New-look ACC looking for more football success

Published on NewsOK Modified: August 28, 2013 at 3:49 pm •  Published: August 28, 2013
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RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The Atlantic Coast Conference has new teams, a renegotiated TV package and a media-rights deal that offers protection from future realignment.

And to go along with that new look, the league could use some new football success — though the biggest benefits might not come right away.

While Pittsburgh and Syracuse bring the league to 14 football members, neither is a recent football power. And No. 9 Louisville doesn't join the league until 2014, the same year Notre Dame begins playing five ACC teams a year while remaining football independent.

The additions of the schools have created what ACC Commissioner John Swofford has said is "the strongest collection of basketball programs that has ever been assembled in one conference." As for football, he said the league has "unlimited potential." However, that potential likely won't translate into on-field benefits this year.

It's up to some familiar faces — primarily Clemson and Florida State — to boost the ACC's national credibility in 2013 instead of those new arrivals.

The ACC starts the year with two teams in the top 11 of The Associated Press Top 25 and has five games with top-10 nonconference opponents in the first two weeks of the season. Those are the first chances for the league to gain some credibility and break from a past of missed chances in big games.

"You want to see the ACC succeed on the national stage," North Carolina left tackle James Hurst said. "Whenever the ACC is on national TV, you've got to show out and give us a good name. We've got to work together in that aspect.

"I guess you can say you don't really deserve the good reputation if you don't win the big games."

The league does have some momentum. Notre Dame joined in July in all league sports except football, which allowed the ACC to renegotiate a TV deal that will now pay an average of $20 million annually per football member.

The ACC also secured an agreement that gives the league control of TV money for any school that leaves before the broadcast deal ends after the 2026-27 season, a move that pumps the brakes on realignment.

While the changes have strengthened the ACC's footprint on the East Coast, it's unclear how much Pitt and Syracuse will bolster the on-field product.

Pitt has reached bowls in five straight seasons and Syracuse won a share of the Big East title last year. But Syracuse hasn't finished in the final AP poll since 2001. Pitt has done it only once since 2004.

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