David Moulton: Why the Big 12 makes so much sense, and how FSU can make it happen

David Moulton

David Moulton

Of course Florida State President Eric Barron is not going to be in favor of the Seminoles leaving a superior academic conference (ACC) for an inferior one (Big 12). He is a college president!

So he sent out a memo framing the argument over the weekend. The memo was leaked Monday. Barron listed four reasons to consider leaving the ACC and seven reasons to stay.

Let’s look at some of them:

No. 1: “There is a $20-25 million exit fee for leaving the ACC. We have no idea where that money would come from.”

Answer: ESPN. Officially it will be “the Big 12” but essentially ESPN’s increased TV rights to the Big 12 to bring FSU into the fold will account for the fee, if not upfront then within the first year.

No. 2: Schedule. “The most likely scenario has FSU in a division with Kansas State, Kansas, Iowa State and West Virginia. This would not cure our attendance problem.”

Very valid but the crossover appeal of Oklahoma, Texas, Oklahoma State and TCU is more attractive than what the ACC offers (outside of Miami, which we’ll talk about later) so it is about even.

No. 3: Power. “If the ACC is North Carolina-centered then the Big 12 is at least as Texas-centered.”

True, although the Big 12 has agreed to share primary TV revenues evenly, which was a major stumbling block in the past and helped cause Nebraska, Texas A&M and Missouri to leave.

No. 4: Travel. “Other sports teams will have to make longer road trips and that could eat away any of the financial benefits of the TV deal with the Big 12.”

Also valid. Estimates are $2 million to $3 million more per year in travel, which would account for most of the current difference in TV deals. However, the Big 12 deal would be renegotiated higher and FSU would be able to keep all revenue earned from its own network. Many TV execs think FSU could get $20 million annually from such a network.

No. 5: Academics. “The faculty are adamantly opposed to joining a league that is academically weaker.”

As they should be. But unless Florida State is going to devote less resources to sports (and raise your hand if you think that’s going to happen!), then the Noles have a revenue problem. The extra money from joining the Big 12 would not only pump eight-figures annually into the sports coffers but could easily be arranged so that $5 million or so of that money every year is added to the general student fund. That should soften the blow a bit.

No. 6: Finally, “a move could cost us the football rivalry game with Miami, a game that we sell out.”

Why? It is in both schools’ best interests to keep playing for just that reason. It sells out. It helps with recruiting. Yes, in Florida State’s case that would mean the Noles football schedule would include eight Big 12 games, Florida and Miami. Challenging but doable. It’s no tougher than LSU’s yearly schedule and they are doing OK.

Dr. Barron is putting up the good fight but he is at the mercy of the boosters ($$$) and Board of Trustees here. If they want to go, then his two choices are to accept the move to the Big 12 or start packing.

The bigger question needs to be not if FSU will go to the Big 12, but why won’t Miami be going with them?

David Moulton is a freelance writer and co-host of “Miller and Moulton in the Afternoon,” which airs weekdays 2 to 7 p.m. on WWCN/AM 770 ESPN. His column runs Sunday, Wednesday and Friday.

© 2012 Naples Daily News. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Comments » 3

SGIII writes:

Laughable. Some ACC schools are outstanding: Duke, UNC. Florida State is fine too, but it is ranked lower than several Big 12 schools: Baylor, Texas. Take a look at US News' rankings. Florida State is more like Kansas State than Harvard. By the way, Vanderbilt's reputation has somehow survived its association with the SEC.

ex31539er writes:

FSU's faculty protests too much.

The ACC may be the more academically prestigious athletic conference, but FSU (joined by NC State) completes the rank bottom of the ACC academically.

In fact, FSU wouldn't rank any higher than a middling academic power in the SEC (clearly below Vandy, UF, Georgia, Texas A & M, Missouri, Alabama, and Auburn, about on a parity with Kentucky, Tennessee, South Carolina, and LSU, and only clearly stronger academically than the Mississippis and Arky).

Why FSU would want to become Oklahoma's, Oklahoma State's, and Texas's permanent boy-toy is unclear. Maybe it's because the SEC totally dissed the Seminoles last year when the SEC spurned them in favor of the Aggies and yet another SEC team nicknamed the Tigers.

GrayGrantham writes:

...''No. 3: Power. “If the ACC is North Carolina-centered then the Big 12 is at least as Texas-centered.”

True, although the Big 12 has agreed to share primary TV revenues evenly,''...

The Big 12 revenue stream pays 76% of all Tier 1 and Tier 2 revenue equally to all members.

24% of all Tier 1 and Tier 2 revenue is reserved to be paid as incentives for: (1) Teams that play in Nationally Televised games, (2) Teams that schedule games on days other than Saturday (Thursday Nights, Hiolidays, etc...) (3) Strength of Schedule... That incentive pot share would be in addition to the 76% equal revenue share which would move FSU well above average in Big 12 revenue possibly $2 Million or more plus

Due to its National following, its "Brand" and its history (which some nay sayers emphasize may be ancient history)... FSU has the ability to immediately thrive in the Big 12 and claim a lions share of the incentives pot.

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