Mark: Martin, we're back for another week of #goacc chatting and want to start off by asking you if you've been comfortable with what has been about two weeks of good publicity for the ACC and John Swofford. Can you get used to living in a world where the other shoe isn't always about to drop?
Martin: No I am not comfortable with that. I fully expect Virginia Tech's entire offensive line to be investigated by the FBI for reenacting the plot of Boiler Room. The ACC is supposed to be the Charlie Brown conference, so if there isn't a raincloud overhead, I get immediately suspicious. As a naturally paranoid person in the first place, I'm just waiting for the conference as a whole to be announced as the first colonists on Mars.
Mark: See, and this is the flip side to having conference stability. If something goes horrifically wrong at a school in your conference, you are stuck with these people until their homeowner's insurance approves their claim to rebuild the garage.
Martin: Who knows when that is, Mark? Who knows? Virginia is still waiting to start digging its in-ground pool.
Mark: So let's go from there. The SEC and its fans are basking in the glow of the recent announcement of the forthcoming SEC Network. Since the ACC agreed to its grant of rights, all of the talk has shifted to such a network being a priority for the ACC. Do you think it'll eventually happen? And if so, will there be half as much fanfare for it?
Martin: I do, and half as much fanfare might be plenty. The idea of being able to watch basketball, the non-revenue sports plus football games on a devoted ACC Network that will finally punch standard definition Raycom games off UPN and ESPN3 and onto a dedicated portal is an exciting one. I think we're getting there, and it'll be soon. The transition would be pretty seamless; plenty of the broadcast teams could stay together, and it would be an easy thing to integrate with ACC Digital. The question is, will you be able to get it on DirecTV?
Mark: Great question! I read today that in one market where folks have been clamoring for the Pac-12 Network, DirecTV added even more subscribers than it had previously. So not having that network doesn't seem to be hurting DirecTV right now. Still, those are networks not wholly owned by ESPN like the SEC Network will be, and I imagine the ACC Network will be as well. You'd like to think they will have an easier time of it.
Martin: So you think ESPN will own the ACC Network? You don't think OWN will swoop in and snatch it up?
Mark: If any network is going to swoop in, it would have to be Lifetime. The network where every single show is either the Golden Girls or a show about a woman finally escaping an abusive relationship.
Martin: Don't forget the movies. If you haven't sat and watched Lifetime movies on a Saturday in the offseason you're doing it wrong.
Mark: I'd be willing to bet that written into actor's union contracts is a guaranteed spot in a Lifetime Original Movie if you've been unemployed for two years or longer. I mean, Tony Danza? Brooke Burns?
Martin: Dean Cain has made a killing popping up in those. What would you be most excited about if an ACC Network came to fruition? Original programming? Baseball? Field Hockey? Golf tournaments?
Mark: The funny thing about these conference networks is that, even if you mock the ACC football product, and Lord knows it often deserves it, the non-football content on a future ACC Network would have to be the best out of all of them, right? Men's and women's basketball, lacrosse, men's and women's soccer, hockey and baseball are all going to be top notch.
Martin: Plus we finally have a place to have the premiere of the Tim Brando sex tape!
Martin: Uhh...moving on.
Mark: Basking in the glow of his grant of rights victory, Swofford has been doing a number of interviews and in one with David Teel, he mentioned the possibility of playing overseas basketball and football games. You like that move for the ACC?
Martin: Oh god, do I. UVA vs. VT at Stonehedge. An American Coast Conference in Paris. I get that it's a novelty for some people, but watching Notre Dame play in Ireland was one of the coolest moments of the season last year, plus think about the athletes. A lot of those kids don't get to do study abroad programs because of their dedication to the sport, and study abroad is often a student's favorite part of college. This gives them a chance to see the world and expose the sport to a new audience.
Mark: See, I'm equally positive on this, and the jokes about it get on my nerves sometimes. If Larry Scott was talking about having Oregon and USC play in China, he's be hailed as a genius and a visionary. Playing an ACC game in Europe? The jokes commence. It's silly, but the ACC seems to have picked up the Big East's make-fun-of-whatever-they-do-no-matter-how-inconsistent-the-joke-is-with-reality mantle.
Martin: Some of that is self-made. We have a sense of humor about ourselves and we're okay with it. Most of the jokes start at the source. And man an Oregon-USC game in Shanghai would be amazing.
Mark: Self-loathing to some degree or another is a thing for pretty much every conference fan except for SEC fans. Right?
Martin: Yeah, just look at Big Ten fans outside of some haughty do-no-wrong Buckeyes. They're a hilarious bunch. You've gotta be to live in the Midwest. I should know; there's gotta be a reason I voluntarily choose to live here.
Mark: Speaking of do-no-wrong fans, FSU fans have clamored for some kind of changes to be made to the ACC divisions. Specifically, it seems most FSU fans would like Georgia Tech in the Atlantic Division with them for ease of travel and exposure in northern Georgia. Swofford seemed to indicate to Teel that if there was enough support among the conference presidents, they'd be willing to make changes. Now that the Big Ten has gone common sense with geographically based divisions, do you think the ACC should follow suit?
Martin: Yeah I do. The divisions are pretty arbitrary as is. Geography is a fine way to do it, I suppose. Selfishly, what I would like to see is the four North Carolina teams in the same division again, but I doubt that ends up happening. It's definitely something that should be looked at, and this is an instance where asking the old-guard ACC media to help out might not be a bad idea.
Mark: It's hard to come up with a division format where all four North Carolina schools are in one division, but they could certainly find a way to make them make a litle bit more sense. What percentage of people that really like college football do you think really know which schools are in the Atlantic and which schools are in the Coastal? 20 percent?
Martin: What percentage of people who cover the ACC regularly can name the divisions off correctly the first time? Pretty sure some people put BC in the Coastal and Virginia in the Atlantic on accident. And don't get me started on wherever Duke is.
(The answer is the Coastal, but you had to think about it.)
Mark: Last thing before we go, Martin. This week we learned Sun Life Stadium renovations were scuttled. While that primarily hurts the Miami Dolphins, it also hurts the Miami Hurricanes who play in the stadium as well. Al Golden made some comments about his disappointment in the decision. Miami just has never seemed the same since they moved out of the Orange Bowl, so thinking more philosophically, is Miami ever going to again be the monster they were in the past?
Martin: I don't know. I've thought about this a lot lately after watching the 30 for 30 on the U again. College football certainly needs Miami to be Miami or another team to take its place. But the area doesn't seem to support the Canes like it used to, the team is on life support, and there's no spark. A couple of surprise years would really help, but it's going to take lightning in a bottle along with some strong marketing. What do you think?
Mark: I think Miami will get better and in the end be a pretty consistent contender for the Coastal Division once it's out from under whatever punishment it gets for the Shapiro stuff, but I can't help but think the world has changed so much since 30 years ago. They'll never be able to build a dome over south Florida and keep all of the elite kids down there at home like they used to. Virtually every school in the nation relentlessly recruits all of Florida now. It just can't be the way it used to be. But Miami can get better than it has been in the past 10 years or so, and that will benefit not only the ACC (who rigged its divisions to try and get two Miami-FSU games per year) but, like you said, all of college football.