A few weeks ago, I titled an episode of the Sluggo Podcast “The Demise of the ACC” and while that may have seemed over the top, a recent report by the consulting group Navigate, indicates there is indeed bad news ahead for Clemson football and the ACC as a whole.
The ACC is already in a hole, with payouts below every other Power 5 Conference, yes, even the PAC-12, and the hole continues to get deeper each year.
Estimates are that by 2029 there’ll be a $53.4 million dollar gap in the payout between ACC and SEC teams.
You can see this disparity today, in various ways. Look at the production quality of the ACC Network compared to the SEC version and you see stark differences in quality.
I’ve been vocal about my criticism of the ACC Network’s production, but this report lays out why it’s “second tier” (or perhaps, fifth tier is more accurate) when airing sports.
It’s no coincidence that SEC basketball has become prominent as more money has flowed into the coffers of those teams, allowing them to hire the likes of Bruce Pearl and Rick Barnes to coach SEC basketball.
For years, SEC baseball has been top notch with multiple teams reaching Omaha and winning the National Championship, some finding ways around the 11.7 scholarship limit.
In geographic footprint and eyeballs the ACC is battling the SEC, is losing and losing badly.
From my vantage point it looks like the ACC bet on basketball, expanding into far flung markets that aren’t football or college sports friendly, while the SEC added the likes of Texas A&M and more recently Texas and Oklahoma.
To add insult to injury, at least for the time being, the ACC has lost the basketball bet, too, as long dormant basketball teams in the SEC like Tennessee and Auburn spring to life in March Madness.
Football is still king, however, that’s what drives these revenues and what drives the disparity in dollars between the conferences.
I’m not smart enough to know what the future of college football looks like, but I know this, the ACC can’t continue on this trajectory for long and retain relevance.