Monday, word came that the ACC schools agreed to a grant of rights through 2025. In the simplest of terms, a granting of rights means that if a school leaves the conference, the conference keeps its media rights for the duration of the term. This effectively means that no school, absent hitting multiple Powerball jackpots, can leave the conference, because the conference would keep all of its TV money.
The move has many Florida State people perplexed. Why would Florida State agree to such a move?
Let's first acknowledge that the people in the position to make this move in the office of the president and the board are not dumb. The power players are comprised mostly of successful businessmen who didn't climb the ranks by making bad deals.
One theory is that Florida State had fewer options than its supporters believed.
Significant geographic considerations aside, perhaps the gap between Florida State's academics and those acceptable to the Big Ten was too great, or the stability of the Big XII too much in doubt for FSU to be able to make a move. The SEC remains a pipe dream.
Would conference stability be enough to entice Florida State to sign?
Probably not, given that before signing, Florida State was perhaps the biggest threat to the stability of the conference.
FSU fans are left wondering about the other shoe. At the very least, it would be irrational of Florida State to sign away its freedom without incentive. The Seminoles are the ACC's most valuable property, being responsible for more TV earnings than almost any two other conference programs combined.
Given that, Florida State's signature represents a tremendous leverage situation, and it would be irrational to not extract extra benefit for the school in exchange for the granting of rights. But what did FSU get in return?
Is it the addition of another team? Some sort of agreement with Notre Dame?
Or is it a greater cut, either from the TV contract or coming ACC TV Network? Jeremy Fowler of CBS reports that media rights, thanks to the unanimous grant, will net each school an average of "$20M plus starting July 1." With the future of cable moving to an on-demand model, Florida State would be smart to negotiate to keep revenue from the ACC Network derived from its shows, as opposed to agreeing to a split.
Or perhaps a move to allow bowl teams to keep their revenue? Currently, ACC teams pool their bowl revenue and split it among all teams, even those that do not make a bowl or who are ineligible to play in the postseason due to NCAA rules violations. Plans for playoff revenue, should an ACC team make it, have not yet been released. That's another bargaining chip in this deal that could be involved.
There's also the remote chance that the ACC threatened Florida State with some sort of ultimatum and forced its hand. In which case the net here would be just the 15-percent increase each league school is getting by going from $17.5M to $20M.
As of right now, we simply do not know what, if anything, Florida State got in return for signing this deal. FSU people have to hope its significant, however, lest the Florida State program continue to slip further behind its neighboring SEC schools.