On Wednesday, the ACC announced an extension of their exclusive media rights deal with ESPN that will reportedly pay each of its 14 members in the range of just over $17 million annually.
Somehow *cough*offseasoncontent*cough* that instantly transformed into the spark that fueled the already ridiculous rumor that Clemson and Florida State were looking to leave the league for the Big 12 (more on that later).
On Friday, Florida State’s athletic director Randy Spetman dismissed the rumor.
“We’re in the ACC. We’re committed to the ACC,” Spetman told the Orlando Sentinel. “That’s where our president and the board of trustees has committed to, so we’re great partners in the ACC.”
The speculation that Clemson and/or FSU could leave the ACC had already been floating around for the past week or so. CFT emailed both athletic programs seeking response late last week. A representative from FSU replied “Commenting on rumors like this would only give life to this non-story.”
Clemson didn’t reply at all.
Still, that didn’t stop some media* and fans alike from keeping the rumor going when the ACC announced its deal earlier this week. Comparing the league’s reported payout with the impending Big 12 TV deal, the handing over of third-tier media rights to ESPN and FSU’s $2.4 million athletic department deficit for 2012-13 were all used as launching points to support the notion that the Seminoles would be packing their bags for the Big 12.
(*If you read any report that says fans have a say in realignment, stop reading. Also, the fact that this story is still coming from one source says something. And it’s not good.)
In response, Spetman told the Sentinel he’s “not out negotiating” with other conferences.
And why should he be? No matter the payout relative to other leagues, I can’t think of any instance where a conference adds two schools and renegotiates a TV deal that pays its members roughly 25 percent more annually and then loses a prominent member to a conference that has lost four programs in two years.
This is all assuming the Big 12 even wants to expand. Last I’ve gathered, that’s not even a settled matter.
Additionally, and as college football blogger Chadd Scott points out in an excellent column, the reasoning behind FSU’s recent financial woes is a program problem, not an ACC one.
The ACC’s TV deal is at least in the ball park of college football’s other rich conferences in terms of first and second-tier media rights; it’s the league’s decision to hand over the third tier that is more unorthodox. As ESPN sports business blogger Kristi Dosh explains, third-tier rights “are often sold on a per-school basis (not negotiated by the conference as a whole) and often go to regional networks (Comcast Sports Southeast, Raycom, or SportsNet New York, for example.)”
But leaving one league for another over third-tier rights, especially under the pretense that a school (FSU) could develop a medium with the likeness of, say, the Longhorn Network? Yeah, okay.