Looking ahead to the future

In the final portion of our three-part interview with Dan Radakovich, the Clemson athletic director talks about a number of different subjects.

From the state of the big three sports at Clemson, to the future of the ACC and college football, Radakovich weighs in with his thoughts.

What are your thoughts on the conference and its direction?
Radakovich: The ACC with the recent granting of rights by the presidents to the conference for the television revenues, I think, is a really strong place. I think it solidified the conference. The four new members -- Louisville, Notre Dame, Pitt and Syracuse -- are going to really contribute, athletically and from a notoriety perspective. And will give our television partner -- ESPN, along with the grant of rights -- a good platform to do the necessary due diligence of creating an ACC television network. If it moves forward, it creates the revenues that come from the Atlantic Coast Conference to its member schools, so I think that there are some really positive signs, as it relates to the future of the ACC.

John Swofford has done a really good job. We're one of the five equity conferences. We get a full share seat at the table of the College Football Playoff. In the coming weeks, we'll have an announcement, as it relates to our bowl lineup. The Pinstripe Bowl was announced, which will be a really good game to get the ACC noticed in the world's largest television media market -- New York. I think that was really necessary, because of the geographic changes associated with the conference. There are opportunities in the years to come to play the basketball tournament in New York, as well. Those are all things that are important for the growth of the ACC.

Is the possibility of the basketball tournament being played at Madison Square Garden something that you think would be a plus for the conference?
Radakovich: I think that would be a really good plus for the conference. I don't have enough information yet to say that it should be an every year thing or a rotational-type circumstance. But some presence within the New York market would be phenomenal within the Atlantic Coast Conference, especially as it relates to basketball.

The College Football Playoff. Do you see it or would you like to see it increase? Or are you of the opinion it should stay where it is?
Radakovich: I think it will stay where it is for the 12-year cycle. The discussion about increasing it between now and then is not a good use of time. It's four teams for the next 12 years. We'll run through this cycle. I think, if you look back, everything is evolutionary. You start with the bowl alliance, you start with the bowl coalition. It morphed into the BCS. Now, we're into the College Football Playoff. We had a great run from the BCS. I guess it would be 16 or 17 years of the BCS. It served its purpose. It did what it was supposed to do. It brought the two best teams together in the country for a championship game -- what were perceived to be those teams. Was it a little rocky along the way? Sure, but they managed to continue to tweak that formula and how things are working, as it relates to getting those two teams together.

The College Football Playoff will expand on that, double it to four. They'll have a selection group that will monitor and run through selecting those four teams. That'll be a challenge, but like all the rest of the things, I think that it's very doable. Bill Hancock, who leads the College Football Playoff, is outstanding. Michael Kelly, who is his chief officer, who I had the pleasure of working with at the ACC, Michael has done these kind of things at the NFL level, from a Super Bowl perspective, putting on these championship-type games. From the semi-finals, which will be Dec. 31, Jan. 1 or 2, depending upon how the weekends fall on the calendar, that semifinal weekend that has some of the other games around it. It will be a real celebration of college football. Then, it will move forward to the championship game that will be held a week later.

The selection committee, how do you think that should be formed? Who do you think should make it up?
Radakovich: I think it's going to be made up -- first of all, the College Football Playoff is going to select those individuals, but I think it's going to be a committee. I've never been on the basketball committee, but I've talked to a lot of colleagues who've talked about the time and commitment that's associated with that. I think the people who are selected for that committee are going to need to have incredible credentials as it relates to understanding college football, and are going to be able to spend an awful lot of time researching the teams, not just looking at the media stuff.

It's probably -- on any given year -- if you have the 12-year cycle that we're looking at, it'll probably be pretty clear 80 to 90 percent of the time who the top two teams are. Let's say 70 percent of the time, it'll be really clear who the top two teams are. Ninety percent of the time, it'll be really clear who the top three teams are. It's going to be that fourth team and the 10 percent that they'll really take a lot of work.

What are your thoughts on each of the big three programs we cover -- football, men's basketball and baseball?
Radakovich: I think Dabo [Swinney] and his staff has done an awful lot of great work…I'm really looking forward to watching them perform. I think Dabo and his staff has done a really good job of preparing them, creating a focus that's necessary for success. All that being said -- the ball isn't round. It doesn't bounce right back to you. In order to get to where you want to be, there has to be some good fortune involved. But, as far as preparation and the ability to want that goal and talk about it, not look at it like it's too far away [and] they can't get to Pasadena -- that doesn't happen. I think there's an expectation of excellence. Dabo talks a lot about best. Just give your best and do that at all points in time, good things will happen. I think you can run that to the other programs as well.

I think basketball has had -- if you looked at basketball a few years ago when Brad [Brownell] came in and really disassociated yourself from being a Clemson fan, you saw who the roster was and how the roster was made up, who stayed and who went, you knew that you would have a couple of years where you didn't have the leadership that was necessary to compete in a league like this. That's where we are right now. I think Brad and his staff has done a good job of bringing people in. But, I think, Clemson, at the same time, has to step up and give him the right kind of tools to be successful. That's why we're having the discussion now, as it relates to Littlejohn Coliseum.

Baseball, I think baseball has done really well. The only problem with baseball is its zip code, being right next to some of the things that Columbia has been able to accomplish with my old friend Ray Tanner. They did some phenomenal things, as it relates to having success within their baseball program. But, as you look at our baseball program, we're competing in the highest RPI league in the country, week in and week out. We have a very good baseball program. I think, next year, as you look at the people who got experience this season, I think we have a really good group of folks coming back. That being said, if you look at the roster at North Carolina State, they're in a pretty good spot, as well. They have a lot of people coming back. So, again, it will be a dogfight within the Atlantic Coast Conference for baseball. With Louisville coming in, in 2015, will add strength. Notre Dame, occasionally in baseball, has done very well. That level of competition will continue to move up.

But I feel really good about the leadership in all three of those programs.

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