Big 12 officials deny Florida State rumors

By Eric Fisher

FSView & Florida Flambeau, Florida State U. via UWIRE

Although rumors around Tallahassee continue to swirl regarding the possible move of Florida State’s athletics programs to the Big 12 conference in favor of the university’s current residence in the Atlantic Coast Conference, comments issued from the Big 12 Spring Meetings contradicted that growing sentiment.

Speculation has been driven by the possibility of a large increase in television revenue that a move to the Big 12, which is regarded as a stronger football conference than the ACC, as well as fears that the potential four-team playoff that could be established this offseason for college football might leave the ACC on the outside looking in on college football’s new postseason model.

However, comments from Oklahoma State president Burns Hargis suggested that the ACC isn’t in as precarious of a position as some have speculated it to be.

“I think the ACC has some members who play football at a very high level,” Hargis said to Jim Lamar of the Tallahassee Democrat. “Television networks are going to want to televise their games. People want to see them. And they are, arguably, as good a basketball conference as there is.”

Speculation about a possible desire for Florida State to move largely began when the details of the ACC’s new television contract with ESPN were trickled out. Under that new contract which has yet to be released to the public or media, Florida State and its fellow ACC members will receive an average of $17 million per season, but the deal doesn’t stipulate for the schools to start receiving north of $20 million per year until the back end of it, at a time when other conferences may have already renegotiated newer and larger deals.

Meanwhile, the new Big 12 television contract with ESPN and Fox has the conference expecting to pay out more than $20 million to all members annually by 2016.

Despite the seemingly growing disparity between the ACC and Big 12 in television revenue, incoming Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby and interim Big 12 commissioner Chuck Neinas also expressed confidence that the ACC was in no danger of being left out of the shuffle of college football’s power structure.

“Without question I do,” said Bowlsby to Lamar when asked if he thought the ACC was still a power in college football. “It’s good football and its great universities.”
“We need them,” Neinas said to Lamar. “We’re [the other major conferences] not trying to exclude them. We’re trying to include them.”

The Big 12 stayed adamant all last week in its insistence that it was not looking to expand and is completely happy with its current 10 members.

“I think we should be the hardest fraternity in college athletics to join,” Bowlsby said. “And in the meantime, there’s not a thing wrong with the 10 we have.”

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