Bobby Bowden’s message to FSU? ‘Stay in the ACC’

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One very powerful Florida State official — and the board he chairs — has publicly stated that his school should listen to overtures from the Big 12 if they come.  One former trustee has publicly stated that those overtures have already come, and they came from the Big 12.

On two occasions since all ‘Nole broke loose over the weekend, FSU president Eric Barron has attempted to tap the breaks on the rampant speculation, and has even made a very strong case to boosters and alumni for the athletic programs to remain in the ACC.  While it may not matter as much now as it would’ve even a few years ago, Barron’s pro-ACC stance has one big supporter in the form of the man responsible for turning the Seminoles football program into a national powerhouse.

In an interview that will air Sunday morning at 9 a.m. ET on the SiriusXM show College Sports from All Angles with Jack Arute, Arute asks ex-FSU head coach Bobby Bowden what his message would be to his former school in regards to future conference affiliation.  His response?  In essence, get your football program in better shape and get back to ruling the ACC before even thinking about moving to a higher-quality football conference.

“My message would be stay in the ACC,” Bowden told Arute in a transcript provided by SiriusXM. “Do you want to win a National Championship at Florida State?  You’ve got a better chance in the ACC than you have in the Big 12, or even the SEC.

“You say, ‘Well, gosh, they’re much stronger in those conferences.’  Yeah!  They beat up on each other and you can’t hardly get there.  You know what?  Florida State, wait ‘til you get good enough to rule the ACC then you start looking for someplace to jump.  But my opinion?  They should stay right where they are.”

Those comments will likely not sit well with FSU supporters, some (most?) of whom blame the current state of the football program on Bowden and his decision to “cling” to the job until being forced out after the 2009 season.

Like Barron, Bowden cited increased travel costs in other, non-revenue sports as a reason for FSU to stay right where it is.  He also disputed claims made by Derrick Brooks, the former FSU All-American linebacker and former school trustee who stated during a radio interview Wednesday that “[a]s far as I know, the Big 12 reached out to us.”

“All this talk about Florida State, it kinda tickles me because, in the first place, I don’t think the Big 12 has even talked to Florida State,” Bowden said. “I could be wrong.  I hear different opinions.

“I think the president of Florida State is correct.  Florida State, you’re in the ACC, it’s a nice solid conference.  Stay with them.  You know, I can’t see Florida State joining the Big 12 to gain three million dollars.  How much is it going to cost to fly the girls’ soccer team, the girls’ basketball team, the boys’ baseball team out to Norman, Oklahoma, or out to Kansas to play?  They’ll gobble that three million up so quick they won’t know what it’s like.  I think we need to stay right where our base is, that’s right here on the east coast.”

It remains to be seen whether the people who are actually still in power at the school and will ultimately make the decision on conference affiliation, up to and including the board of trustees, concur with the line of thinking put out there for public consumption by Bowden and Barron.

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.