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Do Cal, Stanford and SMU come off as desperate or did they just make the best deal they could?

John Skipper and David Samson joined Pablo Torre to discuss the latest domino to fall in conference realignment and whether the three schools made the right choice in joining the ACC.

News broke on Friday that Stanford, Cal and SMU will join the ACC, albeit with significantly reduced revenue shares for several years.

John Skipper and David Samson joined Pablo Torre, of the soon-to-debut Pablo Torre Finds Out, to discuss the ongoing seismic shakeup of the collegiate football world.

Pablo notes that John played a significant role while at ESPN in the deal which has caused some consternation within the ACC with schools becoming disenfranchised with the returns they are seeing while other schools are seemingly desperate to get into the conference amidst other conference shakeups, specifically the Pac-12. These schools are so desperate to get in that they’re willing to accept less, or in SMU’s case NO, money for a specific amount of time just to get in.

John points out that SMU didn’t volunteer to take no payment and that Stanford and Cal didn’t volunteer to take less than other ACC schools. He points out that these schools are just trying to make the most out of a difficult situation. A four-team conference, as the Pac-12 currently sits, is not going to work nor get a great media deal. So, John says, they have chosen to attach themselves to one of the undisputed Power 5, or even 4, conferences while the ACC is getting the California market in its footprint.

Meanwhile, SMU is a prestigious school with a solid donor base and a history in football that just happens to be in Texas. So now, the ACC also adds Texas to its footprint. The ACC gets more money, and gives some to Stanford and Cal while SMU gets none of it for the time being because this is the school’s only shot to get in a big conference.

Pablo describes this as “panhandling of a certain kind” for once-proud programs and asks David if this all makes sense for the schools. David points out that it seems to him that this was contemplated in the original ACC TV deal, so Stanford knows what its benefits are and what the existing member schools stand to gain from adding another member and is willing to forego a portion of that in order to gain admittance to the conference.

“Is that enough to make you love me?” is what David interprets Stanford’s rationale to be. He said he’s fascinated by it because it requires Stanford to put on this desperate-smelling cologne it had no intention of ever doing until the Pac-12 fell apart.

John says they’re reacting, starting from the idea that the existing member schools of the ACC opposed any expansion that did not pay them more money. What the ACC has done, he said, is satisfy their more aggressive members noting this gives them a new pro-rata incremental payment but it doesn’t require it to give that to the new members. And those new members realized they had no alternative. Rather than calling it desperate, he instead sees it as Stanford and Cal making the best deal they can under the circumstances.

Pablo asks an interesting question: How many schools wish they could do what SMU is doing and how many would do it if they had SMU’s booster backing? He says a superleague is coming and every team is trying to get on the last chopper out. John says SMU just wants to be in the club because everybody believes there is going to be more separation between the teams in the Power 4 conferences and everybody else.

David disagrees, however, and says he doesn’t think every university is looking at this realignment and is willing to get to one of these bigger conferences at any cost. He says he worries that SMU is trying to play with the big boys and is giving up so much to do it that they’re going to end up being eaten on the Serengeti.

Meanwhile, The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz’s resident college football superfan Lucy Rohden took to X to offer up some of her thoughts on how these new ACC members are spinning the deal they made to join the cool kids club ...


Skipper & Samson: If You’re In The ACC, Please Stand Up

  • Meadowlark Media CEO John Skipper and Nothing Personal’s David Samson are back with another episode and we’ve got Pablo Torre as host! The ACC is expanding! Welcome Stanford and Cal of the failing Pac-12... and SMU? Then, what is happening with Nielsen Ratings? Why should we care? Why is everyone so mad at Amazon? Plus, we are the streaming pirates and we are here! The NFL, NBA, and UFC have sent a joint letter asking the government to shut it down! They allege they have lost as much as $28B in potential revenue from pirated content. Also, the death of the regional sports networks may be here. What are leagues doing? What are teams doing? And finally, 92,003 people showed up to watch the Nebraska women’s volleyball matches. A world record for a women’s sporting event.

Watch more below!


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