From the sidelines
By Marty Gordon
Thanks College Football Committee, for you have set the stage for the dismantling of the ACC as we know it.
Florida State is standing on the edge and ready to jump to another conference, and they are using being left out of this year’s Final Football Four as a reason to look elsewhere.
I have always been told “things are not always greener on the other side of the hill.” A prime example is the departure of the University of Maryland. Yes, they gained lots of money to leave the ACC, but it has not spelled better athletics.
If FSU leaves, they will have to pay up and the exit fee is probably more than they would want to pay.
In 2016 when the ESPN deal was announced, ACC officials said the conference’s grant of rights makes it financially untenable for a school to leave, guaranteeing in the 20 years of the deal that a school’s media rights, including revenue, for all home games would remain with the ACC regardless of the school’s affiliation.
The underlying fact is that the ACC is locked into the current agreement through 2036. But FSU says woah that roll. There is major discrepancies of the television contracts in comparison of the ACC and the Big Ten and SEC
The ACC schools are making $27 million compared to as much as $57 million for the SEC.
Earlier this month, one solution which was floated is the creation of an unequal revenue distribution with some schools like FSU and Clemson receiving more depending on their success on the field.
This seemed to appease the schools in the short term, but FSU used the furor of being left out of the College Football Playoff picture to reignite the controversy all over again.
The bigger question in this whole scenario is who might play “follow the leader”. It is obvious that Clemson would also be considering a similar move. But this discussion is not new, and others like North Carolina, Virginia and Virginia Tech have talked about it.
Virginia Tech does not fit the Big Ten or Big 12 level of athletics, and the SEC does not seem to fancy the Hokies joined a crowded room.
Could the ACC exist without one, two or the four others leaving? Yes, it could continue to be a conference, but not a player in the college athletic landscape. FSU and Clemson have been big dogs not only for football but other sports over the past 10 years. Without them, the ACC would fall back to the high grass.
There is no real solution in any of the ACC schools joining another conference. Most of the others including the SEC have maxed out creating a mess for scheduling of all athletics. The Big Ten is an option but will it create better competition for everyone involved?
The ACC’s only option, which will keep everyone still in-house, is to convince ESPN to restructure the television contract. While it might not be comparable to that from the SEC or the Big Ten, it could keep everyone under the same umbrella.
Let’s get smart and finally think about the best for college athletics.