FSU, Clemson, Oregon And Washington Want To Leave Their Conferences But Have Nowhere To Go
WASHINGTON — I reported Friday that in Tallahassee at a Board of Trustee’s meeting FSU athletic director Michael Alford said “something has to change moving forward” for the Seminoles to remain ACC members. The TV deal with ESPN that runs through 2036 suddenly is looking pretty bad not only to the Seminoles but officials I spoke to in Miami, North Carolina, and Clemson also voiced their displeasure for the deal with ESPN.
Meanwhile, out in the Pac-12 where UCLA and USC are headed to the Big Ten in 2024 they have no media deal and despite all ten remaining members saying they are committed to staying together some rumblings might not be true. Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado, and Utah are targets for the Big 12 while Oregon and Washington long to join the Big Ten.
“Look we are an inflection point in college sports where the gap between the Power 5 conferences, ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12, and SEC has never been this wide,” said sports business expert Evan Weiner. “We may very soon only have two 24-team conferences with the strongest teams surviving, and the rest left out.”
The Big Ten deal is a dream with Fox, CBS (Paramount+), and NBC (Peacock) making the conference the only Power 5 group with an all-broadcast lineup. Fox starts with Big Saturday at noon, then it is CBS at 3:30 p.m. with the afternoon window, followed by primetime with NBC under the lights for a 7:30 pm start.
The Big Ten is now coast to coast with the addition of UCLA and USC they are set to cash checks that could range between $75 and 100 million dollars per member. For the moment the conference is happy and while expansion might be in the cards it is highly unlikely that Miami, North Carolina, Oregon, or Washington will get an invitation anytime soon.
There is no doubt that Florida State and Clemson want to join the SEC where they have an outstanding deal with ABC/ESPN, but it is no easy leap. For the record, the new deal down south is $3 billion over ten years and will net each member about $60 million per year before, bowl, and March Madness cash.
Like the Big Ten, the SEC are covered in all the major broadcast windows each Saturday.
There is also a plot twist here where FSU could be blocked by the Gators because it takes a two-thirds majority of the SEC members voting to invite a school. If the University of Florida could block an FSU bid with the help of Kentucky, Georgia, and South Carolina,
Each of the Gators’ blocking partners has schools they don’t want in the conference, Louisville, Georgia Tech, and Clemson. So, even if FSU and the others do a jailbreak from the ACC there is no lock that they will be welcome to the SEC, although there might be enough votes to get them through the door.
It is highly unlikely that ESPN will give the ACC any more money because they have a signed agreement that doesn’t sunset till 2036. Each team in the conference gets about $36 million a year and ESPN has been good to the conference showcasing games on all of their platforms including the ACC Network.
The Big -12 just signed a deal with ESPN and Fox which is seven years long and will pay each member about $31.7 million a year. If they add another Power 5 member they could get a bit more money which is why for the moment they are eyeing the Pac-12 members.
Out West the Pac-12 still does not have deal, but one is expected soon with Apple TV+ and or Amazon expected to be a big part of the pact. There is also a Pac-12 After Dark ESPN deal that also could be done, but things are going to be around $25 million per member, and we will see if that is enough to keep them together.
Says Sports Marking consultant Paul King, “I have spoken to people around college sports and the idea of some arrangement between the Pac-12 and the ACC is a very long shot. But that said desperate times calls for desperate measures. Just because it is very long shot, is no reason not to give it a try. But that said I think some crazy times are coming in college sports and the sad part is that there will be some very good schools that won’t make the cut.”
Despite wanting to move Clemson, Florida State, Miami, North Carolina, Oregon and Washington are at the mercy of people who may not want them as partners at this point in time.