“Even with the Chick-fil-A Bowl not being a guaranteed stop, I think our lineup will be enhanced,” Swofford said. “And hopefully we’ll be in Atlanta periodically with teams in the football playoff mix. We sort of look at Atlanta as being part of the potential mix for our teams. … Certainly Notre Dame in that mix below the playoff is meaningful.”
Could future bowl tie-ins be resolved next week at Amelia Island?
“It’s hard to tell,” Swofford said. “In a best-case scenario, we might have some decisions coming out of Amelia at the end of next week. … We had two days of meetings in Charlotte last week with a subcommittee of our athletic directors, and we met with all of our current bowl partners as well as some potential partners that are not currently in our mix.”
The Pinstripe Bowl, played at Yankee Stadium, is another natural partner for the ACC given its stronger Northeast presence. Virginia Tech athletic director Jim Weaver, who serves on the league’s bowl subcommittee, is mining his connections with the Yankees – the team played an exhibition at Tech to raise money after the 2007 campus shooting.
“We’re pretty much on a parallel course with the other conferences,” Swofford said, “because to ties these things down, there are three parties with each one: who we would be playing as well as the bowl itself.”
“We may pool bowls and have a little more freedom in putting together matchups that make the most sense for schools and fans and the bowls themselves,” Swofford said, “to avoid teams going back to the same place in consecutive years, or playing the same (opponents) in consecutive years. So we’re looking at some things that could add a little more flexibility in order put the most attractive matchups together, and the matchups that make the most sense geographically as well.”
The ACC has historically pooled bowl revenue after expenses and shared it evenly. But with the football playoff set to generate another windfall, I asked Swofford if the ACC is considering rewarding its football champion, or playoff teams, with a bonus.
“There’s some discussion about that,” he said. “There’s some preliminary ideas that have been thrown out just for consideration.”
Were any schools reluctant about the grant of rights assured of revenue-sharing changes in exchange for their support?
“No, no, no,” Swofford said.
Swofford was less adamant about possible changes to the ACC’s football divisions, a popular topic among fans, many of whom prefer a more geographic split.
“I think there can always be tweaks,” Swofford said, “if and when our member schools want to do that. We’ve had a lot of discussion about that topic over the last couple of years, as you would expect with the new schools coming, and at each point ultimately the schools end up at that same place, and that is maintaining the divisions as they currently exist with Louisville filling the (Atlantic Division) slot that Maryland had.”
Finally, I asked Swofford if the ACC might next week determine future venues for its men’s basketball tournament.
“That’s probably a little aggressive,” he said, “but we’re making a lot of progress on those discussions. The discussions were altered a bit with the change in the Big East and getting a familiarity with New York. That is the media capital of the world, and we’re going to have a strong presence in the Northeast, and at the same time the tournament has a great tradition and history and has really been built in the state of North Carolina in Greensboro and Charlotte. We’re looking at all of that very carefully. We’ve got two more years in Greensboro, so it’s not like we have a gun to our head on that.”
“I can’t really answer that yet,” Swofford said.
Perhaps some answers will emerge next week.
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