Seminoles Must Think Big Picture
By Matthew Osborne
Follow us at Twitter.com/SouthernPigskin. Become a fan at the SouthernPigskin.com Facebook Page
Although FSU stands to make slightly more money if they move to the Big 12, it would not justify the eight-figure exit fee that they would be forced to pay for leaving the ACC.
Though an official invitation from the Big 12 has yet to be extended to Florida State’s administrative staff, it appears that the Seminoles will be forced to make a decision on their long-term conference affiliation in the very near future.
A member of the Atlantic Coast Conference since the 1992 season, the Seminoles are the focus of major conference realignment rumors which, if true, could permanently change the landscape of college football.
While the ACC recently signed a lucrative television deal with ESPN which projects to bring in an additional three million dollars per year in revenue to each member institution, many members of Florida State’s Board of Trustees are compelled by the slight increase in television revenue that would stem from a potential move to the Big 12.
The question that members of the Florida State Board of Trustees are currently attempting to find an answer to is based off of simple economic principles: Is it worth paying an eight-figure exit fee to the ACC in order to receive slightly more television revenue and increased exposure in a new conference?
“I really didn’t think the Big 12 made a whole lot of sense for Florida State, because it would have been more money in their TV contract, but not exponentially more money, and just from the travel and things like that, Florida State doesn’t seem to fit the Big 12,” NoleDigest.com editor-in-chief John Crist said in a recent interview with Southern Pigskin.
Although Crist, along with a good majority of the Seminole fan base, believes that Florida State is not a natural fit in the Big 12, he does believe that outside circumstances could force Florida State’s hand to a new conference. In particular, the announcement of a new bowl agreement pitting the regular season champions of the SEC and the Big 12 against one another in a New Year’s Day bowl game beginning in 2014 could be a pivotal factor in determining where Florida State’s future lies.
“The landscape of college football is changing seemingly every season. It looks like we are going to sixteen-team super-conferences, probably just four of them, and since the Pac-12 and the Big Ten long have an arrangement with the Rose Bowl, now it looks like the SEC and Big 12 are trying to get together, right now the ACC is the fifth man at a four-person dance,” Crist commented. “Even if Florida State has to shell out an eight-figure exit fee, with the amount of money that is involved potentially in a bigger, better Big 12, maybe it wouldn’t take them quite as long to recoup that money as it would have previously when you thought about this.”
For the time being, a big factor to keep an eye on will be the divide that seemingly exists between the Board of Trustees and Florida State’s athletic director and president.
The Board of Trustees recently went on record stating that they would be in favor of looking into alternative conference options outside of the ACC. Contrarily, Florida State president Eric Barron and athletic director Randy Spetman have continued to publicly support the Seminoles’ current positioning in the conference.
With an apparent divide between the two forces, the question then becomes how much pull would the Board Trustees have in this decision?
“Almost all of it,” Crist emphatically responded when posed with that very question. “All you have to do is look back a couple of years ago and look at the Bobby Bowden situation. Time and time again, the athletic director supported Coach Bowden. The president of the university supported Coach Bowden. But, all of a sudden, the Board of Trustees came out there and they basically got rid of Coach Bowden. They changed the conversation right away, so when the Board of Trustees talks, you have to listen.”
Ultimately, Florida State’s decision will come down to whether they place greater emphasis on the balanced athletics and outstanding academic prestige offered by the ACC or the tremendous football revenue offered by the Big 12.
Any talks of Florida State’s decision being influenced by their longing to be a part of an FBS playoff structure are illegitimate, as the Seminoles would undoubtedly be included in any playoff format revolving around the idea of four sixteen-team super-conferences. While concerns over the long-term status of the ACC are very real, the teams which currently comprise the conference would all eventually find homes in one of the sixteen-team super-conferences.
With Florida State virtually being guaranteed inclusion in any future playoff format, the university’s decision should be based on what will be best for the athletic department as a whole.
While the football program appears to be on the brink of establishing itself as a perennial national contender on the gridiron, the rest of the Seminole’s athletic programs have thrived since the university’s move to the ACC. Florida State ranked seventh in the most recent Directors’ Cup standings, and was the highest-ranked program amongst ACC and Big 12 institutions.
Simply put, the overall state of Florida State athletics has never been better. The men’s basketball team just won their first ACC championship in school history, the baseball team has been ranked No. 1 in the country for a large portion of this season and the football team will be ranked as a preseason top 10 team when the polls are released.
Although the Seminoles stand to make slightly more money if they move to the Big 12, it would not justify the eight-figure exit fee that they would be forced to pay for leaving the ACC. Furthermore, leaving the ACC could jeopardize the tremendous success of the other athletic programs at the school.
Change is always intriguing and captivating, but, in this case, change would not result in the most favorable outcome for the Florida State athletic department.
While the football prestige of the Big 12 is enticing, Florida State belongs in the ACC.