If you believe that FSU has at least been exploring the possibility of moving to the Big 12, then like any organization it needs to tally up all the pluses and minuses (revenue and other) that would make that move something worth doing. I've tried to compile a complete list of major financial considerations as well as other perhaps less-important issues that I believe FSU should be taking a look at and doing their research on.
(I'm looking at the Athletics side for this checklist, ignoring for now the Academics part of the equation).
I've broken the checklist down into categories I call "Major Financial issues" and "Other Considerations". Now some may argue that one item belongs in one category or the other and that's fine -- I'm just trying to have some semblance of organization here. I'll also try to outline what I think are the major points for each item listed without going into too much detail -- I'd like to leave that part for you guys.
The Checklist is bigger than you might think ..... More after the jump ...
Let's start with the Major Financial Issues
1) Latest Big12 TV contract dollars with ESPN/FOX vs. ESPN ACC contract dollars
We don't have a definitive dollar difference yet. But most believe the new Big 12 contract will be for several million more per year than the current ACC contract. We also know that the ACC contract includes all of Tier3 rights where the Big12 contract will not. A major question to be answered is what is the estimate of these Tier3 rights dollars to FSU.
2) Playoff System - Distribution of Dollars to Conferences
The new playoff system was just agreed to, but the distribution of the dollars to both conferences as well as individual schools participating in the playoffs has yet to be determined. The dollars are enormous -- I've seen one estimate of 100 million for the semi-finals (2 of them) and 200 million for the MNC. What percentage of the total dollars will go to all the Conferences, and what might be left to go to the individual playoff-bound schools?
The concern for FSU is if the Big 4 conferences try to set things up so that the ACC, BE and other (smaller) conferences get a lot less of the pot-portion devoted to Conferences. It's a possibility as the Big 4 seem to be working together and the ACC and others are on the outside looking in.
The second big consideration is how often does FSU see itself or one of it's ACC brethren participating in the playoffs. Missing getting a team into the playoffs will be a major financial hit. Getting two of your conference's teams into the playoffs would be a huge bonus and a financial windfall.
A final consideration will be if Strength-of-Schedule (SOS) will be a major factor in determining what teams make the Playoffs. If SOS is a major factor, does it help being in Big 12 or hurt being in ACC?
3) Champs Bowl payout vs. Orange Bowl payout
The newly created Champs bowl will pit the best SEC team not in the Playoff system vs the best team not in the Playoffs from the Big 12. This new bowl is somewhat comparable to the Rose Bowl who will be doing pretty much the same things with the PAC and B10 conferences. This is new money that will be split (according to published reports) 50/50 between the Big12 and the SEC. Estimates are that this bowl could bring as much (and possibly more than) 40 million dollars per conference.
The ACC has a tie in with the Orange Bowl, but I've heard varying reports on dollar estimates for the bowl (less than Rose/Champs - say 30 million). But I've also heard that the ACC owns the Orange bowl, and in years where it participates as a Playoff site, the ACC will still profit (just not sure about this, wonder if someone can clarify).
4) Projections for a Big12 CCG
Currently the Big 12 does not have a Conference Championship Game. By going to 12 teams, a CCG game would bring in a lot of revenue that isn't happening right now. Estimates -- maybe 30 million? This is additional revenue on top of the existing Big 12 network contract (split 12 ways).
5) ACC Contract Buy-Out
FSU needs to know how much it will cost to leave the ACC and who is picking up what part of the check. What incentive will Big 12 offer? Does FSU need to come up with part? Will Boosters need to be contacted to help raise the funds? What if there was a lawsuit over FSU leaving -- who covers those costs?
Now we can list the items that I called Other Considerations
1) Stability of Big 12 Conference
There is financial stability and then there's team stability. The recent history of the Big 12 should be of concern to FSU. How likely are any of the "bell cow" teams (read UT and OU) in the conference likely to bolt? In that respect perhaps a multi-year, signed by all members Guarantee Of Rights (GOR) might make the situation more palatable. There's supposed to be one in the works, but no one has officially seen it .... and of course, it's never been challenged in court. Would the threat of the GOR, say, still keep a UT or OU from joining the PAC?
