Through Conference Realignment, The ACC Takes Manhattan


Jul 1, 2013; New York, NY, USA; (L to R) Syracuse basketball coach Jim Boeheim, Virginia Tech football coach Frank Beamer, former Pitt football All-American Larry Fitzgerald, ACC commissioner John Swofford, Florida State football coach Jimbo Fisher, and Notre Dame basketball coach Mike Brey attend the ACC press conference at the Nasdaq Marketsite. Mandatory Credit: Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlantic Coast Conference rang in a new era for the conference by ringing the closing bell at the NASDAQ Stock Market.

Commissioner John Swofford, along with an entourage of Larry Fitzgerald, Jim Boeheim, Frank Beamer, Mike Brey and Jimbo Fisher, appeared at NASDAQ as part of a promotional tour through New York City.

The conference also used the excursion as an opportunity for viral social media content, like the below Vine featuring the mascots of new member Syracuse and affiliate Notre Dame.

There was a lot more at play on this trip than a few photo opportunities and quirky social media posts, however.

Conference realignment is predicated on leagues strengthening their brand, through increased geographical footprint and fan base. More areas covered and fans reached translates to a larger slice of the ever-swelling revenue pie.

For the ACC, expanding its regional foundation was perhaps more of a necessity than for other conferences. Sharing real estate with that college football behemoth that is the SEC means ACC football is relegated to second chair in the Southeast.

Northern expansion offers the conference refuge in fertile ground. New York City is the nation’s top television market, and thus a logical strategic choice for the new-look league to plant its flag.

A year ago at this time, there was no shortage of pundits predicting the ACC’s imminent demise. Fueled in part by the unsourced and perhaps disingenuous rumor-mongering of certain “dudes,” speculation that the ACC could lose vital pieces like Florida State and Clemson ran rampant.

Yet despite losing Maryland to the Big Ten in 2014, the ACC is stronger now than it was a year ago. What has often been regarded as the strongest basketball conference for much of the past three decades scored big with the additions of Syracuse, Pitt and most recently, defending national champion Louisville.

But this round of conference realignment has largely been built on football and the revenue it generates. To that end, the ACC faces uncertainty.

The conference’s quality of play is disparaged. Its failings on the national level since adding Miami and Virginia Tech are well-documented. No program has carried the ACC banner into the BCS championship game since Florida State in the 2000 season.

The 2011 season marked the ACC’s first with multiple BCS participants, but Clemson and Virginia Tech both went on to lose their games.

But the immediate future offers promise. Three teams that will reside under the ACC brand name by next year played in BCS games last season. Two — Florida State and Louisville — won. The third, Notre Dame, played for the national championship.

The ACC also scored an important victory over the SEC, when Clemson knocked off LSU in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl. CU carries that momentum into 2013 with a very realistic shot of playing for the sport’s biggest prize.

With Heisman Trophy contender Tajh Boyd, the Tigers must fend off challenges from reigning conference champion Florida State, upward trending Miami and a Virginia Tech team with the pieces for a bounce-back season.

The conference’s most noteworthy football programs are improving at the right time. Add the growing stock of Clemson, Florida State and potentially Miami to Notre Dame’s partnership, and the ACC boasts the potential for a very viable, national product.

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Tags: Clemson Tigers Football Notre Dame Fighting Irish Pittsburgh Panthers Syracuse Orange

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