By David Teel
5:04 PM EST, November 17, 2012
Last month ACC commissioner John Swofford graciously sat for a 90-minute interview at the conference’s Greensboro, N.C., offices (nice digs!). Much of our conversation is chronicled in a profile appearing online and in Sunday’s Daily Press, but space limitations dictated some omissions.
Here are the most significant.
On potential complications of merging Notre Dame football’s NBC contract with the ACC’s ESPN deal if the Fighting Irish ever committed to full conference membership: “Notre Dame’s a lot (like) where we are in terms of television dollars generated. There’s not this big gap between their NBC contract and what our schools receive. At one time, that was a big gap. It isn’t in today’s world. … I don’t think it would be terribly hard to mesh the two.”
On the possibility of an ACC channel: “It may well make sense at some point. That’s part of what I mean about how well-positioned this conference is for the future: when you look at the number of eyeballs that our now in our footprint once we’re able to evolve as 15-member conference. We’re ramping up our discussions (with ESPN) on that. …
“In essence we have our own network through our (Raycom syndication) partnership. … Sometimes the optics of saying you have a channel are better than the reality of what it really means. … You do it for the right reasons, to bring more and better exposure for your programs in a way that makes sense financially.
“Sometimes people neglect to look at the cost of doing something. The ACC/Raycom digital deal. It required absolutely no investment on the part of the ACC, and yet we’re 50-50 partner in the revenues as they begin to generate. That’s a pretty good business deal.”
On the awe factor of becoming Dean Smith’s boss as North Carolina’s athletic director at age 31: “He could have been very difficult for any AD, particularly one that’s 31 years old. And he never was. … He had the sharpest mind of anyone I had ever been around, and he was also an unbelievable competitor.
“Some people didn’t really see that because the vast majority of the time he was such a gentleman. If Dean ever had a problem or was upset about something, which wasn’t very often, it was always behind closed doors. He was never going out trying to get something or going around anybody’s back. He always respected the chain of command so to speak. Both his parents had been school teachers.
“He was 31 when he was named the head basketball coach at North Carolina, so he had an appreciation for what that was like. … I was there 17 years as the AD and glad I never had to hire a basketball coach, because I felt like I had the best one in the country.
“And his values were good. You never had to worry about whether he was cheating. That just wasn’t who he was. And he loved his players. They were his first priority. I think he actually became closer to his players after they were finished playing. He put a really high priority on that. His values, his commitment to academics, how we saw the world was very similar.”
On North Carolina’s ongoing academic fraud scandal: “I would hate to see any of our schools have those issues, and I think anybody would hate to see their alma mater have those issues. So, it’s bothersome on two fronts. It’s a strong university, and it will get through it. Probably be better for it, which in my opinion is the only productive way you can look at those kinds of problems.”
On his mentors, former ACC commissioner Gene Corrigan and former North Carolina athletic director Homer Rice: “I’m not sure they would understand how much they meant to me personally as well. How they carry themselves, how they handle themselves. You can learn a lot from people, not only from what they tell you, but from observation and how they act.”
(Swofford, by the way, received the 2005 Homer Rice Award from the Division I-A Athletic Directors’ Association, and the plaque hangs prominently in his office.)
On where he rated musically among the four Swofford brothers – Bill and Jim sang, while Carl played the trumpet: “I got left out of that. When one of your brothers asks you to quit singing in the shower, you know things are not good.”
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