Yesterday, at 7 p.m. ET, ESPN and the Atlantic Coast Conference made history with the launch of ACC Network (ACCN). The All ACC team of Jac Collinsworth, Dalen Cuff, Jordan Cornette and Kelsey Riggs welcomed viewers to the new, 24/7 home for all things ACC in Bristol, Conn., surrounded by mascots and fans, with a special introduction from ACC commissioner John Swofford. The two-hour, network-opening show gave viewers a preview of the upcoming content and seasons across all sports.
Around the league
The Huddle weekly football studio team of Collinsworth, Eric Mac Lain, EJ Manuel and Mark Richt, along with game analyst Tim Hasselback and play-by-play commentator Dave O’Brien, previewed the upcoming college football season, while Cornette, Cuff, Riggs and LaChina Robinson discussed college basketball. Fans also got a glimpse at ACCN’s daily morning show Parker and Durham, which premiered today at 7 a.m. ET. Jon Beason, Katie George, Roddy Jones and Eric Wood were on the ground at ACC campuses, providing insight from college football practices at Georgia Tech, Louisville and Miami.
Viewers also saw soccer highlights and an inside look at production studios at several ACC schools with games on ACCNX yesterday evening.
Studio guests in Bristol, Conn., included Virginia basketball legend Ralph Sampson, UNC soccer great Kristine Lilly and college basketball analyst and former Virginia Tech head coach Seth Greenberg. Additionally, interviews were conducted with legendary Duke player Christian Laettner, Clemson head football coach Dabo Swinney, Virginia head men’s basketball coach Tony Bennett, Notre Dame head women’s basketball coach Muffet McGraw and Georgia Tech head football coach Geoff Collins.
Quotes from ACC Network Launch:
ACC Commissioner John Swofford (Full interview available here)
On bringing ACCN to life: “[ACCN] is important to the conference because our programs deserve it, our institutions deserve it, our student-athletes deserve it, our fans deserve it, and anytime you can have a network with your label connected to ESPN on the air 24/7, it really positions you tremendously well for the future.”
On women’s and men’s sports programming: “[ACCN programming] will be well-balanced. And in our league, that’s easy to do because of the quality of our women’s programs and our men’s Olympic programs as well. You want quality on the air, especially on a network like this, and fortunately, we have that across the board.”
Christian Laettner: “When I think of ACC basketball, I think of it as the premier league, the premier conference in all of college basketball… the ACC is where I wanted to go. When I was in high school. I was able to take five official visits and I only took three – all to ACC schools. I obviously thought it was the best conference.”
Kristine Lilly on ACC soccer: “I still think ACC might be one of the strongest for soccer. . . It’s just been incredible to see the growth and it just shows you what the game has done through the years. Now, more and more women. . . there are more opportunities for girls to play in college and get scholarships and be able to compete. The ACC is probably the reason why.”
Ralph Sampson: “The ACC is the best basketball conference in the world.”
Charlie Ward on his favorite memory: “My junior year is something that stands out to me the most, because that was the beginning. I’m grateful for Coach Bowden and Coach Richt believing in me.”
Dabo Swinney on what’s changed since raising the trophy in January: “The makeup of the roster has completely flipped. We have a 120 on our team, and 80 are freshman and sophomores. A really young roster…. a lot of new faces, new people. This team has hunger and enthusiasm.”
Roy Williams on breaking Dean Smith’s win record: “I think what I’ll do is get the 6-7 wins, and then go to the golf course so I can stay right behind Coach Smith.”
Muffett McGraw on new All ACCess series: “I hope they get to see behind the scenes and how much work goes into it, how much these girls are sacrificing: getting up early, going to the weight room, what they’re doing during the day, study hall…their day is so structured. And then they get to come over here and have some fun, a little basketball.”
Geoff Collins on potential edge for Georgia Tech: “We are a culture built on effort. Every single day we stress that in every single thing that we do. We rotate a lot of guys offensively and defensively… and just challenge them to play as hard as they possible can play and know that there are fresh guys coming in to sub them.”
Mark Richt on the biggest challenge for Clemson: “It’s not listening to the noise, and I’m talking about the positive noise. Coaches get it, they understand it. Players are young and they live out in the open – they have to go to class, listen to how great they are, and are on social media… ‘Best Ever’ is a lot to live up to.”
Eric Mac Lain on Syracuse: “Tommy DeVito is going to have a great year. They’re going to be a tough test.”
E.J. Manuel on biggest challenger in the ACC: UVA really stands out to me. Their quarterback, Bryce Perkins, QB is someone who will be special. He can throw the ball, he can run, he’s a huddle commander… those guys follow and believe in Bryce.”
Seth Greenberg on North Carolina basketball: “Cole Anthony changes their dynamic. He plays at the speed [North Carolina] wants to play at.”
Tim Hasselbeck, ESPN analyst and football player at Boston College
On calling the upcoming Clemson/GT game: “I am pumped to be there at Clemson. I’ve never been there so you may have to get me to come down from trying to run on the kick off. I am really excited and obviously we are going to see some talented players.
On Miami/Manny Diaz: “Manny is trying to get that swagger back. He certainly has a history at that program. That is too good, and too storied, of a program to be struggling so that will be interesting.”
On ACC quarterbacks: “There has been really good quarterback play in the ACC and I don’t think going forward it’s going to be any different. Trevor [Lawrence] for sure. Then you have Alex Brown. You look at Tommy DeVito and Syracuse. Bryce Perkins for sure. Matt McCabe could be the guy replacing Ryan Finley at NC State so… We are going to see good quarterback play. I am obviously excited about that as well.”
Media contact: Amy Ufnowski [email protected] or 860-766-3017; @AmyUf