There seems to be a growing belief among Seminole Nation that it’s time to leave the ACC for another conference. Yesterday, it was announced that FSU had a $2.4 million shortfall on its 2012-2013 athletic budget. This is embarrassing and only further shows why FSU needs to leave the ACC.
The ACC is just not invested in football. This was obvious when they added Pitt and Syracuse. They turned down West Virginia’s application, much to alleged chagrin of FSU and Clemson. The ACC is run by the Tobacco Road schools, with a UNC alum as it’s commissioner. This is a league that caters to it’s blue-blood basketball schools, but not to the football schools who actually bring the most money for the conference. For example, the SEC does a perfect job of scheduling it’s marquee games. Last year they scheduled a bye week for both LSU and Alabama before they played each other. For FSU, the ACC scheduled the Clemson game directly after the game with Oklahoma. What did they do to Clemson? They scheduled them to play FSU after their game with Auburn, the defending champions. This year, they schedule FSU to play Clemson in the 4th week of the schedule? The only marquee games the ACC seems to care about are the bi-annual match ups between UNC and Duke in basketball.
Recent events suggesting a 4-team playoff would also be disastrous for FSU if it stayed in the ACC. The current proposal would have the four best teams in the country going to a final-four format to determine the national championship. What this will inevitably lead to is a final-four dominated by the SEC, Big Ten, and to a lesser extent, the Big 12/Pac-12. These conferences are the most politically powerful in college football and will influence who gets which spots. What’s to stop a 11-1 UGA team from getting to the final-four over a 11-1 FSU team due to the Noles belonging to a weaker conference? A playoff without automatic qualifiers for conference champions will lead to the ACC getting weaker, and the stronger conferences packing their teams to the final-four. Not having the ACC conference champion qualifying for a final-four spot means A LOT less revenue coming in to FSU and other ACC teams. In turn, the financial gap between SEC teams and FSU will only grow, leaving us in the dust.
Though many of us would like to jump to the SEC, there are several reasons why it probably will never happen. For one, there’s the much talked about “alliance” between UF, UGA, and South Carolina, where they would each vote against adding a university that resides in their home state. UF, as we all know, has throughout its history tried to stymie FSU’S growth. When FSU started its football team in the late 1940s, it was UF that fought to control FSU’s athletic program, calling it the “Tallahassee Branch of the University of Florida”. No joke, you can read more it here, (http://nolefan.org/summary/fsu_uf.html) . SEC teams are content to use the “they’re in the ACC” argument against us to recruits as it’s really the only advantage they really have over us. Despite this, FSU has been recruiting like gangbusters with Jimbo Fisher at the helm, so why would the SEC give up this advantage and let us in? The SEC has made it clear that they will only expand to increase their TV footprint. This means they will not go to the state of Florida to add another team.
The only conference that seems like a legitimate option for FSU is the Big 12. This would have been unthinkable at this point last year, but the Big 12 did a reasonably good job saving the conference. They added TCU and West Virginia, which is of course a more impressive coup than the ACC’s annexation of Pitt and Syracuse. I know some are concerned about travel expenses, and this is a valid argument. FSU has to travel to Boston College, Maryland, and will soon have to travel to Syracuse and Pitt. These are not exactly nearby areas. In theory, this would be the new Big 12:
West Division: Texas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Baylor, TCU, Texas Tech, (another team)
East: FSU, Clemson, West Virginia, Iowa State, Kansas State, Kansas, Louisville
In this hypothetical situation, FSU would travel to several places that are just as close if not closer than several places in the ACC. Remember, that a big problem for FSU is the fact that ACC fan bases just do not travel well, and leave empty seats for Doak Campbell Stadium. Is it not pretty much a guarantee that the fan bases of West Virginia, Louisville, and other Big 12 teams like Texas and Oklahoma, would bring way more people to Tallahassee than ACC teams? Would that lineup not surely bring more FSU fans to the stadium? I think so. Another argument against going to another conference would be the $20 million FSU would have to pay to leave the ACC. This would be a major stumbling block, but I think it could be done if the amount to leave were split between FSU and the Big 12 (out of future earnings). FSU would be making a lot more money from a re-negotiated Big 12 conference deal with ESPN (as would probably happen if FSU/Clemson and others were added), which would help in paying off the ACC. Today it was reported that the Big 12 hired Stanford AD Bob Bowlsby as their new commissioner, who is said to be an intelligent leader and a football guy through and through. While the Big 12 is bracing itself for this new college football landscape, the ACC’s insularity and lack of vision will be its downfall.