My perspective, trying to be objective and not fall victim to 20/20 hindsight, is this is about as good as we could expect.
I remember at the time when the last round of negotiations were taking place everyone thought Swofford was a genius. Despite a weak economy, lackluster results on the court and field by most of the ACC, he was able to increase the payout substantially. Not SEC levels, but a healthy increase. The problem then was ESPN was the only serious bidder.
The next year when the PAC 12 set a new mark ESPN was trying to fend off Fox sports and maybe NBC/comcast ditto the Big 12(but really 10). Nothing can drive up the price in an auction like having earnest ,good faith bidders who covet the item, in this case TV rights. Fox and NBC are trying to get back in the sports arena and this helped the other 2 conferences tremendously.
Now back to the ACC and 2012. We already were locked into an exclusive contract with ESPN, while there was some wiggle room it isn't the same as allowing an open bid process. Therefore the ACC just didn't have the same leverage to make ESPN match the current going rate. That is my understanding of the current events.
The other 20/20 hindsight slam is how could the ACC give up their 3rd tier rights and not launch their own network. Well we just watched the SEC do the same thing, if any league other than the Big 10 could do it it would be the SEC, just too much trouble and start-up cost to have the ability to show women's field Hockey or such. I think it is a naive notion you just launch your own network and it is instanly profitable with by definition 3rd best "stuff" to air.
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