Maybe, just maybe, conference realignment has settled down

dshirley@macon.comApril 26, 2013 

Finally.

Thankfully.

Hopefully.

Those were the first three thoughts that ran through my mind when the ACC’s council of presidents announced Monday that the conference’s 15 members signed a grant of media rights.

What does that really mean? The ACC should stabilize through 2026-27.

Why is that? Well, the grant of media rights means that the 15 members that signed the agreement can’t jump to another conference without losing their money from media agreements. If a school did leave the ACC, all that money would stay with the ACC no matter what conference the school ended up in.

Think about that for a second. If a school like Georgia Tech jumped to another conference, the Yellow Jackets’ media money would belong to the ACC.

That would make it almost impossible for a school to leave. What school wants to give away that much money, or more importantly, what school would be able to survive giving away that much money? And what conference would want to accept a school that had to give away that much money? What would a school offer that would make it attractive enough to overcome that kind of loss?

It just wouldn’t make any sense, and it’s not likely to happen any time soon. That’s a good thing for the schools involved, the ACC and the entire nation.

The conference realignment that has swirled around college athletics the past few years has been silly from the start, and it really has gotten out of hand. Most of us wouldn’t be able to name every team in each conference this season or what teams will be in what conference next year or the year after that. All the changes have thrown college athletics into chaos, and that has hurt the product.

Hopefully, some of that will stop now, or at least slow down, especially with the major conferences. There will be some more changes, for sure; the Southern Conference is one conference that is looking for teams (with Mercer supposedly one of the targets). But for the BCS conferences or big six conferences, whatever you want to label them, all this foolishness should settle down.

Finally.

Thankfully.

Hopefully.

There was talk the ACC was vulnerable and would be raided by other conferences: Big 12 (Clemson and Florida State), SEC (Virginia Tech and N.C. State) and Big Ten (Georgia Tech and North Carolina). None of that talk really made much sense, but not many of the moves in realignment have.

The ACC’s move Monday proved all that talk was just that … talk. Clemson, North Carolina and N.C. State were original members of the ACC, and thankfully they showed loyalty to the conference they have called home for so many years.

Georgia Tech and Florida State were the next to join the conference, and they could have fit in with the other conferences mentioned, but they wouldn’t have been the right fit. Ask West Virginia about moving just to move and see how the Mountaineers like being in the Big 12; they gladly would have joined the ACC a couple of years ago but were rebuked. Maryland will find out the grass isn’t always greener, as well, when it jumps to the Big Ten.

And any school would love to join the powerful SEC, but did anyone really believe Virginia Tech would break away from Virginia to join another conference? That wasn’t going to happen.

The ACC has been a strong conference for decades, and the world of college athletics is better when it is. Monday’s announcement will make the ACC a viable leader for some time, along with the SEC, Big 12, Pac-12 and Big Ten. The Big East has dropped back from that lead group, but even the Big East has stabilized some with a core group of steady schools instead of having, seemingly, different schools aligned for each different sport.

There will continue to be some smaller moves the next few years (schools like Connecticut, Cincinnati, BYU and Boise State are all still in play), but the ACC likely won’t be poached again any time soon.

That’s a move that is good for the conference and all of its member schools.

Contact Daniel Shirley at 744-4227 or dshirley@macon.com

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