There are a couple of eye-opening quotes from Clemson’s AD in this Q&A piece worth noting. First, if you want to understand why the ACC seems to be teetering on some sort of precipice these days, here’s why:
… The conference and the membership well understand what is happening. For example, in this latest contract with ESPN, 80% of it is generated by football. As good as basketball has been in the ACC, it is very evident just through this contract that football has to be very, very relevant.
Raiding the Big East for Pitt and Syracuse may look great from a basketball perspective, but it doesn’t do a damned thing for football. Too bad that’s where the money is. And the ACC has had a hard time understanding that lately, which is kind of surprising, given that the moves that brought FSU, Miami and Virginia Tech into the conference were all driven by football.
But here’s the sobering part of the conversation:
… For example this new contract has two look-in windows- one at five years and one at 10 years. The purpose of that – in talking with ESPN people and our people in the same room – is to look at the end of five years where are we- competitively, what’s our performance, and does it merit a significant increase in the rights fee. There’s no question that on ESPN, the rights to television money is larger than any other conference. They’ve got other- the SEC has CBS and other conferences have other carriers, but there is tremendous exposure for the ACC football games as well as basketball games and other Olympic sports. As far as exposure, it’s a very good contract. Dollar wise as far as what ESPN is paying, it’s at the top, but overall because of the lack of CBS, you don’t have the same kind of dollars that other conferences have. But, having said that, ESPN has made it very clear that the purpose of writing in those look-ins is to see where we are in five years. You don’t wait until the end of the 15 years to say, ‘hey, how are we doing?’ That’s the purpose of the five-year and the ten-year look-in to challenge our conference and all of us associated with the conference know that football is extremely important and we have to perform and do everything we can to perform. [Emphasis added.]
The WWL insisted on writing look-in provisions into the new TV deal. That’s not exactly a vote of confidence in your long-term prospects, ACC.