ACC Commish Swofford Believes Conference Is 'Solid as 12'
The ACC was once an aggressor in this area, expanding to 12 teams earlier this decade in an attempt to strengthen its status as a major player, and not an afterthought, in football. Miami, Virginia Tech and Boston College switched allegiances from the Big East to the ACC.
ACC commissioner John Swofford told the media Monday during the league's spring meetings that the ACC will have a plan in place should conference expansion once again bulldoze the college landscape.
Yet, he also admitted, at least publicly, that the ACC is not the aggressor in the latest chatter concerning expansion.
"I would expect that we're very solid as 12 (teams)," Swofford told the Orlando Sentinel.
"That's the message that I am receiving from our schools and the commitment that they made to each other not too long ago -- seven years ago. We will be very aware and conscious of what's going on around us and what the potentialities may be in terms of changes. And we'll see what transpires over the next six months or so."
One ACC official told FanHouse Monday afternoon that he expects the expansion musical chairs to begin in earnest this summer, an opinion reported by the media over the past weeks.
The ACC is holding its annual three-day meetings on Amelia Island, near Jacksonville, Fla. Of course, like the sands of time, the landscape of college football has shifted dramatically since the ACC last expanded in 2003.
If the Big Ten expands as predicted, conventional wisdom has the SEC raiding the ACC for multiple schools. Schools that would seem to fit that profile include Florida State, Miami and Georgia Tech.
FSU had longed aspired to be a member of the SEC before its rise to national football prominence, starting in the late 1980s, under coach Bobby Bowden. The Seminoles, however, opted to join in the ACC in 1991.
Swofford stressed the ACC won't be caught off guard.
"I don't think any conference would be doing its due diligence if you stuck your head in the sand, so to speak. And we will not do that," Swofford told the Sentinel.
The ACC is also in the midst of its negotiation for a new football deal, which expires in 2011. The ACC is attempting to keep pace with the SEC's contract with ESPN and CBS, which are worth a combined $3 billion over 15 years. Swofford hopes to have a television finalized in the coming days.
Swofford, who replaced Gene Corrigan as the ACC commissioner in 1997, says the ACC will also be prepared to act if conference expansion happens.
"That's part of being prepared and being thorough in what you're doing as a conference," Swofford told the Sentinel.
"Doesn't mean that we would change, necessarily. But, it's case of doing due diligence and being prepared and being nimble if you need to be so."