It feels like an everyday ‘will they, won’t they’ at this point, with reports flying in from across the country surrounding the ACC’s interest in the remaining Pac-12 schools, and it won’t stop until a move is made definitively one way or the other.
The ACC Presidents called off a scheduled meeting Tuesday morning, which was expected to touch upon inviting Cal and Stanford to the ACC, and it left a lot of uncertainty. But of course, it’s not over yet either.
Pro Football Hall of Fame voter and author Jason Cole reported late Tuesday night that he’s heard an agreement for Cal and Stanford to join the ACC could come Wednesday. He also pointed to previous times when it appeared the ACC was on the brink of expansion only for it fall apart at the last moment.
A couple of good sources indicated that an agreement for Cal and Stanford to join the ACC could come Wednesday. We've been on the doorstep of a lot of agreements lately, only to have them blow up, so it's hard to feel sure about anything. But there's hope out there.
— Jason Cole (@JasonCole62) August 23, 2023
It does appear that even if the ACC does eventually vote to accept Cal and Stanford, SMU would be a separate matter altogether. SMU’s once inclusion with the Pac-12 schools has fallen to the wayside.
Cal and Stanford, who have received national support from the likes of former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, would need to receive 12 ‘yes’ votes in order to be accepted into the ACC. The 14 member schools, plus Notre Dame, which votes as a full member, will need to flip one of the dissenting voters.
According to SI’s Pat Forde, it was Clemson, Florida State, North Carolina and North Carolina State that opposed adding Cal and Stanford — and SMU. Which, of course, means that Pitt is in favor of expansion.
The ACC’s complicated Grant-of-Rights agreement will make even expansion difficult, but the AP’s Ralph Russo reported last week that Stanford would be willing to join the ACC even if it meant greatly reduced or no media rights payouts for several years.
“Leaders from Stanford, California, Oregon State and Washington State spoke Thursday, and Stanford told its colleagues it had informed the ACC that it would be open to joining the conference at greatly reduced or even no media rights payout for several years, a person familiar with the discussions told The Associated Press,” Russo wrote.
It would be nearly impossible for any ACC member program to get out of the current Grant-of-Rights agreement, but it appears that expansion would be much more feasible — and more widely accepted than splitting apart. However, it remains to be seen how adding the likes of Cal, SMU or Stanford would move the needle.
With the SEC, Big Ten and Big 12 all growing over the last couple of years, inking new TV deals, the ACC isn’t in a position to strike a new deal. But the conference can do whatever it can to remain profitable.
Tuesday morning’s meeting, if a school like North Carolina State is willing to flip its vote, could usher in the age of a new-look ACC in 2024 and beyond.