Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Everybody's on the same page at Florida State

So ... Florida State. I promised a post and will now write one since I'd really like to get all this realignment-related stuff out of my browser.

I'm gonna start from the beginning for purposes of chronological coherency: The ACC recently signed a new TV deal that nets everybody in the conference about $17 million bucks a year, an increase of about $4 million a year from the deal that was signed right before Pitt and Syracuse defected from the Big East. That's not bad but is still a little less than the $20 million a year the teams in the Big 12 will be getting and somewhat significantly less than the $25-ish million the teams in the Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC will be pulling in; it also doesn't leave much room for future growth because of the nonsensical decision to give up third-tier rights -- the stuff that would typically be available to a conference-run network like the BTN -- for football but not basketball.

It's apparently that latter aspect that caused Bobby Lowder wannabe Andy Haggard to lose his crap the other day and start openly campaigning for the ACC to die a terrible death:
In an interview with, Florida State Board of Trustees Chairman Andy Haggard said the latest media deal with ESPN demonstrated the ACC's favoritism for its basketball powers in North Carolina.

If you've been scoffing at the idea that the 'Noles would ever move to the Big 12, allow Haggard to disabuse you of that notion: "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."

To be clear, Andy Haggard may or may not actually speak on behalf of the Board of Trustees; he's definitely speaking on behalf of himself but hasn't gotten any public support or dissent from anybody else with a meaningful opinion other than school president Eric Barron, who basically said "lol no."

Here's some of Barron's statement from Monday that essentially explained to all the kindergartners why leaving the ACC would be stupid:
"I want to assure you that any decision made about FSU athletics will be reasoned and thoughtful and based on athletics, finances and academics. Allow me to provide you with some of the issues we are facing:
 1. The information presented about the ACC contract that initiated the blogosphere discussion was not correct. The ACC is an equal share conference and this applies to football and to basketball. (T)here is no preferential treatment of any university with the exception of 3rd tier rights for women's basketball and Olympic sports. FSU is advantaged by that aspect of the contract over the majority of other ACC schools.
2. Colorado, Missouri, Nebraska and Texas A&M left the Big 12, at least in part because the Big 12 is not an equal share conference. Texas has considerably more resource avenues and gains a larger share (and I say this as a former dean of the University of Texas at Austin - I watched the Big 12 disintegration with interest). So, when fans realize that Texas would get more dollars than FSU, always having a competitive advantage, it would be interesting to see the fan reaction.
I'm pretty sure this was directed at Haggard as much as it was directed at fans; regardless, it served its purpose by actually providing some useful contract/financial info that was not included in Haggard's bitchfest with Warchant.

Probably the most interesting aspect:
... (since) we realize that our sports teams can no longer travel by bus to most games, ­ the estimate is that the travel by plane required by FSU to be in the Big 12 appears to exceed the $2.9M difference in the contract, ­actually giving us fewer dollars than we have now to be competitive with the Big 12 teams, who obviously do not have to travel as far.
Your ideas are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter. My curiosity about exactly how much a school's expenses are affected by traveling a bajillion miles has now been piqued; it's apparently at least* $3 million.

Anyway, I don't understand the grass-is-greener fantasy of playing in the Big 12. Almost all the points I was gonna make here were basically made for me in that letter, specifically in regards to the travel costs and how those would make the relatively minor bump in TV revenue pretty pointless. There'd also be the matter of an ACC exit fee in the range of $25 million, which by itself would eat up almost a decade's worth of the alleged revenue differential, and the general discomfort of being an extreme geographic outlier in a conference orbiting around Texas (both the state and the university). No comprendo.

It should be noted that I chose the word "fantasy" for a reason:
Haggard confirmed that as far as he knows there has been no contact between FSU and the Big 12 regarding possible expansion. However, he makes it very clear that he and the Board of Trustees would be more than open to exploring the possibility.
 In picture form:


I don't doubt that the Big 12 would be interested in expanding for a Florida State-and-whoever package -- CBS Sports has a source saying "The Big 12 is literally on the fence as far as expansion," which sounds wildly uncomfortable -- but that seems like a discussion worth having (a) behind closed doors and (b) before publicly professing an undying love. There are better ways to explore options than yelling, "I'M SO MAD LET'S DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT ARGH!"

I'm not sure how the power structure works (other than "not very well") at Florida State but have a hard time believing Haggard's gonna generate any sort of consensus for an athletic-department-altering move that would probably represent a net financial loss over the next 10 years and would occur only because the ACC is allegedly sittin' in a tree with Duke basketball. And that hypothetical consensus would only matter if the Big 12 is legitimately interested, which it might not be, especially if it has to pick up some of that exit-fee tab. The issues: There are plenty.

I'm filing this under "pretty freakin' unlikely" seeing as how the president, the expenses, the academics, the regional connections and everything else line up on one side of the argument and Haggard apparently stands alone on the other with a pouty face that seems doubtful to be heavy enough to manipulate the scale (unless he has a lot more power than anybody realizes with the other old guys on that board). Sorry, dude.

*An estimated cost of over $3 million each year to send a bunch of teams from Tallahassee to Texas/Oklahoma/Kansas would have to put Boise State's hypothetical Big East travel costs somewhere closer to $5 million. That's basically the entire projected difference in TV revenue between the Mountain West's current deal (about $1.5 million per team) and the Big East's new one (expected to be about $6.5 million per team); take that for what it's worth.


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