ACC rallies after Maryland defection; presidents pledge to support conference

Are we all committed to this league?

That's what an ACC school president asked the rest of the membership on a conference call that included ACC commissioner John Swofford some time last week, in the wake of Maryland's midnight ride to the Big Ten.

It was a blunt question that elicited a quick response. Every president said they planned to remain in the league and had no intentions of following Maryland out the door, according to a source with direct knowledge of the call. Schools could have other plans privately -- and certainly other conferences might be flirting with them -- but presidents stressed the importance of continuity on the call. 

"The message was, 'Are we solid?'" according to the source. "So as far as we know, everyone's been solid after that call."

Surely it's a delicate time for the ACC, which is concerned with other conferences poaching its schools. Officials from Virginia Tech, North Carolina and Virginia have all issued public statements pledging ACC commitments, which sounds good on paper but fuels speculation that backdoor deals are happening. 

So the ACC decided to protect its own, working to keep every member happy while fielding calls from Louisville and others about replacing Maryland. The league circled back with Notre Dame -- hey, just in case, want to drop the football independence and join full time?

In September, Notre Dame joined the ACC in all sports but football, and the school is scheduled to play five ACC football games per year. Both sides have an understanding that Notre Dame can join anytime it's ready, if it's ever ready. But the ACC approached the Irish during a delicate time, just in case.

Adding a new school quickly was a strategic move to diffuse membership concern and adapt to the shifting college football landscape. Snatch up Louisville now, before anyone else does.

The ACC is trying to be proactive in the process, though it doesn't feel the timing is right to launch an ACC Network because of the market conditions. It has been talked about, though.

Make no mistake, keeping Florida State happy in the coming months is huge. After speaking with several prominent FSU boosters in recent weeks, the ACC power is taking this approach: This better not be a sinking ship, or we'll be looking hard for a way out. If that's the case, FSU's Christmas list starts with SEC, with Big 12 close behind. But if the ACC keeps momentum, which seems to be the case based on the last two weeks, then FSU will stick around.

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