We attended the presser of ACC Commissioner Jim Phillips and had these takeaways:
-The call/support for expansion of CFB playoffs wasn’t a surprise. More playoff teams means more games which equals more money and you get the idea. Every conference wants the possibility of having multiple teams in the playoffs as we’ve seen the benefits of that for the SEC with Alabama and Georgia as recently as last year. The question is whether the ACC have enough teams to be in that position in its current formation and I’m even including Notre Dame in that thought.
-Speaking of Notre Dame, Phillips supports the Fighting Irish and would like to have it as a full-time member in all sports but also respects its independence. With the expansion aspirations of the Big Ten (see Southern Cal and UCLA) and the SEC (see Texas and Oklahoma), its becoming clear that Notre Dame’s days as a football independent may be numbered. We’ll see what happens.
-The sentence from Phillips that got the most attention at least on my side of the room was that in relation to conference realignment/expansion, the ACC is strong but continuing to evaluate all opportunities carefully.
-Phillips promoted Title IX and Olympic sports. That’s always a positive in our book and the majority of our college sports coverage are on Olympic sports (look it up). The ACC actually stands up well nationally in these sports competing for championships so that wasn’t a surprise.
-Phillips made note that college athletics isn’t “professional” sports like NFL or NBA lite. With the continued revenue generated by college athletics and the NIL providing outside financial compensation for athletes, that statement isn’t completely true. College athletics has always had professional sports elements to it and its becoming closer to resembling each other.
-Speaking of the NIL, Phillips called for more regulation if it. That’s a fair point because its wide open out there with different programs operating in different states without universal or federal rules. However, its always been that way. Programs in the Power Five conferences (I’ll throw in Notre Dame) have a distinct advantage over schools in other conferences. I see it often when I’m covering Georgia State out of the Sun Belt in comparison with Georgia Tech in the ACC and Georgia in the SEC. Even a program like Georgia State gets a boost being in the middle of Atlanta compared to Power Five schools in smaller conference. I don’t know how you regulate it but steps could be made.
-Phillips stated that bowls matter to the health of college football. I agree with that sentiment, who doesn’t enjoy a bowl game in the middle of December? It also gives an incentive for teams to compete towards a finish line/reward. However, so much attention goes into the playoffs that even the major bowls that aren’t in the rotation say for example the Sugar Bowl or Orange Bowl in some years suffer. I don’t think bowls will ever be completely eliminated due to the revenue particularly on the television side.
-Phillips promoted the healthy and safety of players including a 365-day universal calendar. Similar to Title IX and the Olympic sports, there’s no argument there
-Finally, Phillips stated that revenue distribution may include performance incentives and all options are on the table. When you have programs like Clemson in football, Duke in men’s basketball or oehter ones I’m not thinking of continually perform consistently on a national championship level, they’re going to have questions about revenue distribution. Fair to have that in open conversation.