FSU board ‘unanimously in favor of seeing what Big 12 might offer’

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Oh boy.  Here we go.  Again.

Rumor and speculation has bubbled just below the surface for weeks connecting Florida State — and Clemson to some degree as well — to a potential move to the Big 12.  Such smoke has been dismissed by most national observers as well as the school’s athletic department, with athletic director Randy Spetman issuing a statement just yesterday attempting to quash the speculation.

“We’re in the ACC. We’re committed to the ACC,” Spetman said in the statement. “That’s where our president and the board of trustees has committed to, so we’re great partners in the ACC.”

Yeah, about that whole “board of trustees being onboard with the ACC as a great partner” thing…

In an exclusive interview with WarChant.com, FSU Board of Trustees chairman Andy Haggard blasted the ACC and its recently-negotiated television deal, skewering the league for retaining its third-tier media rights for basketball while giving them away for football.  Perhaps most damaging to both the ACC and FSU’s credibility, though, is Haggard publicly hiking up his university’s skirt and openly courting some heavy petting from the Big 12.

“How do you not look into that option,” asked Haggard. “On behalf of the Board of Trustees I can say that unanimously we would be in favor of seeing what the Big 12 might have to offer. We have to do what is in Florida State’s best interest.”

[/tosses mic]

So, in one fell swoop, Haggard has not only undermined his current conference, but, perhaps more importantly, he’s undermined the very public words of the head of his own athletic department.

It should be noted that, the website writes, “Haggard confirmed that as far as he knows there has been no contact between FSU and the Big 12 regarding possible expansion.”  Based on Haggard’s very public rebuke of both the ACC and Spetman, he’d better hope that changes at some point in the future.

The new TV agreement reached between ESPN and the ACC would pay each conference member an average of $17 million annually over the life of a contract that will run through the 2026-2027 academic year.  Such an arrangement would put the ACC behind but near the payouts for the Big 12 ($20 million) and Pac-12 ($22 million) but well behind the Big Ten (gazillions) and SEC (gazillions once its deal is tweaked in the coming months).  As football is the driving force behind the mega-TV deals, and the product the ACC puts on the field Saturdays’ in the fall is undeniably inferior to the four aforementioned conferences, the compensation ACC members will receive falls very much in line when compared to the rest of the market.

Still, despite the obvious lack of football prowess contributing to a smaller bottom line, Haggard simply can’t wrap his head around his school’s current conference kowtowing to a state a little bit further north and a sport centered in the same region.

“It’s mind-boggling and shocking,” said Haggard. “How can the ACC give up third tier rights for football but keep them for basketball? …

“It continues the perception that the ACC favors the North Carolina schools.”

Add it all up, and what we have here is a complete and utter mess for both the ACC and FSU thanks to Haggard’s decision to come out with both lips blazing.  We’ll be anxiously awaiting responses from conference commissioner John Swofford and Spetman, if they come at all.

Until then, strap in.  It appears were might be on the verge of a third-straight offseason of expansion.

Yippie?!?

Suspended Mich. St. staffer receives one-MONTH contract extension

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A disturbing situation in East Lansing has added a head-scratching twist.

According to ESPN.com, and by way of a Freedom of Information request, Michigan State football staffer Curtis Blackwell was on the receiving end of a one-month contract extension earlier this month.  Blackwell, whose title with the football program is director of college advancement and performance, was set to see his contract expire at the end of this week.

What makes this development noteworthy is that Blackwell has been indefinitely suspended by the Spartans since early February.

Around that time, it was confirmed by the university that three still-unnamed MSU football players had been suspended after allegations of sexual assault were made against them last month.  An unnamed football staffer was suspended at the time as well; that staffer was subsequently identified as Blackwell.

A police investigation, as well as a Title IX probe, into the allegations continue.  Blackwell is not accused of participating in the alleged sexual assault, but rather a non-sexual crime that’s connected to the investigation.

Mark Dantonio hadn’t spoken publicly about the allegations until earlier this week, and the head coach probably would’ve been better served to have kept it that way.

