The world of college athletics was thrown for a loop when a Florida State trustee told Warchant, a website dedicated to covering the university's athletic programs, that the school should look to move to Big 12 after unsatisfactory results from television negotiations with ESPN.
Florida State Board of Trustees Chairman Andy Haggard was upset at the ACC's recently announced 15-year, $3.6 billion deal with ESPN. The deal breaks down to approximately $17 million per school per year, though Yahoo's Dan Wetzel did raise questions about those numbers, but Haggard has his eyes on the $20 million-plus deal in the Big 12.
How do you not look into that option, Haggard told Warchant. 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.
The comments were seemingly echoed by Florida State football coach Jimbo Fisher, who told a group of alumni that if jumping to the Big 12 was best for Florida then that's what we need to do.
The comments made by Haggard and Fisher sent the speculation of Florida State to the Big 12 into overdrive, though the school's president has done his best to calm the masses.
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School president Dr. Eric Barron came out on Sunday night stating that the school was committed to the ACC and reiterated that position in a memo released Monday. Barron acknowledged that there are benefits to joining the Big 12, including a potentially higher television money payout, but that there are more reasons to stay rather than to leave.
Among the reasons listed by Barron: unequal distribution of money in Big 12; loss of rivalry with Miami; paying $20 to $25 million to leave the ACC; and faculty adamantly opposing joining a league that is academically weaker.
Barron has shown strong support in staying in the ACC, but his comments raise questions to who at the school is even running things. As president of the school Barron wields a good amount of power, but would likely lose out if the school's board of trustees decided that the Big 12 was the better option for Florida State.
Whether it comes to that could depend on a lot of things, but most importantly is just how badly the major players at Florida State want out of the ACC.
The Big 12 currently happily sits at 10 schools, but would likely jump at the chance to add Florida State. Despite the school's recent football struggles, Florida State is still a nationally relevant name and would allow the conference to tap into the lucrative Florida market.The Big 12 might even be willing to loan the school some money to pay off its exit fee to leave the ACC.
Is that good enough for Florida State to leave decades of tradition in the ACC and its rivals to the South Midwest centric Big 12?
That's the big question, though Seminoles fans are clearly eager to make the jump. An unofficial poll at Warchant had fans favoring the Big 12 over the ACC by a 95 percent to 5 percent margin.
Barron stressed in his memo that the school can't afford to have conference affiliation be governed by emotion, but it could be hard for him to maintain that position if the school's big boosters share the enthusiasm that Warchant readers have.