NCAA Football

Florida State University to Big 12 Rumors Beginning to Gain Credence

We’ve been hearing the rumors and whispers for months…Florida State University is thinking of abandoning the ACC for a move to the Big 12.  Until recently, these rumors were quickly dismissed by most in the know, but now a statement from Florida State Board of Trustees chairman Andy Haggard has given these tales a little bit of credence.  “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” said Haggard. “We have to do what is in Florida State’s best interest.”

The ACC’s new deal with ABC/ESPN, which is expected to bring less revenue than the Big 12′s new pending deal, is at the forefront of this situation. Reports were that Haggard was unhappy that the ACC controlled third-tier TV rights for football, while the schools held them the rights for basketball. He felt this was further evidence of the conference favoring the basketball schools such as North Carolina and Duke. However, an ACC spokesman came forth and said Haggard had been misinformed, and that ESPN controlled the rights for both football and basketball.  After this information was presented, FSU President Dr. Eric Barron issued a statement:

“Florida State University regrets that misinformation about the provisions of the ACC contract has unnecessarily renewed the controversy and speculation about University’s athletic conference alignment. Florida State respects the views of the Chair of its Board of Trustees that, of course, any university would examine options that would impact university academics, athletics or finances. At the same time, Florida State is not seeking an alternative to the ACC nor are we considering alternatives. Our current commitments remain strong.”

The ACC is one of the few leagues that has been able to avoid being raided by other conferences, and in fact, has done some raiding of it’s own, bringing in Syracuse and Pittsburgh into the conference out of the floundering (and commissioner-less) Big East.

Although the Big 12 reportedly had not even considered inviting Florida State to the conference, perhaps this latest exchange will push those wheels into motion. FSU is by far the biggest name that is even possibly considering conference movement, although they haven’t won a conference title since 2005.  The Seminoles have a national following and brand, which is the same clout that Nebraska used to help their recent movement to the Big Ten, and Texas A&M used for their move to the SEC.  Florida is also a football-crazy state who’s professional sports franchises have a limited regional following. For most Floridians, the Florida Gators and the Florida State Seminoles are the heart of sports in the state. so this would assure a big market share for the Big 12.

This was also the first time that Seminole head coach Jimbo Fisher spoke on the subject of conference shifting, stating; “There have been no official talks, but I think you always have to look out there to see what’s best for Florida State. If that [jumping to the Big 12] is what’s best for Florida State, then that’s what we need to do.”  Once a head coach jumps in the conversation, people ears start to perk up.

There are no serious talks ongoing, and nobody has made any formal exit ovations, but FSU’s leaders will have to answer the questions soon to put these rumors to bed, or to actively explore the idea of joining another conference.  For now, it seems that the Seminoles remain totally committed to the ACC.