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July 28, 2004

The 33rd annual ACC Preseason Football Kick-off closed with the commissioner’s breakfast…and opportunity for the media to hear it straight from John Swofford, the architect of expansion and the man responsible for moving the ACC forward.

If you remember, at one time the league looked like it was ready to put the expansion deal together with Miami, Syracuse and Boston College. Lawsuits, politicians, and thousands of dollars in conference calls later, the ACC expanded to 11 teams joined by Virginia Tech and Miami and in 2005 the Eagles of Boston College will wing their way into ACC competition.

“Expansion is a two way street,” Swofford told the media at Grandover Resort in Greensboro. “I hated to hear the word ‘raid’ or that the ACC was ‘raiding’ a league. Institutions had to want to be a part of us as well. A majority of our schools had a vision for the future and I feel very good where we are. It was definitely a time to move forward.”

There are going to be growing pains for a while, but with the arrival of BC in 2005 the next order of business is to select an ACC football championship city…an announcement that could possibly come the night of the Virginia Tech-Southern California Kick Off Classic game August 28th.

“The interest was at an all time high,” Swofford reported. “We can not make a bad decision selecting our city for the December 2005 championship. We just want to make the best decision. We have a sub-committee of four athletic directors that will make a recommendation to the faculty representatives and the other AD’s. We want to find a home with a 2-year contract and a 2-year option. The ACC really wants the city that will host this game to wrap its arms around the game and the league. We really like what Atlanta did with the SEC (Championship Game).”

And Atlanta is a player along with Charlotte, North Carolina, Jacksonville, Orlando, and Tampa. With the SEC title game and the Peach Bowl already in Atlanta my feeling is the ACC divisional playoff will head south, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Orlando or Jacksonville receive the nod. The ACC is asking for a sellout, a fan fest, and for the game to be one of the biggest events in that city in 2005. As far as the other bowl tie-ins with the ACC? Swofford said there would be some changes in the future.

“We are very happy with our current bowl partners, but we have options. With expansion we can go a bit deeper. Our current bowl contracts run through 2005 but with 12 teams it will force us to make some alterations.”

So for now, all is happy with the ACC. The league has embraced the addition of the Hurricanes and the Hokies, the new television contract with ESPN, ABC, and Jefferson Pilot-Raycom will bring more money to the table than ever before, and when the ACC football championship city is announced the hype will last over 16 months. According to Swofford the interest is changing from expansion to competition and the student-athletes.

…And a division naming party.

In 2005 the ACC will launch football competition with 12 teams, six in one of two divisions. However, currently the divisions are being called “A and B”. The league executives are open for suggestions on what to call the two divisions…North/South, East/West, Atlantic/Gulf. Since barbecue is served almost every game day in the press boxes maybe we go with the Pulled and Chopped divisions.

Just write or e-mail the ACC office, or e-mail me and I will pass it along…it might earn you a trip to Disneyworld.

Editor’s note: Next week, we will break down some of the new football rules that will be in place for this fall.

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