Florida State announced Wednesday that Savannah State will fill the void on its schedule created when West Virginia reneged on the September 8th game after moving to the Big XII Conference.
After West Virginia waited until the 11th hour to cancel its game with Florida State, the 'Noles were left scrambling. FSU knew it needed to achieve several goals, including:
-scheduling a game against an FBS team that presents a minimal chance of loss in order to maximize the possibility of an at-large bid for a BCS game. Ideally, this should not be an FCS as the 'Noles already play an FCS in Murray State);
-not schedule any additional road games because of the new nine-game conference schedule and the damage it does to local businesses; and
-save face with the many fans who grew up with the "anyone, anywhere" philosophy and don't realize that scheduling like that is now foolish as the BCS system does not have a strength of schedule component following the 2004 changes by at least publicly attempting to schedule a tougher game.
How did Florida State meet each of its goals? I'd give them a "B" considering the circumstances. Why a "B"? Because I cannot give an "A" for another FCS school.
Release from the school:
"West Virginia's announcement at the 11th hour really put us in a very difficult position," said FSU Director of Athletics Randy Spetman. "We contacted every BCS school that had an opening in hopes of replacing WVU with a BCS opponent, but none of those few schools could make it work either because of our dates or theirs. It is important for our fans to realize that the schools we contacted during the search did not pass on the 2012 game out of concern for the competition, but because of challenges they faced with schedule changes this late in the year.
"We worked with Oklahoma, Arkansas, Texas A&M, Cincinnati, Syracuse and Pitt to name a few along with our current non-conference opponents and television partners, but reached a point where our options simply dried up. We might have been able to play on the road at some BCS schools this season, but that would cost our fans and the university one of just seven chances to play a home game and also would have a negative impact on our local economy."
Florida State will play Savannah State on September 8th and the entire 2012 schedule will be released shortly by the ACC. Savannah State will receive a guarantee of $475,000 to play the game.
"I know our administration was frustrated by West Virginia's decision and I can tell all our fans that we've done everything we could to explore all the options for a home game," said head coach Jimbo Fisher. "I believe the plans are for the ACC to go to a nine-game conference schedule once Pitt and Syracuse begin play. With Florida always on the schedule, it will leave us just two non-conference games every year so scheduling BCS teams will be more challenging from here on out for everybody."
Florida State has previously announced the dates for 2012 non-conference games against Murray State (September 1), South Florida (September 29 in Tampa) and Florida (November 24). Season tickets for 2012 are $321 each, which is a savings of thirteen percent over the purchase price of single game tickets if they are available. The single game ticket price for the Savannah State game will be $40.00.
AD Randy Spetman: There was a possibility if we shifted our schedule the bye week would have been Sept 8 and we would've played 11 in a row— Seminoles.com (@Seminoles_com) February 22, 2012
The 'Noles publicly tried for another FBS team, but obviously couldn't offer a return road trip, making the price extremely high, particularly on such short notice. The price being paid here seems to be pretty good.
It's also important to note that FSU had to contact those big schools to show that it made an effort to mitigate its damages should it elect to sue West Virginia for additional damages (hint, hint). Spetman estimated that FSU could lose as much as $2.5M.
While there is no strength of schedule component in the BCS, it could play in the minds of voters who could be quick to latch on to the "two D1-AA/FCS" mantra. Early on, however, that doesn't seem to be the case, at least with one prominent writer for Sports Illustrated, who acknowledged that FSU is not the one to ditch the big game with WVU:
Well, they made a deal with WVU, which should be top 15. RT @jkmhenry: So 2 1-AAs, ahem,FCS opponents for the mighty seminoles?— Andy Staples (@Andy_Staples) February 22, 2012
If I had been stiffed out of a home game, I wouldn't give up a few million to play a road game. Sorry. That's not smart business.— Andy Staples (@Andy_Staples) February 22, 2012
Ultimately, FSU has games at Virginia Tech, v. Florida, v. Clemson, at Miami, at N.C. State, at USF and potentially at Virginia Tech again in the ACC Championship Game. The 'Noles have plenty of opportunity to show their wares against top competition and this is not a big deal.