Me & @aadelson wrote this spring how the ACC can close the gap w/SEC/B1G. There were essentially 2 real answers from ADs we spoke to: Texas/OU or Notre Dame.

Well, Texas/OU appear off the table.

So let’s talk ND...

(very long thread… 1/x)…
@aadelson First, let's clarify where things stand w/ND: When Notre Dame joined the ACC as a partial member (all sports but football + 5 guaranteed football games/year) it agreed to a.) the same grant of rights deal (through 2036) as everyone else (except for football) + a big promise (2/x)
@aadelson ND's deal with the ACC says that IF the Irish join any conference, it MUST be the ACC. I've confirmed this agreement runs concurrent to the grant of rights, so in place through 2036. Of course, there's a way out of everything in college sports, but it would VERY expensive. (3/x)
@aadelson Of course, the B1G and P12 would love to land ND, too, as a means of leveling the playing field with the new-look SEC but there is a massive financial hurdle. Could the B1G, with a massive new TV deal in the near future, overcome that? Maybe, but the ACC will not go gently. (4/x)
@aadelson Bigger caveat in ND/ACC agreement is the word "if.” There's a hot take now that ND needs a conference more than ever. I'm not so sure, for a few reasons, but start with this: They had a great 2020 in the ACC & Swarbrick says they came away MORE committed to independence. (5/x)
@aadelson Swarbrick: "We thoroughly enjoyed being an ACC member for a year, but it also gave our fans that comparison. So not only because of their interest but my own, our own assesses, independence remains a priority and important to us." (6/x)
Funny side note: I spoke to Swarbrick on July 15 to get his take on several issues, including the future of realignment. Swarbrick: "I can't imagine anybody using the word 'stability' in college football. What's it look like? None of us knows, but not stability.” (7/x)
How's the ACC feel about that? Jim Phillips last week, pre-Texas/OU: "They know the ACC’s interest. It’s been less than bashful. They know where we’re at. Who knows where the future’s going to go. I love the schools we have but you always have to be ready to add.” (8/x)
So here's the state of play: ACC needs Notre Dame more than ever. Notre Dame says it remains committed to independence. How do those sides come together? ACC needs leverage, and at this time, it probably has less -- not more -- than it did a week ago. (9/x)
What constitutes leverage? Playoff positioning for one, and that's interesting because the proposed 12-team format would require the Irish to play an opening round game no matter where they're ranked. Wouldn't be in a conference be beneficial for seeding? (10/x)
Swarbrick: "I'm less bothered by it than some are because I like the notion that, if we're playing one of the teams with a bye on Jan. 1, we've played the same number of games. I always found the argument [that we don't play a conf champ game] off the table... (11/x)
more Swarbrick: "I always found that argument very specious, but that's off the table now. If we're playing in that round, we've played the same number of games, even if we didn't play in a conference championship." Swarbrick insists most fans are OK w/this, too. (12/x)
Of course, in a 12-team playoff, a team in a conference has 7 possible paths to the postseason. A team without a conference has six. And now, this new-look SEC and the "every game is tough!" narrative that will come with it, is going to command a big % of those 6. (13/x)
Better case for ND joining a league, however, is money. Right now, ND is leaving money on the table every year it remains independent. In 2019-20, the ACC paid $32.3M/full membership & $10.8M to ND, while NBC gave Irish appx $15M for a total of about $26M - a $6.3M gap. (14/x)
But 2 years ago, Forbes estimated ND to be the 5th-most profitable college football program, so that $6.3M/year really doesn't matter much to the Irish. It's the cost of independence, and they think it's a fair price. But what happens if that gap changes? (15/x)
The B1G, for ex, sent $55M to its members (some tricky math on Rut/UMd but still...) & will have a MASSIVE new TV deal after 2023. If ND had to choose independence over, say, $65M/year in the B1G, the cost of independence would be $39M/year, and that's a diff calculus. (16/x)
But ND isn't free to join the B1G, so the question becomes, can the ACC find a way to increase the cost of independence for the Irish to a point where there's real pressure to make the jump. But that's the Catch-22. ACC can't up TV $ (deal thru 2036) w/o ND joining. (17/x)
