ACC thinking 'across the pond,' might play games in Europe

PASADENA, Calif. -- The ACC is feeling its new-found solidarity. So much so, that an idea has been raised about playing ACC football and basketball games in Europe, commissioner John Swofford told CBSSports.com.

“We need to think big,” Swofford said. “One of the things we brought up to our schools last week was we may play football, we may play basketball in Europe. Across the pond, so to speak.”

While there are no definite plans or specifics yet, the league can afford to think big. The ACC's landmark grant of rights that at least slowed conference realignment for the moment turned a week old on Friday.

Tobacco Road in Europe? Incoming member (in everyting but football) Notre Dame killed it in Dublin last year. Think Boston College making a similar trip. The Duke or North Carolina brands would be attractive in Europe. Just wondering, but how would Miami swagger -- once the Canes get past the current messiness -- play across the Atlantic?

An excited Swofford laid out the possibilities.

“The NFL is going to London, as is the NBA with some regularity,” the commissioner said. “The Olympics are so successful over there. Basketball is an international sport. Football is not, but there is a growing interest in it in Great Britain.

“When you look at this collection of schools and markets, all our institutions are international in one degree or another.”

The ACC is feeling its strength with Swofford and his peers having wrapped up the annual (and last) BCS meetings here. The commissioner said a settlement in the current Maryland lawsuit “hasn't even been discussed.”

“Our position is the same as it was initially,” Swofford said.

That would be not backing off one inch on trying to recover the $50 million exit fee from Maryland.

As far as a possible network partnership with ESPN, the ACC's research shows that by 2030, a combined 55 percent of the U.S. population will be in the South and Northeast. That happens to where the majority of ACC schools will reside by 2014, when Pittsburgh, Syracuse and Notre Dame are fully integrated.

Put it this way: The ACC might not form a network, but the discussion was pretty much moot unless Swofford got his schools to agree to the grant of rights.

“When you put the marketplace analysis together with institutions, it's probably the strongest group of basketball programs ever put together in our conference,” Swofford said. “We've got an enormous amount of potential from a football standpoint and business standpoint.”

 
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