New Hokies AD recently attended ACC winter meetings.

BLACKSBURG -- Virginia Tech is Whit Babcock’s sixth job in college sports administration, his first in the ACC. But the Hokies’ new athletic director grew up an ACC fan in Harrisonburg, knows all his league colleagues and re-established connections with them last month at the conference’s winter meetings.

With April’s grant of rights securing ACC membership long-term, Babcock arrives in the league of his youth at a time of stability, great promise and competitive challenges offered by newcomers Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Notre Dame and Louisville, the latter replacing Big Ten-bound Maryland in 2014-15.

This second part of my interview transcript with Babcock focuses on ACC and national matters.

Question: As the AD at Cincinnati, were you, after Maryland left, in a horse race with Louisville to get into the ACC?

Answer: Well, I was at West Virginia in 2003, 2004 when (alignment) first started. And then I was at Missouri when we thought we were into the Big Ten, and then Nebraska jumped in. And the day I took the Cincinnati job was the day all the formalities were over and the SEC offer (to Missouri) came, and I walked into my boss’s office, and he said, ‘We finally did it. It’s over.’ And I said, ‘Hey, I’ve got something to tell you, Boss.’

It showed me, and he was great, Mike Alden at Missouri, and I was right there beside him for the Big Ten stuff and the SEC. So I learned some things to do. But I also learned that a lot of it is out of your control. It’s university presidents and the conference making those decisions. I got to Cincinnati a little late in the game, and we tried to play catch up. But what (athletic director) Tom Jurich did (at Louisville) is the model that we tried to follow, Tom Jurich just had a 15-year head start. The stuff he did at Louisville, I believe they expanded the football stadium after they went 2-10. He got the Yum Center built. All their facilities. He was just on down the road, way ahead of his time.

And I don’t fault anyone at Cincinnati for it, but they just weren’t as progressive on that front, and by the time we realized it, when I got there, we were playing catch-up. And now you see $86 million worth of work on (the) football (stadium), and I think you will soon see at Cincinnati that either the downtown will build an arena, or (the university) will figure out a way to do that. I hope for their sake that it’s not too late, but who knows, the door may be closed on (another conference).

But that process, you can politic on that to a certain extent, and I called (then-Virginia Tech AD) Jim Weaver a few times and talked to him. But in conference realignment, they do their homework. They know more about your school practically than you do. And then at the end of the day you realize, I better control what I can control. At least at Cincinnati, the way I went about it was we just need to build the best athletic department we can in the quickest manner because if there was realignment, we’ll be well-positioned for it, and if there’s not, we’d better darn sure be the preeminent program in the American Athletic Conference.

That’s what we were working toward, and either way, the recipe was the same: Build the best, most sound, most attractive athletic department, elevate your school’s academics. … I wish them well and I hope one day Cincinnati’s in a (power) conference. But I’m not worried about Cincinnati anymore. I love ‘em, but this is my new family and I’m much more interested in Virginia Tech. But it is nice to be on this side of the fence.

Q: What is your sense with realignment and the various grants of rights that have been signed? Do you think we’re in a lull?

A: I do think it’s a lull. I think the ACC is very stable and comfortable with their number, and I don’t disagree with that. Again, I root for Cincinnati, but I understand the ACC’s position. Everything could change tomorrow, but I think everything is on hold. I really think the college football playoff will dictate everything.

I’ll use this as an example: You have the Big 12 — they only have 10 teams and no championship game. If they get left out (of the playoff) several years, then they could (make a move). And television and money could drive it. If you have more conference teams you have more inventory of games. But for right now, I think there’s a lull. Do I think it’s over forever? Probably not, but if the door is cracked, I don’t think it’s cracked very much. I think everybody has hit the pause button on that a little bit. … I think the days of people thinking there will be four 16-team mega-conferences, thanks to (ACC commissioner) John Swofford, I don’t see that happening.

Q: You talk about not being able to control things. Virginia Tech was not getting into the ACC until, this is a bizarre story.

A: The state of Virginia (intervened). … John Swofford and I have talked about it. He’s thrilled with Virginia Tech. It’s a great fit. … Virginia Tech has a really good name in this league, and I do think if we handle business right, we can be the preeminent school in this league. I really do believe that.

Q: In terms of the ACC, and you mentioned going on a listening tour when you went down to Lauderdale for the winter meetings, do you think we’re moving toward a nine-game conference football schedule? Is that something you have an opinion on?

A: We talked about that, but I was the rookie at the table and just kept my mouth shut and listened to them, and we’re going to revisit it again, I believe, at our May meetings. So there was a lot of dialogue about eight games versus nine games.

The thing that makes it tough, two things. On the year that you have Notre Dame, it’s like having eight-and-a-half conference games, right? Really nine. So if you have eight conference games and then Notre Dame and then a ninth conference game, you’ve got 10 really difficult games.

And I’ll tell you, I’m excited, but I also shake my head a little bit, the scheduling that’s been done here. We’ve got Wisconsin home-and-home, we’ve got Michigan home-and-home, we’ve got West Virginia. …

Q: And Ohio State.

A: Goodness gracious. I’m all for playing really tough teams, and our fans love it, but the same fans that love seeing us play them would like to see us beat them, too.