There's another caveat here, too: Jack Swarbrick is VERY smart, and he's already thinking long term. Linear TV revenue drives everything now, but ND is making moves in the direct-to-consumer market that's driven, fittingly, by its independence, with Fighting Irish TV (18/x)
Fighting Irish TV is still in its infancy, but it's already off to a VERY strong start, and it could become a full-on subscription model as early as 2022, as @awfulannouncing reported here:… (19/x)
@awfulannouncing In addition to broadcasting the spring game this year, FITV has a great cache of old ND games -- available because ND owns its own historical footage! -- plus press confs, features, etc. But that's really just the start, as @MattBrownEP discussed a while back. (20/x)
@awfulannouncing @MattBrownEP Side note here: Subscribe to Matt's newsletter. It's awesome and is one of the reasons I started digging into learning more about Fighting Irish TV in the first place. You'll learn a ton, and it's content you will not find anywhere else. (20.1/x)
@awfulannouncing @MattBrownEP So imagine ND found FITV so successful that it felt it could easily get $100/year out of subscribers & with a massive national brand, it could sell that to, say, a quarter-million fans. That's an extra $25M/year in revenue and its content ND owns & controls. (21/x)
@awfulannouncing @MattBrownEP But even that is just the start. Again, Matt Brown explains a bit of where the real advantage to something like this product lies..."The value in either the user data, selling other products, and finding another way to talk to your most die-hard supporters." (22/x)
@awfulannouncing @MattBrownEP Matt's on to something. Again, Swarbrick: "It's part of a broader, more important phenomenon we're very focused on, which is the need to fundamentally change the relationship with the fans from a transactional one to a participatory one. That's the bigger picture... (23/x)
@awfulannouncing @MattBrownEP More Swarbrick: "We don't want to just sell you a ticket. We want to know who you are, what about ND is important to you, and to have all sorts of assets available to you based on what you're interested in that will help build that relationship." (24/x)
@awfulannouncing @MattBrownEP To be sure, Swarbrick also sees FITV as a way of future-proofing ND's viewership market, saying the platform puts the Irish "in a leadership position for what is, effectively, content on demand" but it's about looking at what a modern relationship w/fans is all about. (25/x)
@awfulannouncing @MattBrownEP Swarbrick brilliantly says he's "learned so much from Fortnite" as it pertains to revenue streams. "You're so invested and the commerce surrounds your interest in building your individual presence in the game." It's about fans creating "an identity" that ties them to ND. (26/x)
@awfulannouncing @MattBrownEP In the future, Swarbrick sees FITV as an entry point to fans creating user avatars, having NFT ticketing, tailored stadium/viewer experiences, credits for activity that opens doors to better perks, etc. And I'm really just scratching the surface of this stuff. (27/x)
@awfulannouncing @MattBrownEP Swarbrick: "It is not the traditional model of attending the game, being passionate about the outcome, then wait for next game. This has to be, in the emerging metaverse and media space, all about feeling a sense of ownership." (28/x)
@awfulannouncing @MattBrownEP A lot to digest, I know, but you can see ND thinking longterm, and that longterm vision rests, in many key ways, on independence and the ability to create its own "metaspace" with an OOT delivery system. The revenue potential for that over the next decade is immense. (29/x)
@awfulannouncing @MattBrownEP Now, planning for a hypothetical future sounds great, but who knows what 2031 looks like? 2021 is already shocking, so maybe all this longterm thinking gets overshadowed by immediate needs. Again, I talked with Swarbrick 2 weeks ago (i.e. in another reality entirely). (30/x)
@awfulannouncing @MattBrownEP But the point is that, even a big revenue difference in TV deals doesn't necessarily put ND at a real, longterm disadvantage. There's much more to the puzzle, and ND's biz model looking ahead is build around independence, so the sales pitch has to be special (31/x)
@awfulannouncing @MattBrownEP Maybe Phillips can pull it together: New TV deal for big $, add a scheduling partner (Navy?), allow ND control over more of its content on back end. Might be time to look at unequal $ sharing, too. Point is, ND may not hold all the cards, but it's got a strong hand. (32/32)
@awfulannouncing @MattBrownEP One last add to this… talked w/someone familiar with ND’s philosophy who says they care about 3 primary things:
-Access to playoff ✔️
-A home for Olympic sports ✔️
- TV partner ✔️

