The ACC issued a three-paragraph release Monday that put to rest any lingering rumors that the ACC wasn't long for this world. First paragraph: "The Atlantic Coast Conference council of presidents announced today that each of the current and future 15-member institutions has signed a grant of media rights, effective immediately."
This means each ACC school has pledged that money for its TV rights through the conclusion of the conference's contract with ESPN, which runs through 2027, will remain with the ACC no matter where that school happens to reside. If, say, Georgia Tech decided to move to the Big Ten, Georgia Tech's TV money would go not to the Big Ten but to the ACC. Which, bottom-line, means Georgia Tech won't be moving to the Big Ten.
Of the Big Six conferences -- the dissolution of the Big East leaves only a Big Five -- the ACC was considered most vulnerable. Maryland's brazen jump to the Big Ten, even after the ACC had instituted its $50 million buyout, left a lot of folks shaken, and during the Midwest Regional in Indianapolis a man who works for the Louisville athletic department asked me: "Is it true that North Carolina is jumping to the Big Ten, too?" (Having seen the Big East collapse around them, the Cardinals are sensitive to this sort of thing.)
I told him I didn't think so, but the next afternoon Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski sounded a note of warning to the conference many people think he controls, saying that the ACC had to capitalize on the assemblage of "the best basketball conference, I think, ever." He also said: "We shouldn't look at where football is or whatever ... Our league was founded on basketball."
Krzyzewski said this, too: "I think (it's a matter of) how you use your assets, how we position them TV‑wise. Does our conference develop its own TV network?"
With the grant of media rights, institution of an ACC network seems a logical next step. (The Big Ten has its own network, and the SEC is about to launch its in conjunction with ESPN.) But the greater point made in Monday's three-paragraph release was that the flurry of conference realignment we've seen the past three years is near its end. With 15 ACC names removed from the field, there aren't many big-name schools left to grab. That's good news.
The ACC takes a beating, especially in these environs, as being Little Brother to the mighty SEC, and in football that's true. But there is, as Krzyzewski asserted, more to college athletics than football. I know it doesn't seem that way, but there is.
Fifteen days ago, 75,000 folks packed the Georgia Dome to watch a national championship game that did not include a team from the SEC, and the resulting champ -- Louisville, which also played for the NCAA women's title and beat Florida in the Sugar Bowl this calendar year -- will take up residence in the ACC next season. And the ACC will remain in place for many more years. Hooray.