The Pac-12 as we knew it has collapsed over the past few weeks as six members have departed the league. Years of poor leadership and a failure to secure an adequate media rights agreement has led to this cataclysmic reckoning of the “Conference of Champions,” one that began last year with the UCLA and USC’s jump to the Big Ten.
If you read the title of this article, you may be asking “wait, what does Florida State have to do with this?” Well, while an entire league has collapsed on one coast, the Seminole brass in Tallahassee are doing their darndest to collapse another league on the other coast. FSU is trying to leave the ACC due to its annual television revenue distribution not being competitive with the Big Ten and SEC’s setups. The ACC’s current grant of rights agreement has locked every school into the league until 2036 and the Noles are turning over every stone to be able to break the agreement. The Pac 12’s demise was to the Big 12 and the Big Ten’s gain, bringing us another step closer to the age of superconferences in college sports. FSU’s successfully breaking from the ACC would be another seismic move that brings us even closer to that age.
Below, we’ll take a look at the best and worst case scenarios for Florida State in this current round off realignment.
Best case scenario
Florida State gets what it wants. The Seminole brass (and private equity) are able to maneuver through all of the legal and financial red tape to free the school from the ACC and put itself on the superconference market with its grant of rights in tact.
As one of the biggest brands in college athletics, the addition of Florida State would be appealing to either the Big Ten or the SEC. FSU has always functionally operated as an SEC school and its addition to the league would be a natural fit. Meanwhile, the Big Ten is now a nationwide conference that stretches coast to coast, but it has yet to infiltrate the south. FSU would be a huge piece to add to its treasure trove as it would add another strong brand that can compete for national championships.
With either move, the Noles would most likely need a partner to package themselves with and if they are successful in their gambit to leave the ACC, Clemson would most likely follow them right out the door. An FSU/Clemson package would be a strong combo to consider.
Worst case scenario
There are multiple failing scenarios for Florida State here:
1. FSU does leave the ACC, but it comes at a significant price that financially cripples the athletics department. Just short of a half a billion dollars is the estimated cost for the Noles to both exit the ACC and buy back its grant of rights. Even if they are able to whittle that number down in court, that is still an astronomical amount of money.
2. The months of saber-rattling by Florida State officials fail and they get stuck in the ACC. If they didn’t have enemies in the league before, the Seminoles become a pariah in the conference until 2036, creating a toxic environment for everyone involved. They’d be chained to the ACC as the gap between themselves and their SEC counterparts widen.
Worst and best case scenario
So let’s say FSU goes through all of this and does break free from the ACC. Well, that doesn’t guarantee it will just automatically receive an invite from the Big Ten and the SEC. The Big Ten still cares about giving off the pretense of academics and if it expanded south, it would probably target a North Carolina or a Virginia before looking towards Tallahassee. As for the SEC, they already have a strong presence in the Sunshine State with rival Florida. It doesn’t “need” Florida State like it did just over three decades ago when it was actively pursuing the Noles.
With no home to turn to, FSU could go independent again in football and honestly, that would pretty be sick. Bobby Bowden built the Florida State empire in the 1980’s with his “anywhere, anytime” methodology and and the Noles could go back to being this renegade program hunting down whoever is on the schedule.