by Seminole Savant
Is there an offseason in college football anymore? Not at Florida State the past few weeks. Just a refresher of what’s happened in less than 14 days:
• FSU administrators announced that there would be a $2.4 million budget deficit that would need to be covered by a reserve fund.
• The ACC signed an extension to its TV deal with ESPN, which was quickly ridiculed for not being as lucrative as those of the other major conferences (more on this PR mess later).
• Athletic director Randy Spetman pledged FSU’s commitment to the ACC – on Friday.
• The next day, the Board of Trustees chairman Andy Haggard says that FSU should pick up the phone and listen to the Big 12 if they call.
• A few hours later, coach Jimbo Fisher says that FSU needs to do what’s best for FSU.
• And at 11 p.m. on a Saturday, FSU president Eric Barron is forced to e-mail a statement to media pledging the school’s commitment to the ACC.
• But Barron is forced to defend the school’s commitment to FSU on Monday, this time in a strongly-worded defense of the ACC (and often-critical of the Big 12) in a letter to FSU’s faculty.
• On Wednesday, former FSU star and former BOT member Derrick Brooks says he thought that there had been contact between FSU and the Big 12 … contradicting everything that Barron, Spetman and Haggard have already said.
Dizzy? Think there’s been some miscommunication among the leaders at FSU?
FSU fans and alumni have been firing e-mails at the athletics department and Barron for weeks. The overwhelming majority seems to be in favor of a move to the Big 12.
There are two very important issues as it relates to FSU’s situation. In the near term, FSU surely will be a member of the ACC.
But in the long term, FSU needs more than what the ACC is able to provide financially. That may sound contradictory, but it’s the dilemma that is surely facing Barron and those who are advising him.
Issue 1 is that FSU faces a considerable buyout to leave the ACC – in the neighborhood of $20 million. FSU is already $2.4 million in the hole for the 2012-13 athletics season. And despite a $5 million gift from Al Dunlap, the Seminole Boosters are trying to close the gap on the other $10 million for an indoor practice facility.
Seminole Boosters doesn’t have the spare change to pay the ACC. Yes, the Big 12 could give FSU part of the buyout. But that would likely be in the neighborhood of $5 million.
This issue alone is why I strongly believe that FSU is set in the ACC for the near future, which would be at least 3-5 years.
But the long term could be very different.
Issue 2 is the TV deal, and here’s where things get really interesting. The ACC office sold the deal with its best PR spin, claiming that it would send $17 million to each school. That’s about $4 million more than member schools receive now.
Sounds great. But it ain’t.
Bits and pieces of the deal have been leaked to reporters with well-placed sources. Like many of these TV deals, the ACC’s extension is backloaded. So FSU and the other ACC schools will see paltry increases early in the deal.
And even when the ACC gets to the meat of the contract, nearly 10 years from now, this deal is far behind the likes of the other major conferences and light years behind the SEC.
The TV deal is so bad that there is only one way out for the ACC: improve as a football conference and, yes, expand. That’s the only way to re-negotiate a bad TV deal.
Last year, we had all of the FSU-to-the-SEC talk. This year, it’s the Big 12 chatter. Next year, there will be more expansion discussion. And FSU’s name may be brought up again in the conference shake-up.
But odds are FSU will be in the ACC, and will quietly have to argue for schools (Notre Dame? Rutgers?) that enhance the value of the conference’s TV deal.