Earlier in the week, BC blog, Eagle in Atlanta wrote a really excellent post on how and why ESPN should step in to defuse the whole mess of FSU wanting to flee (with another ACC school in tow) to the Big 12. It lays out a great case as to why it is in ESPN’s interest to do so and draws parallels to the way ESPN worked to make sure Texas didn’t destroy the Big 12 by leaving for the Pac-10/12/16. He doesn’t, however, see ESPN showing any interest in taking this kind of action. Read the whole thing, it’s really good.
I do disagree with him, though, in drawing the parallels to Texas. In the case of Texas, they were considering the Pac-12 for more than simply money and football. It was about the alignment with schools in the west. It was academic interests in being part of the Pac-[random number here]. Ultimately, they opted to stay in the Big 12 because it positioned them better — with the help of ESPN — to control more. The money was a big carrot, no question. But it was also the easier path. No fights with the Texas legislature over what would happen to Baylor and Texas Tech.
The better comparison would be to the situation of Texas A&M.
Texas A&M going to the SEC was not simply for money. The reality is, that the TV money for the Big 12 (and thus, Texas A&M) would have been almost on par with the SEC by the time their deal got done if it still had Texas A&M and Mizzou as opposed to WVU and TCU. The actions by Texas A&M was much more about the long-building anger towards Texas controlling and dominating the Big 12. Not feeling respected. Essentially dictating to Texas A&M through the conference.
The creation of the Longhorn Network and ridiculous money was the final straw. The fans, boosters and power brokers had enough. The president and athletic director were removed from this decision.
Texas A&M wanted to assert its independence from the Longhorns. All of their grievances built up over 100 years would be addressed by breaking away from Texas and the Big 12. It sure wasn’t to get a competitive advantage to getting in the national championship picture. Having LSU, Alabama and Auburn just in their division makes that clear. It was about reaching a point where history, geography, and every other tie was nothing compared to the anger, frustration and all the negatives they felt towards Texas and the Big 12.
On its face, Florida State wanting out of the ACC seems to be about the money. That’s driving the justification, and a significant difference between Texas A&M and FSU. But this has become about so much more to FSU fans. It’s about getting out of a conference that favors the Carolina schools and the old blood. It’s about getting out of a basketball conference to a conference that shares their values — football. It’s about getting out of a conference that didn’t respect what they had accomplished and done for the conference. About getting out of a conference where they were lumped in as a punchline to college football in the present.
In short, I don’t think ESPN coming with more money would mollify the FSU mob. Nor would the ACC giving FSU more money do the trick.
Hell, VT could finally win a national championship. Clemson could stop being Clemson at the end of the season. Miami could return to top-ten status. FSU could return to prominence. The ACC could finally meet the expectations it and others expected for its football when it expanded in 2003. It might hold them for the short-term, but that’s it. It wouldn’t resolve the underlying anger. The perception has hardened into reality for most FSU fans. To them, the only solution is to leave the ACC.
The real problem for FSU. Getting the Big 12 to decide to have another expansion.