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.”
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.