Every time the topic of conference realignment comes up, Syracuse Orange fans get rightfully nervous.
So when this news dropped on Monday, panic was setting in for some while others were digging out their Big East merch with dreams of MSG in March dancing through their heads.
Clemson, FSU, Miami, UNC, NC State, Virginia & Virginia Tech are “The Magnificent 7” ACC schools, sources told @ActionNetworkHQ. These schools, @RossDellenger reported, have met in past several months, w/lawyers examining grant-of-rights to determine just how unbreakable it is.…— Brett McMurphy (@Brett_McMurphy) May 15, 2023
Those dreams were dashed by the outcomes from reports after Tuesday’s ACC spring meeting where it seems a new revenue model will emerge. The good news is that television revenue won’t be touched, so it seems that the ACC will award more money from the CFP and NCAA Tournament pools to those schools who perform better in those sports.
The bad news is that this isn’t going to make up the $30-40 million gap between the ACC and Big 10/SEC. This new model isn’t likely to appease Florida State and Clemson, so it can’t be all that the ACC tries to do if it wants to keep the conference together.
Whit Babcock was open about his school’s involvement in the “Magnificent 7” discussions.
“I would classify it as a number of conversations,” Babcock told The Times-Dispatch, “usually in small groups, on interpretations of grant of rights, of bylaws of the league, of options that may be out there. But as you know, the grant of rights has been looked at a lot of times by a lot of people.”
Syracuse should be involved in conversations of their own and with other key partners. While the seven schools seem to be working in cooperation, it leaves the Orange to quickly develop a stronger bond with the other ACC schools and to explore possibilities. Yes football matters a lot, but Syracuse, Duke and Louisville basketball still mean something. Pitt has rebounded in the last year, and Boston College....well Boston is a nice road trip for fans. The next shuffling won’t resign the Orange to joining LeMoyne in the NEC, but Syracuse can’t sit back and wait for moves to happen before they make plans.
If the ACC isn’t breaking up now, it means that not only is the Grant of Rights reasonably strong, but it means that the other P5 leagues aren’t extending invitations to ACC schools at this time. We can’t pretend that Florida State and Clemson are deleting their ConferencePartner.com profile just yet, but the advantage the ACC does have is that it appears the preferred destinations aren’t opening their doors......for now.
I won’t pretend to ignore that the Big 12 could try to figure out a way to not only destroy the PAC 10 but to also cut the legs out from the ACC. Could they find a tv deal to lure away FSU, Clemson and others to close the gap to the Big 10 and SEC? Perhaps, but it doesn’t seem like the interest is there from Apple or Amazon right now and it doesn’t make a lot of sense for ESPN to pay more for what they have no, but stranger things have happened.
Just like the departure of a major NIL source, this uncertainty isn’t a fatal blow to Syracuse Athletics, but it underscores a need for a long-term plan. No matter what you think about the DOC Gross era, at least he continued the work of Jake Crouthamel and kept the Orange in the mix when the ACC called again. John Wildhack doesn’t need to panic, but he needs to keep Syracuse’s options open because it’s clear that the ACC isn’t going to last forever.