In some quarters, this website was strongly criticized for our piece detailing back channel communications with regard to Big 12 expansion plans. Now, it appears that “back channel” communication is moving out into the open, with Florida State University’s chairman of the board Andy Haggard blasting the ACC’s new television deal.
In an exclusive interview with Warchant.com (the FSU equivalent of GoPowerCat), Haggard made clear that he is not only unhappy with the new television deal, but that he would very much like to discuss his university joining the Big 12 Conference. Particularly galling to Haggard is the fact that the new deal forces schools to give up third-tier rights for football, but not basketball:
It’s mind-boggling and shocking. How can the ACC give up third tier rights for football but keep them for basketball? It continues the perception that the ACC favors the North Carolina schools.
He also notes that “95%” of the emails he has received from Seminole fans have been angry about the new deal. Interestingly, the above-cited article from WarChant notes that “as far as he knows there has been no contact between FSU and the Big 12 regarding possible expansion (emphasis added).” That modifier is particularly telling, as it is very careful not state unequivocally that contact has not occurred. And when asked directly whether the board would be interested in moving the university to the Big 12, he answered as follows:
How do you not look into that option? 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. With the SEC making the kind of money it does it’s time to act. You can’t sit back and be content in the ACC.
Haggard then made it known that he would be discussing how best to explore options outside of the ACC with school president Eric Barron, and athletic director Randy Spetman. Earlier this week, both men were on the ACC “company line”, claiming to be happy with the deal, etc., etc. Their tune is preparing to change, I would think.
This whole situation is eerily familiar. It seems to be playing out almost exactly like the Texas A&M-to-the-SEC saga played out last year. On July 25, 2011, then-Texas A&M athletic director made the following statement:
It’s good for all of us to stay together. We have natural rivalries. We’re in the same time zone… All I’ve thought about is making sure the conference stays together and everyone is treated fairly.
Not long afterward, Texas A&M left the Big 12 for the SEC, with Missouri joining them shortly thereafter. I anticipate this playing out much the same way. It seems that FSU is now trying to become “first movers” in this particular game of conference realignment. I actually did not see things moving quite this quickly, and the action may yet slow down a bit. But this time around, the Big 12 holds all the cards, and a seat at the head of the table.
Look for more on conference realignment here as summer hits, and things “heat up”…