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Florida State Committed to ACC, Big 12 Officials Deny Rumors


UPDATED 1:16 p.m. PDT: Florida State’s Board of Trustees are reportedly “unanimously” behind Big 12 discussions.

Anonymous sourced speculation that Florida State and Clemson were close to an agreement with the Big 12 Conference kicked off seven days of chatter. The week hasn’t been free from big news: both FSU/CU’s current conference, the ACC and their rumored destination of the Big 12 announced renegotiated television deals.

Otherwise though, nothing has changed. And those in the know insist it will stay that way.

FSU athletic director Randy Spetman told The Orlando Sentinel on Friday:

"We’re in the ACC. We’re committed to the ACC…That’s where our president and the board of trustees has committed to, so we’re great partners in the ACC."

Ambiguous in language, reminiscent of former Texas A&M AD Bill Byrne’s publicly stated commitment to the Big 12 in 2010:

"We really like our relationship with Texas…We have a long relationship with them. From A&M’s perspective, we want to stay together…We’re committed to [the Big 12]."

A year later, A&M was on its way out to the SEC and on Thanksgiving, the nation was bidding one of the sport’s great rivalries an emotional farewell.

However, Spetman’s OS interview did include a plain-as-day denial that he was involved in negotiations with any league. A key Big 12 player echoes such sentiment. The Dallas Morning News’ chuck Carlton tweeted a quote from Texas AD DeLoss Dodds that

The attractiveness of the Big 12 is apparent, which is why such rumors are entertained at all. FSU is working to reestablish itself as a true national power on the gridiron. Jimbo Fisher has inked top level recruiting classes, and many pundits seem to be in agreement the 2012 Seminole roster can compete for the BCS championship.

Big 12 partners boast stronger football programs virtually across the board. The ACC has not sent a team to the BCS Championship game since FSU lost in 2000 to Oklahoma — a Big 12 member. Incoming Big 12 partner West Virginia blasted 2011 ACC champion Clemson in the Orange Bowl. The ACC finished with three teams in the final top 25 and while the Big 12 had just one more, both WVU and fellow newcomer TCU were in the top 15.

Further, the Big 12’s new TV deal is worth roughly $4 million per university, with a possible jump of $3-$4 million more per member with expansion.

So what’s the hang-up?

Well, FSU’s 2011-’12 athletic balance sheet showed a loss of over $2 million. Thriftiness in the short term is a virtue for the university, and spending upwards of $20 million to leave the ACC is a major expenditure. The Big 12 helped WVU pay the Big East its exit fees, and would presumably do the same for any other presumptive addition. Even so, that’s a hefty price to pay for an athletic department

Is it a short term investment worth making for long-term gain? That’s the ultimate question.

All assumption is that the Big 12 is destined for expansion, with no similar talk regarding the ACC. But 14 is an unwieldy number. The addition of two more members is logical, and could again open negotiations. Remember, the ACC signed a new deal in 2010 that ESPN reopened with Syracuse and Pitt’s arrival.

Third tier rights are the biggest negative to the new ACC deal. West Virginia is making out well shopping its third tier rights, and Texas received $15 million from ESPN for the Longhorn Network.

Now, LHN has run into a series of logistical headaches discussed at length on this blog — headaches that are forcing as many as three Texas football broadcasts onto the scarcely available network this autumn. A hypothetical Seminole Network is a concept with disaster written all over. But going the West Virginia route offers FSU some lucrative possibilities.

The ACC has the most attractive broadcast package for men’s basketball, a sport in which FSU is beginning to flourish. The Seminoles won their first conference tournament this past March, and have become a regular in the NCAA tournament. Its exposure on and money from ESPN makes Notre Dame a possibility in non-football sports. Louisville remains a player as well. UL AD Tom Jurich expressed his university’s desire for a new home. The ACC offers UL upgrades in both its most lucrative sport (football) and its most successful (basketball).

The arrival of either program would change the ACC deal once more.