Florida State has reportedly re-entered discussions about its long-term future as a member of the ACC in order to avoid a potential future rejection of the College Football Playoffs, as per ESPN. According to a letter to Florida Senator Rick Scott, the College Football Playoff Committee cited injuries to key players, particularly Quarterback Jordan Travis, and the strength of the schedule as central reasons why the 13-0 Seminoles were left on the outside looking in.
Although the Seminoles will not be leaving the ACC in the near future, ESPN reports that „the situation is expected to escalate in the near future.“
The state of Florida is not likely to leave the ACC anytime soon, as there is currently no other viable option. With other Power Five conferences shrinking in the last calendar year, the ACC has solidified its position with long-term team commitments for the seasons 2024 and 2025. Moreover, the ACC has signed new media rights contracts within the last six months. It is also the earliest expiring (in 2036) and most fortified conference. Despite some dissent among ACC schools, the conference managed to quell the discord by transitioning to a performance-based revenue model. However, larger schools still have a steep $120 million buyout to exit the conference, in addition to legal expenses associated with negotiations. To put that in perspective, when Texas and Oklahoma left the Big 12, they paid a combined $100 million in their final year of media rights contracts.
While it’s not uncommon for schools to pay to position themselves strategically, the practical challenges of leaving the ACC include large financial costs. Florida State has a total endowment of 709 million dollars and raises approximately $70 million annually in donations. Additionally, logistically, the SEC would likely be the ideal conference partner, as its media contract expires in 2034, while the Big 12 and Big Ten contracts expire earlier. However, the geographic distance could pose challenges.
Despite the obstacles, Florida State’s loss in this year’s College Football Playoffs doesn’t necessarily mean that leaving the ACC is the best option for them. The Seminoles continue to compete and excel in other sports, such as softball and women’s soccer. With the upcoming expansion of the College Football Playoffs to 12 teams in 2024, the current issue faced by Florida State may resolve itself. This short-sighted conflict should hopefully come to an end soon.