ACC Conference Call
by Jim Alderson, 6/17/03
Another week, another round of expansion talk. With the calendar dictating that the end game of the ACC’s proposed wrecking of five Big East programs is approaching, ACC Commissioner John Swofford continues to solicit, coax, entice, plead, cajole, wheedle, sweet-talk, beg, supplicate, inveigle, beseech, implore and charm his membership into approving the 12-team conference expansion that has now become the defining battle of his tenure. It appears that as recently as this weekend, he ain’t having a lot of luck.
Some media reports still have ACC expansion as a done deal, particularly those emanating from Tallahassee. Others, however, coming from the southern part of Florida, indicate that Miami President Donna Shalala has become ‘nervous’ about expansion, apparently sent into such a tizzy that she is unable to provide a deposition to the Connecticut Attorney General. It has also been reported that a ‘desperate’ Shalala has taken to calling various ACC officials, no doubt placing calls to Swofford and whining, “You promised” and ACC presidents to plead her case for inclusion.
UVa's President Casteen has probably grown very weary of constantly picking up the phone and hearing high-pitched shrieks emanating from Coral Gables on the other end. Meanwhile, Swofford not only has to continue to look high and low for his seventh vote but also hold what were assumed to be the solid ‘Yes’ votes from NC State and Wake Forest on board amid gossip that State Chancellor Marye Anne Fox and Wake President Thomas Hearn are wavering big time. The lot of a conference raider is a hard one.
Two conference calls of ACC presidents last week failed to produce the desired results, at least for the conspiratorial element of college athletics. Swofford, the Flounder of conference commissioners, has to get this done, and quick; his job security probably depends on it, and if he does not desire to find himself directing athletics at some tiny middle school deep in the Smoky Mountains, he had better ram this down the throat of one of Duke, North Carolina or the Hoos.
One does wonder exactly what goes on during those conference calls, and how the ACC presidents deal with each other. It is probably nothing at all like the fictitious call described below, but who knows?
Swofford: Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to welcome you to today’s conference call of the ACC President’s Council. Let me begin by calling the roll. President Baker of Clemson
Baker: Ah’m here, y’all.
Swofford: President Keohane of Duke.
Florida State President T. K. Wetherell of Florida State
Wetherell: Hit me.
Swofford: A simple ‘Here’ will suffice. President Clough of Georgia Tech.
Swofford: President Mote of Maryland.
Swofford: Chancellor Moeser of North Carolina.
Swofford: Chancellor Fox of NC State.
Swofford: Hoo President Casteen.
Swofford: Wake Forest President Hearn.
Swofford: Excellent. Ladies and gentlemen, I propose that we continue discussions concerning conference expansion.
Wetherell: We’ve had enough talk. It’s time for some action. I feel a lucky number seven in my bones. I propose that we vote to add Miami, Boston College and Syracuse to the ACC.
Swofford: Very well. We will have to vote on each applicant individually.
Wetherell: To heck with that. All or nothing, I say. Let it ride.
Swofford: Very well. We will begin voting. Clemson.
Baker: Yes, y’all.
Keohane: Coach K says to vote ‘No.’
Wetherell: Do you ask Coach K when you want to expand your hospital?
Swofford: Florida State.
Swofford: I’ll take that as a ‘Yes.’ Georgia Tech.
Swofford: North Carolina.
Swofford: NC State.
Fox: Gee, I can’t make up my mind. Uh, uh, yes, no, no, uh, yes.
Swofford: Is that your final answer?
Fox: I think so.
Wetherell: From the blue waters of the Chesapeake Bay to…
Swofford: Please, President Wetherell, you had your vote. Allow President Casteen to cast his.
Mote: Touchdown, Tech!
Barker: [Groan]. Not this, again, y’all.
Wetherell: Just what is it with you and Tech, Casteen? Bobby says it ain’t so hard to cover the spread against Beamer.
Casteen: Try beating him with algroh as your coach. I’m sorry, ladies and gentlemen, but we have a very difficult situation in Virginia.
Wetherell: Oh, you have a ‘situation,’ do you? Hoo cares? What’s more important, here, state government or the ACC raking in a pile of big bucks?
Moeser: I’m not really sure the money is there. Plus, it’s going to be difficult for basketball.
Fox: Can I change my vote?
Wetherell: No! Basketball again? Look, Moeser, will you and Keohane get it through your thick skulls that nobody cares about basketball. Football rules!
Swofford: President Wetherell, arguing to Duke and North Carolina that basketball is unimportant might not be the wisest strategy.
Wetherell: Put a sock in it, Swofford. This is all your fault. Leave it to me, you said. You told me you had a conspiracy worked out to rip off the Big East and nobody would know what happened until we had screwed them. Now look what’s happened. You ain’t exactly Roy Kramer.
Swofford: I’ll ask you not to use the word ‘conspiracy’ again, President Wetherell.
Hearn: Doesn’t anybody care how Wake Forest plans to vote?
Wetherell: No, all we’re interested in hearing from you is that you’re going to I-AA and leaving the ACC so we can invite Virginia Tech to take your place and get this over with.
Casteen: Folks, that reminds me; If we really want expansion, let’s go to fourteen and invite Virginia Tech.
Clough: I’ll second.
Fox: Are you sure I can’t change my vote?
Wetherell: Just like a woman, can’t make up her mind. Shut up, Clough. Casteen, you moron. We can’t go to fourteen. That splits the money two more ways. What’s the point in stealing their money if we’re gonna turn right around and give it back to them? It woulda worked, too, if we had a real commissioner instead of your worthless butt.
Swofford: Hey, I resent that. This is tougher than it looks. We wouldn’t need this if everybody wasn’t so worried about your football program going down the tubes and trying to get Miami as new designated football power.
Wetherell: We’re gonna be fine. Now that Rick Neuheisal is available to take over when Bobby retires, three to one says we’ll keep going just like before.
Casteen: That’s the problem, isn’t it? I’m sorry, but I simply cannot vote for any expansion that hurts Virginia Tech.
Wetherell: Expand this. All right, Casteen, I’ve had enough of this @$&*. You and your %@**$% Virginia Tech and your ^#*@+%^ state government. Let’s you and me settle this man to man, winner take all. I’ll meet you anywhere, even your precious Lawn. I’ll drop you like a bad poker hand. You man enough to tangle with me, Hoo Boy? And another thing…What? Excuse me. What is it Bobby? I’m kinda busy here. Please don’t tell me another one of your players has been busted. Mike Slive is on line two? That’s what I’m talking about! Put him right through. Sorry guys, gotta go. Bigger name on the other line. I’m outta here. See ya. [Click]
Statement by ACC Commissioner John SwoffordThe Presidents Council of the Atlantic Coast Conference again discussed conference expansion. The presidents continued to address various concerns put forth by members. I remain confident that we will be able to deal with all matters and move forward on expansion on our timetable.
Jim Alderson,who first made his mark with his biting political commentary on the A-Line email newsletter, also brings a unique, sarcastic, and well-informed perspective on college sports, particularly (1) Virginia Tech sports and (2) ACC sports. While Hokie fans currently have very little use for subject number 2, Alderson is an entertaining and informative columnist on subject number 1. For even more fun, visit Jim's A-Line home page.