A&M, UCLA both add New Mexico to future schedules

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Texas A&M and UCLA announced Wednesday that their 2017 opener had been moved from Saturday to Sunday.  As it turns out, that wasn’t the only scheduling news connecting the two football programs.

As part of a release announcing seven games being added to its future schedules, New Mexico confirmed that two of those contests will include A&M and UCLA.  Both of those games, obviously, will be on the road, with the Lobos traveling to College Station Sept. 18, 2021, and to Pasadena and the Rose Bowl Sept. 13, 2025.

In its release, the school wrote that “[t]he game in College Station has a guarantee of $1,100,000 and 450 complementary tickets,” while “[t]he game in Pasadena has a guarantee of $1,200,000 plus 2,000 complementary tickets that UNM can sell for extra revenue.”

The last and only time New Mexico and UCLA squared off was in the 2002 Las Vegas Bowl, a 27-13 win for the Bruins.  UNM and A&M actually completed a home-and-home series relatively recently, with the Aggies winning both games played in the 2008 (28-22) and 2009 (41-6) seasons.

In addition to the future Power Five games, a continuation of the long-running rivalry with UTEP will be extended.  UNM will play in El Paso in 2021, then host UTEP in 2022.  Those two games will mark the 79th and 80th contests in the regional rivalry.

Michigan State, Washington round out future schedules with Utah State

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Needing to fill a single spot in some future schedules, both Michigan State and Washington have come calling to the Mountain West for an opponent. Utah State was happy to oblige.

Michigan State will host Utah State on September 1, 2018. The Aggies will travel to Washington on September 19, 2020. For their travels, Utah State will collect $2.9 million between the two games, according to FBScheduels.com ($1.4 million from Michigan State, $1.5 million from Washington).

The Big Ten and Pac-12 each use nine-game conference schedules, leaving three spots open for non-conference games. The Big Ten requires all conference members schedule one game per season against another power conference opponent (the Pac-12 has no such requirement of its members at this time), although exceptions are made. Utah State, as a member of the Mountain West Conference, would not satisfy that requirement for the Big Ten, but the Spartans already have a road game against Arizona State (Pac-12) on the schedule in 2018. Michigan State and Arizona State will play again in 2019 in East Lansing. Michigan State also has future power conference matchups with Notre Dame (2017, 2026, 2027) and Miami (2020, 2021). Michigan State will also play BYU in 2020 in Provo.

Washington has future power conference matchups with Rutgers (2017), Auburn (2018, in Atlanta), and Michigan (2020, 2021). The Huskies will also face Mountain West Competition from Fresno State (2017), Hawaii (2019), and Nevada (2027).

Utah State will face power conference opponents on the road in 2017 (Wisconsin, Wake Forest), 2018 (Michigan State), 2019 (Wake Forest, LSU), 2020 (Washington), and 2021 (Washington State). Utah State will also host Washington State in 2020 as part of a home-and-home deal. Utah State also has an annual series against BYU running through 2020.

Old Dominion hopes to “hit the ground running” on new stadium project

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Some fans of the Old Dominion football program may be getting a little impatient with the progress (or lack of) in the development of the football stadium, but Old Dominion athletic director Wood Selig says things are coming along nicely and progress will start to be seen soon enough.

“Once we get the architects engaged, we’ll figure out what $55 million will buy in 2019 dollars,” Selig said, according to The Virginian-Pilot. “Then we’ll have an idea for how much additional money needs to be raised to support the project.”

Old Dominion is planning on tearing down Foreman Field at the end of the 2018 season and rebuild it with modern seating and amenities. The $55 million project remained on the books in the Virginia budget in February, allowing the university to move ahead with their plans. The first step is finding an architect to take on the job.

Because Old Dominion’s football stadium is among the smallest in the nation and will remain so even after the rebuild and renovations, the entire project is expected to move fairly swiftly once the work actually begins. Old Dominion isn’t building a grand football palace, so any concerns over the lack of updates on the stadium should be calmed.

If nothing else, the concerns raised about the lack of updates on the stadium renovations may just mean Old Dominion has some eager fans excited about the future of the program.