News With Commentary by TSL Staff

Thursday, May 13, 2004
by Will Stewart,

ACC TV Deal Vindicates Swofford, League

The ACC's fat new football TV deal, coming almost one year after ACC expansion, meets or exceeds expectations and gives evidence that the messy, acrimonious expansion process the league went through paid off in the end.

Yesterday, the league announced the signing of a new 7-year, $258 million TV deal with ESPN and ABC that will give the conference unprecedented exposure and will boost the annual income from its current level of about $21-$23 million (depending upon your source) to an average of $37.6 million per year.

The agreement runs for seven seasons, from 2004 through 2010, and includes money -- about $6 million a year -- for the ACC championship game that will start after the 2005 season. The particulars of the deal are as follows:

  • The deal is for 7 seasons (2004-2010), pays $258 million dollars and replaces/extends the deal signed in 1998, which was to run through the 2004 season.
  • The number of ESPN games increases from nine per year to 18.
  • The number of ABC games increases from 13 to 16.
  • The number of ESPN Thursday night games increases from three to six, the most of any conference.
  • The league will be featured in an annual Labor Day game (it's FSU vs. Miami in 2004 and 2005).
  • Other non-Saturday telecasts will be featured during Thanksgiving weekend.

At $37.6 million per year, the ACC's new deal trails only the SEC, which makes $41 million per year.

In addition, the ACC is currently renegotiating its Jefferson-Pilot/Raycom deal, which is expected to increase from $1 million per year to $4 million per year. With 12 teams in the future league, instead of just nine, J-P/Raycom now has more games to pick from and even has the option of showing two games at once, split across regions.

The new contract justifies the pitch that ACC commissioner John Swofford made to expansion candidates and his own league last year. Swofford had to convince reticent ACC members last summer that expanding would not reduce the per-team take of TV money. It was a risky argument, but Swofford proved to be correct in the long run, and he proved to be visionary with where the league was headed on its TV deal. ESPN and ABC executives praised Swofford's commitment and understanding of what the networks wanted.

During expansion, estimates for a renegotiated TV contract for the new 12-team ACC ranged anywhere from the same $23 million a year the league was already receiving to the outlandish figure of $50 million. In the end, the $37.6 million figure landed almost squarely in the middle of that, and the increased exposure adds value beyond the mere dollars in the contract.

Meanwhile, the new Big East faces a severe reduction in TV money and exposure. Published reports estimate that the Big East's TV contract, which is also undergoing renegotiations, will drop from $15 million per year to about half of that, or $7.5 million per year. If that comes to pass, the TV money gap between the two conferences (previously $23 million versus $15 million) will become a chasm ($37.6 million versus $7.5 million). The difference is staggering and no doubt sends a chill down the spine of every Hokie fan who knows how close Virginia Tech came to being left behind.

Not only is the BE's money being cut, but with the ACC taking up more Thursday and Saturday slots on both ESPN and ABC, there's a good chance the Big East will get pushed to Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday nights, a la Conference USA, for exposure.

The consolation for the Big East is that they got to keep their BCS slot, worth $12-$14 million per year. (Ironically, that makes one BCS game worth almost double the value of the Big East's entire TV contract.)

For the ACC, it's onward and upward in terms of prosperity and prestige.

Marshall Added to Future Schedules Page

TSL's Future Football Schedules Page has been updated with the information that the Hokies will play a 3-game series against Marshall in 2009, 2011, and 2013. This series is in addition to the 2005 game in Blacksburg, which is the second game in a two-for-none deal that the Hokies signed previously with the Herd.

VT will host Marshall in 2009 (Sep. 12) and 2013 (Sep. 21) and will visit Huntington in 2011 (Sep. 24). The games and dates are included on the future schedules page, which can be accessed (for future reference) from TSL's football page.

As you can see from looking at the future schedules page, the Hokies still have a combined three open home dates from 2006-2008, with no available road dates. This doesn't bode well for the attractiveness of the non-conference home schedules in those years, which already include games against Kent State (2006), Ohio and William and Mary (2007), and Kent State again (2008).

Virginia Tech Future Football Schedules
2005 2006 2007 2008 (12) 2009
GT ACC (4) ACC (4) ACC (4) ACC (4)
Wake Kent State Ohio U. Kent St. Wisconsin
UNC TBD Wm. & Mary TBD Marshall
Miami   TBD  
Ohio U.    
Away UVa ACC (4) ACC (4) ACC (4) ACC (4)
Duke Ohio U. LSU Wisconsin TBD

It's unlikely that the 2006 home slot will be filled with an attractive home-and-home series against a BCS-conference opponent, unless the Hokies can schedule it as a two-game series played in 2006 and 2009.

What's more likely is that the 2006 slot will be filled by a FAMU or Kent State type opponent, one of the 2008 slots will be filled by a similar opponent, and a home-and-home might be scheduled against an attractive opponent for 2008 and 2009.

However the next few years shake out, it is increasingly difficult in this age of six or seven home games per year to schedule compelling home and home series against name schools. As the schedule currently exists, the Hokies have 12 open home dates from 2005 through 2014, and just three open road dates. That 4:1 ratio lends itself to a lot of 2-for-1, 2-for-none, or 1-for-none deals, and those games are almost always against the Kent State, Ohio U. and 1-AA type teams (JMU and William and Mary). Marshall is the rare exception of a competitive team that is willing to schedule 2-for-1 deals.

Vick, Imoh, Hill Trial Set for Friday

All systems are go for the trial of Marcus Vick, Mike Imoh, and Brenden Hill on Friday, May 14th. Montgomery County Commonwealth Attorney Joey Showalter had asked for a continuance, but was denied Tuesday. Showalter asked for the delay on the grounds that the prosecution hadn't obtained access to phone records or conferred with one of the three alleged victims, according to the Lynchburg News and Advance.

"We've seen them (the phone records), but we needed to get them into evidence," Showalter told the News and Advance on Tuesday, after the request had been denied by Judge Robert Viar.

The trial, which is open to the media but not cameras, will be the first step in settling the football fates of Vick, Imoh, and Hill. Once the outcome of the trial is determined, Tech Athletic Director Jim Weaver can move forward with setting punishment, if any, for the players. Once Weaver does so, then the Virginia Tech coaches can move forward with planning for the coming football season.


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