The ACC Adding Stanford, Cal and SMU Makes Absolutely No Sense

Notre Dame v Virginia Tech
Notre Dame v Virginia Tech / Scott Taetsch/GettyImages

The ACC fired yet another round in the conference realignment shootout on Friday, finally finishing its long-rumored addition of three new schools. Stanford, Cal and SMU will all join the conference in 2024, with each school agreeing to ridiculously low payouts in order to do so. The move works for absolutely no one, yet for some reason the decision-makers at the ACC pushed for weeks to make it happen. It's the absolute peak of conference realignment stupidity.

Now the group of schools known as the Atlantic Coast Conference will have three universities located nowhere near the Atlantic Coast. In fact, two of them will be within spitting distance of the Pacific Coast, while the other is in Dallas, which is neither Atlantic, nor coastal. In order to make the deal palatable to the member institutions on the fence, the three incoming schools agreed to take miniscule percentages of the media rights revenue during their first 10 years in the conference.

Stanford and Cal will only take 30 percent of a full-member share for the first seven years. They'll then get 70 percent in Year 8, 75 percent in Year 9 and 100 percent in years 10 through 12.

Meanwhile SMU will forgo all TV revenue for the first nine years it is in the conference. Yes, you read that right, nine years!

I have to love the optimism of setting these plans out for a decade, as if the ACC -- or any other conference -- will exist in its current form five years from now.

The total TV payout to ACC schools averaged about $39 million last year. And to clarify, Stanford and Cal will only take 30 percent of "Tier 1" media distribution, which comes out to about $24 million per school. In the end, both universities will likely bring in around $20 million. That's about $17 million less than they made in the Pac-12 ($37 million), but is better than what they would make as a Group of 5 school.

That last part is key. The ACC, Stanford, Cal and SMU are all basically using each other. The fear of falling out of the major conference realm and dropping into the Group of 5, is stronger than any appeal to reason or prudent planning. Stanford and Cal are taking considerably less money and have handed themselves a brutal road travel schedule in football and basketball. SMU is giving up all TV revenue but gets to be part of a big conference. Those trade-offs don't really seem worth it.

The sad part? SMU's only real value to the ACC is it's location as a hub of sorts in the middle of the country. It will basically operate as the conference's commuter terminal.

Stanford and Cal were left out in the cold when USC, UCLA, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, Arizona State, Utah and Colorado all found long-term homes in other conferences. There was no honor among the Pacific thieves as they bolted to grab as much cash as they did. The West Coast, which has a four top 12 media markets -- LA, the Bay Area, Phoenix, Seattle -- now has its schools sprinkled around competing leagues. Here's a wild idea, now stay with me, maybe those West Coast schools could band together and create their own conference to take advantage of those big markets. There's some logic to it. Call it the Pacific Conference or something. Eh, we can work on the name.

So this is where we are. An East Coast conference lured two West Coast schools by promising roughly half the money they were previously making, while getting a school in Texas, essentially for free. It's also worth noting, none of the three schools are any good at revenue-generating sports. They'll be bottom feeders in the ACC and provide very little value as far as ratings go.

This whole thing is an absolute mess. The conference realignment carousel has been ridiculous from the start. On Friday, it finally spun out of control.

Logic no longer exists in college athletics.