Part 1 is only thing that could remotely change but at this point, access is only getting easier.

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More from @ADavidHaleJoint

23 Jul
Feedback from a longtime administrator on what comes next for non-SEC folks:
1.) Shore up own membership. Don’t get poached.
2.) Reach out to anyone who might offer value to see if they’re open to a move.
3.) Investigate strategic alliances… i.e. Pac-12/ACC/B12 partnership.
Multiple ADs I’ve spoken to today speculated that a 32-team super conference could be the ultimate outcome here, as it would be the only way to help offset the SEC’s massive power advantage, though I think a more diffuse alliance between leagues is the more likely option.
Idea would be that the sum > individual parts and by creating something of a negotiating partnership, leagues could squeeze for more TV money and better TV windows for games, whereas individually, none could touch the SEC’s sway.
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23 Jul
As @kbohls reported (and I'm told is accurate) the Texas/OU to SEC move is looking likely and would happen sooner than later. So probably time to be thinking about what this means in the big picture for the sport of college football, too. (Thread... 1/x)
@kbohls As we've seen with everything from COVID to NIL, there is no centralized body that says "here's what's good for college football and we need to work together for the larger enterprise." It's every man (or conference/school) for himself, which is what gets us here. (2/x)
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From 2014-19 that = 86 teams (thru 8 gms), avg 14.3/year.

Now include 2-loss P5 & 1-loss G5 = 178 teams, a 107%⬆️ in “playoff hunt” teams.
Essentially by Week 10 each year, we’ve eliminated 115 or so teams from playoff conversation (many well before that), leaving only about 11% of teams playing “meaningful” games. New playoff would more than double that, which is a great thing for the regular season overall.
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🌈Hawaii U6
10th biggest swing in PoT margin from 2019-20. Just 59% of drives in 2H were close or ahead. No other team < 60% won 5. 3-1 in close/late games. Same +TO/-yardage w/winning record profile as BC.
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🛣️🏃‍♂️UTSA U8
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28 Dec 20
The Ohio State QB history is so perplexing. Since 1980, they’ve had 20 different QBs lead the team in passing & list includes some elite college guys, but the only one to start more than 5 games and finish with a winning record in the NFL is… Mike Tomczak, who went undrafted.
Meanwhile, of those 20 QBs, 13 were drafted, but just two in the first round — two of the all-time busts.

Art Schlicter & Dwayne Haskins.

Schlicter, 0-8 as an NFL starter.
Haskins, 3-9.
Cardale Jones won a national title. Troy Smith a Heisman. JT Barrett, Braxton Miller, Terrelle Pryor… all terrific college QBs. They combined for 18 NFL starts.
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19 Nov 20
Me and @aadelsonESPN spent 4 months talking to more than 4 dozen people for an autopsy on FSU's fall from dominance. I hope you'll read the story. But wanted to share a little more insight here, too. A quick 🧵……
@aadelsonESPN First, this story is unique to FSU because Tallahassee is a unique place & the Seminoles are a unique brand. But many of the lessons of FSU's downturn are evident in what's happening at Texas, Michigan, Nebraska and elsewhere. Making a CFB program work at an elite level is HARD.
@aadelsonESPN The key to success is two-fold: You have to have the right people win the right roles, and all those people have to be pulling in the same direction. That sounds simple but it's not. Think of the motivations for each power player in FSU's story...
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