The Charlotte Observer filed Freedom of Information requests to get a hold of emails in the UNC athletic department during realignment fever around the departure of Maryland.
It's a great read. There's nothing particularly groundbreaking, no record of contact between UNC or UVA and other conferences...in some ways it's just a confirmation of what we already know about what went down.
But there is one very incredible takeaway...while this board and others were discussing the very real concerns regarding the financial landscape of college football and the ACC's position of weakness, the actual decision makers and people "in the know" were woefully ignorant of the situation.
The mantra to just "trust the ACC" or "trust Swofford" or "trust FSU's leadership" was proven woefully lacking. People like Ben and Nole55 and Seminole and myself and many others have been basically trying to sound the alarm the last few years, because it looked like nobody in charge recognized what was going on. Especially since the PAC signed their deal, which immediately reflected a MAJOR problem and the fact the ACC had badly misplayed their TV contract. But it goes all the way back to the SEC ESPN deal, the emergence of the BTN, and maybe even the 2003 expansion, that it just didn't seem like the ACC "got it."
The writing has been on the wall for YEARS, and it's been in big broad strokes for some time. And some of us have been talking about them for a long time, and still having people say things like "Don't worry, ESPN is regretting overpaying the SEC."
I really think nobody wanted to believe that some nobodies on some message boards knew more about the realities (just from information in mainstream sources) than the folks in the actual positions of power, but it's now very, very clear that was the case.
Case in point:
Hours after Maryland announced its move, Sports Illustrated posted a story on its website that detailed how much more money Maryland would make in the Big Ten. The first paragraph read: "The University of Maryland stands to make nearly $100 million more in conference revenue by 2020 with its switch from the ACC to the Big Ten. …"
Martina Ballen, the Chief Financial Officer of the UNC athletic department, emailed the link to Cunningham and UNC’s associate athletic directors. She included a short note: "Wow! Big $$$ if this is accurate."
How could they not know the relative financial situation of the two conferences, while we were discussing it ad nauseum on this board and others?
Or this gem...
Other emails Cunningham received expressed shock that Maryland would leave, and they questioned whether the money in the Big Ten was that much greater than in the ACC. One came from Cappy Gagnon, a longtime Notre Dame athletic department employee who retired in 2011.
"I don’t get this one," Gagnon wrote to Cunningham, who started his college athletic administration career at Notre Dame. "Maryland is going to be nobody in the Big Ten, with zero natural rivals and long travel. Is the money from the Big Ten Network that much greater than the ACC TV money?"
Excuse me, but are you fucking kidding me?
I'm not trying to toot my own horn (if I could then I'd never leave the house!) but this is scary, and it totally vindicates that collectively we weren't crazy to have serious concerns that the ACC knew what the hell it was doing prior to about 24 months ago.
I am actually quite confident that FSU, by luck or planning, came out of the whole period in the best scenario that it had available. I'm ready to move forward for now. I'm actually pretty confident that they may actually "get it" in Greensboro, as well as Tallahassee and Chapel Hill and Durham.
But for anyone who was ready to put their full faith in the administration of the ACC or the schools on the matter of money in athletics, this is a chilling, chilling read.