The 2013 season has officially ended, and life is good for ACC commissioner John Swofford. Florida State won a national title. Clemson won the Orange Bowl. Eleven ACC teams finished with a winning record, the most by any league since 1932. For the first time since 1997, the ACC had two teams ranked in the top eight of the final Associated Press poll. There was plenty to brag about. I spoke with Swofford on Friday morning, and we talked about a variety of topics, including future scheduling.
The following is the first of a two-part Q&A with Swofford:
Overall, how would you assess the performance of the ACC this postseason?
John Swofford: I think that perceptions are built so much on how your best teams do at the top. I’ve said that over the years, whether that’s accurate or inaccurate is the way it is in terms of perception. Obviously having a team win the national championship is as big as it gets in college football, and having a second team win a BCS game adds to it significantly. That’s really good to see. Having 11 teams in bowls, and then having 11 teams finish with winning records, hasn’t happened before, with any conference. There’s an awful lot to build on there going forward. It’s gotten us over the hump, so to speak, in terms of the postseason.
Had this been 2014, what do you think the ACC’s bowl picture would have looked like in the College Football Playoff?
JS: At the time that those selections would have been made, obviously Florida State would have been in that, and probably the No. 1 seed. Clemson would have been close, but outside the top four. Clemson would have been in the Orange Bowl.
What is your take on how well the ACC is positioned for next year, heading into the playoff?
JS: I think we’re well-positioned for the playoffs and our whole bowl lineup. The new postseason has benefited us tremendously, I think, because in addition to the playoff, our postseason bowls will be enhanced significantly. Now, if we have a team that goes up to the playoffs, we’re guaranteed another team in the Orange Bowl. Certainly that was not always the case in the current system. When the Orange Bowl is played, which will each year be New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day, it’s an improvement on the date and quality of opponent that we’ll be playing in the Orange Bowl, from a brand standpoint, is enhanced because it will always be an SEC or Big Ten team or Notre Dame. Anytime the Big Ten team is in the Orange Bowl, they will vacate the game in Orlando, and we’ll have a team in that game as well, in addition to the Russell Bowl, which we’re in every year. And then you look at the rest of our lineup, it’s just an excellent setup for our league going forward. Even if we have two teams in the playoffs, we’re still guaranteed a team in the Orange Bowl, and our opponents are very attractive as well, with Charlotte as an example, being against the SEC now. Russell will be against the Big 12. Nashville and the Gator Bowl against the SEC. Both in terms of location, dates, opponents, it’s a real plus for us in terms of the future postseason.
What’s the latest on Charlotte as the destination for the ACC championship game?
JS: We’ve been very pleased with Charlotte and the reception we’ve received there, and the support of the game. We’re in ongoing discussions with Charlotte about the future.
Was this year the last year of the agreement?
JS: It was, yes.
What did Pitt and Syracuse bring to the ACC this year from a football perspective?
JS: I think they brought teams that obviously have the potential to be very successful in our league and from a national perspective. It was good to see both of them win bowl games at the end of the year. I think we were strengthened by their presence as a league and from a football standpoint, and the potential they bring, along with the past history and tradition.
Check back in a bit for Swofford's thoughts on Louisville, its hire of Bobby Petrino, and more.