2) Division setup of B12 (at 12 members)
First, you have to get to 12 members. If you think that FSU is #11, would there be anyone that FSU would prefer to have as a #12? I would think this is why Clemson and GT are getting some mention as possible #12 candidates. It would be helpful to FSU on a number of other fronts (see the additional other considerations listed below).
Also, you'd like some input on how to divide up the 12 team Big12 into 6 team divisions. Is it advantageous to have all the TX teams and OU in one division, and the non-TX teams in the other? How often would FSU like to play TX and OU?
3) Future Big 12 Expansion Plans
Does the Big 12 have a Master Plan for Expansion? Will there be any moves of getting other teams (ACC most likely) to join the Big 12 in order to have more of a Southern component and not leave FSU on an island? How much say will FSU have with this?
4) Valuation of FSU Fans/Alums
This was an interesting point that I think LouC has alluded to in some of his earlier posts. Leaving the ACC means leaving areas of the country outside of Florida (primarily Southeast) where FSU alums/boosters/fans reside. As LouC pointed out, if FSU leaves the ACC, will there be much talk about FSU in cities like Atlanta, Charlotte, DC? Does the Booster from these areas still value games with ISU, OSU, Baylor the way he values games there in North Carolina? Will he travel to the away games as much? Will he continue to support FSU like before -- buy tickets, send money? Is this offset at all by picking up new fans in the Big 12?
5) Travel Costs
How much will travel costs increase (not just for FSU football but for all sports) with membership in the Big 12?
How does recruiting change with membership in the Big 12? Since our primary recruiting has been primarily in the Southeast, how is, let's say, a Georgia high-school recruit going to feel about playing in a Big 12 conference where FSU and maybe one other team are represented in the South? Or does the Big 12 allow us to recruit heavier in Texas than we ever have before, and make headway?
7) Notre Dame and their upcoming NBC contract
How will things work out with Notre Dame and NBC? Another lucrative contract virtually guarantees that ND will remain independent. If the contract is not so great ...... can Swofford pull a rabbit out of the hat and get ND to sign up with the ACC? Would Notre Dame add enough money (by altering the existing ESPN contract) to bring the ACC contract in line with the other Big4 conferences?
8) Florida and their new SEC contract (and possible TV network)
One of the reasons for even considering leaving the ACC is how FSU is surrounded by SEC teams that consistently pull in more dollars than the ACC teams. The gap appears to be widening with the talk of the upcoming new SEC contract. How does FSU compete with UF if the dollar discrepancy grows year after year? How soon before there is absolute proof that FSU can't compete with UF on getting the best talent in the state, or elsewhere, to come to FSU? How much is the gap going to be? Even if FSU can't equal their SEC counterparts, can they at least remain close if they move?
9) Any other options?
In the foreseeable future, are there any other conference options for FSU membership? However unlikely, we must determine what kind of chance, if any, we have to join another conference such as the SEC. We can also look at independence. I suspect that for FSU independence is not a financial option. However the SEC still might consider FSU if it felt it's main plan for expansion into new territories (primarily the Carolinas and Virginia/Maryland) can not be realized. How confident could FSU be that the fallback plan for the SEC would be to take FSU in that event? Would it think to refuse the Big 12 for this possibility and risk getting squeezed out and having to live in the ACC until ....?
Well, hopefully if you stayed through all of this, you see that the FSU BOT and President have a lot of information to gather, and quite a bit of it is not available at this point in time. Some good guessing can be made, but perhaps this is the reason that many are saying that a decision for FSU won't happen before the Aug 15 deadline this year.
Anyway, I hope that this is indeed what FSU is doing right now, and then after they have all the facts they can make the best choice for FSU going forward.
(p.s. first FanPost)