACC’s new television deal with ESPN is “excellent” and provides “a great deal of security monetarily as well as from an exposure standpoint.”
Late last week, Swofford traveled to Clemson, at the invitation of university president James Barker, and met with the Board of Trustees. Swofford said it was the first time he had spoken with a school’s full board.
Asked how certain he is of Clemson’s commitment to the ACC, Swofford said: “In a word, totally.”
Swofford was equally upbeat about the conference’s renewal of Orange Bowl ties, which keeps the league’s champion in an elite postseason game. He also acknowledged, for the umpteenth time, the ACC’s need to perform better in non-conference settings and produce elite, top-five teams.
“National perception is driven by your best team,” Swofford said.
“We just have to take advantage of the opportunities and win games,” he added. “You just have to believe that day will come.”
Swofford said the ACC’s long-term viability has “never been an issue in my mind, at all. You’re looking at a league that has a group of schools that are together for all the right reasons.”
While many proclaim the Southeastern Conference, Big 12, Pacific 12 and Big Ten college football’s Big Four, Swofford has insisted the ACC is part of a Big Five.
“Obviously I’m not the only one who believes that,” he said, “or we wouldn’t have the place at the table that we have.”
Finally, Swofford addressed lingering scandals at Miami (improper benefits) and North Carolina (improper benefits and academic fraud).
“We’ve had a few that have clustered here recently that you just simply do not like to see,” he said. “You want them cleared up and put behind you and you don’t want to see them again.”
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