** The Florida State Rivals site, Warchant.com, published an article in which FSU Board of Trustees Chairman Andy Haggard blasted the ACC for its new TV deal, saying the Seminoles should explore leaving for the Big 12 if it’s an option. What’s his beef? The ACC’s TV deal pays schools on average for the life of the contract about $3 million less per year than the new deal the Big 12 will soon have. And just wait until the SEC renegotiates. He doesn’t like that money gap, especially when it comes to rival Florida.
** Haggard was incorrect about one point: He said the ACC gave up third-tier TV rights to football but not basketball. The ACC office, according to crack Greensboro reporter David Morrison, says that’s not true. That ESPN owns all TV rights for all conference-controlled games for both sports.
** FSU coach Jimbo Fisher didn’t exactly shoot down the idea, although his quote in this Orlando Sentinel article seems more like coachspeak than a ringing endorsement for realignment. “There have been no official talks, but I think you always have to look out there to see what’s best for Florida State,” Fisher said. “If that [jumping to the Big 12] is what’s best for Florida State, then that’s what we need to do.”
** The latest kerfuffle at FSU is interesting, since athletic director Randy Spetman said Friday that the Seminoles were “committed to the ACC” with all their sports programs. Rumors began to run rampant yesterday, so Florida State president Eric Barron released a statement that the school “is not seeking an alternative to the ACC nor are we considering alternatives.” Case closed? Hardly. Who do you think is the AD and president’s boss? The Board of Trustees, of course.
** The Orlando Sentinel’s Coley Harvey wraps up the situation well here.
** As usual, Yahoo! Sports reporter Dan Wetzel has a fantastic take on the story. In it, he writes that the ACC’s TV deal is backloaded, with the schools receiving only a $1 million bump next year, with a $4 million per year increase later in the contract, as late as 2021.
** CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodd goes all in on expansion, foreseeing the consolidation of power into four conferences (I feel like we’ve heard this before). In it, he mentions Virginia Tech as a possible partner to join FSU in joining the Big 12. That seems far-fetched at the moment, considering how little clout the Hokies-to-the-SEC rumors had last year, but I would never rule anything out in this expansion hysteria. That said, if you thought the SEC, a league not too far from Tech’s natural geographic footprint and one that’s practically printing money, was a hard sell to the Virginia Tech brass, imagine selling the idea of playing in Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas. I still feel like there are too many political hurdles for the Hokies to switch conferences even if they wanted to, but money often speaks louder than anything else.
So what does all of this mean? Who knows, exactly. If FSU feels it’s being shorted on money, then yeah, it should look at all of its options, as should any school.
The irony is that the ACC’s TV contract is what it is in part because Florida State hasn’t been as good as it was when Bobby Bowden was reeling off 10-win seasons in the 90′s. Do you realize the Seminoles’ last conference title came in 2005? If it was still competing for national championships — or at the very least, a division championship – on a regular basis then the league would be fetching a far larger price on the open market. As it is, the league is just not as marketable as a football conference as the SEC, Pac-12, Big Ten and Big 12. The TV deals don’t lie.
Will this go anywhere? I can’t say exactly. I think that the FSU trustee who started all t his will get a rude awakening when he finds out Texas football calls the shots in the Big 12 just as much as he thinks Duke and North Carolina do in the ACC, one of his gripes. Remember, this was a league that was on its deathbed not too long ago because of Texas’ stubborn refusal to give up the Longhorn Network.
And who knows how long this faucet of TV money is going to continue pouring in with these TV deals? At some point it has to level off, doesn’t it? I’m curious to see if FSU joining the Big 12 and opening up a renegotiation of the TV contract will fetch a whole lot more than the $20 million the league’s members will be getting per year soon. You can’t just expand for the sake of expanding. You have to add value in the schools you’re getting. FSU, obviously, would do that, but would bringing a school like, say, Louisville along to balance the league fetch another big payday?
And does all of this posturing make the ACC redouble its efforts to get Notre Dame to join the league? That would be a school that would move the needle in TV contract talks.
However it plays out, it seems like there will be plenty to talk about at the league’s annual meetings this week. Thoughts?