If you were calling the shots at Florida State what would you do?
The conference realignment carousel has started up again, and it's not just the Big East that is under attack.
Notre Dame's half-entry into the Atlantic Coast Conference made it appear as if the conference was set up for the long term. What it may have done instead is create the impetus for the ACC to be raided.
Maryland is gone. When the SEC and Big Ten eventually expand from 14 to 16 teams, the schools that will fit their television households/academic requirements will be North Carolina, Virginia, North Carolina State, Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech. The ACC will likely lose three, if not four, of these schools. Even if they replace some of the schools with the likes of UConn and Louisville, how does any of this impress Florida State?
UPDATE: Early Wednesday morning, the Atlantic Coast Conference's presidents and chancellors voted unanimously to add Louisville as the replacement for Maryland.
The Noles already feel underappreciated (highest football profile with no perks), underfunded (highest expenses in conference) and cannot cut their own broadcast deals (like Texas can with the Longhorn Network) without having to share them with the rest of the ACC. Florida State knows it is blocked from joining the Southeastern Conference -- if you believe a long-rumored voting alliance among Florida, Georgia and South Carolina to keep FSU, Clemson and Georgia Tech out of conference. FSU is not a candidate for the Big Ten or Pac 12.
That leaves two conferences -- the Big East and the Big 12.
While the first inclination is to laugh at the thought of FSU joining the Big East, what if the Big East said this: We'll have our new TV partner pay your $50 million exit fee from the ACC. It's not a stretch to say their new partner will be NBC, owned by Comcast. To them, $50 million is chump change. Now FSU can have its games broadcast at noon or 3:30 on NBC every Saturday.
By joining the Big East, they now cut down on travel considerably by playing the University of South Florida and the University of Central Florida in all sports. If FSU joined the Big East, what schools would stay? Would others join them? There are advantages to not just being a big fish in a small pond, but they could be a whale in a bathtub, and reaping plenty of rewards (more $$$) in the process.
Admittedly, this is a long-shot idea. Realistically, Florida State's options are to stay in the ACC and wait for it to get raided and reconstructed, and see what's left standing and hope it's OK.
Or they could be proactive and jump to the Big 12.
Don't you think FSU's arrival in the Big 12 would be greeted and have a similar impact nationally as Texas A&M's move to the SEC? The Seminoles join a superior football conference, one that opens up Texas for recruiting, and they make more money doing so. They can still schedule Florida and Miami in all sports, while in basketball what they lose in Duke/North Carolina gets replaced with Kansas (and possibly Louisville).
Of course, there is that sticky $50 million exit fee. It's not ideal, but the extra revenue (projected to be $15 million more per year) by the move could be used to pay that sum off within a few years.
This is FSU's reality.
Stay and hope it works out.
Take the bold move of joining the Big East, which will either be brilliant or folly.
Leave for the Big 12, which is the safest play, the whole time wishing it could have gone to the SEC.
What would you do if you were FSU?
I'd roll the dice and join the Big East (could be VERY lucrative financially as its savior).
My guess is they'll end up in the Big 12.
Syracuse basketball coach Jim Boeheim sarcastically suggested conferences should just hold a draft and pick schools instead of players.
He was kidding, but that could turn out to be the best option Florida State has.
Besides, TV households are all that count these days, and drafts get good ratings.
So Jim be careful, in college sports one man's "crazy" is becoming someone else's "reality."
(Contact David Moulton at email@example.com.)