Rivals's Florida State site Warchant.com made headlines on Saturday with an exclusive interview with Florida State Board of Trustees Chair Andy Haggard. Haggard blasted the ACC's most recent TV deal with ESPN, dousing gasoline on Florida State message boards and blogs already ablaze with fans looking to see their Seminoles playing in the Big 12.
Haggard is shocked and outraged that the ACC gave up its third tier rights for football, but left those very same rights in the hands of ACC schools for basketball.
"It's mind-boggling and shocking," said Haggard. "How can the ACC give up third tier rights for football but keep them for basketball?"
"It continues the perception that the ACC favors the North Carolina schools," noted Haggard.
Just one problem with that statement. Actually, there are several, but the one that most stands out is that ESPN controls all third tier rights not only in football, but also in basketball.
"There is no change in fundamental rights at this time," [ACC Associate Commissioner Michael] Kelly said. "ESPN does have the rights to all of our football and all of our men's basketball games. There is no opportunity for our conference or our schools to produce games beyond that in those two sports."
Not only were Haggard's comments about the most recent TV contract with ESPN uninformed, his claim was nothing new. ESPN owns all third tier media rights for football and men's basketball as stipulated not only in the current media rights contract, but the previous one as well. And the one before that.
Haggard's rant continued on to debunk the myth that Florida State benefits from the academic association with other ACC schools and membership in the IAC.
"No FSU graduate puts on his resume or interviews for a job saying they are in the same conference as Duke and Virginia," he said. "Conference affiliation really has no impact on academics."
This comment is so "mind-boggling and shocking" that it doesn't even deserve a rebuttal. The scariest part of the comment is that it's coming from the chair of the BOT entrusted to run a public state university.
Later in the afternoon, Florida State president Eric Barron was forced to apologize for Haggard's misinformed comments.
"Florida State University regrets that misinformation about the provisions of the ACC contract has unnecessarily renewed the controversy and speculation about University's athletic conference alignment. Florida State respects the views of the Chair of its Board of Trustees that, of course, any university would examine options that would impact university academics, athletics or finances. At the same time, Florida State is not seeking an alternative to the ACC nor are we considering alternatives. Our current commitments remain strong."
I'll give Florida State fans that the ACC's new TV deal isn't great, though ironically, it is Florida State that should shoulder much of the blame for the conference's mediocrity in football. It goes both ways.
If you jump up and down and demand that you get paid more since you feel you are doing most of the "heavy lifting" over the past three seasons, you should also take on the responsibility when the conference doesn't get the pay day you wanted (though to say the ACC's TV deal vis a vis the other four conferences is a referendum on the conference's football product isn't quite right, either). And of course, there's no mention of 2004-08 when FSU managed zero NCAA Tournament appearances, vacated 12 wins in football and actually hurt the conference by knocking off a more prominent Virginia Tech team in the inaugural ACC Championship Game.
Should be an interesting four days down in sunny Amelia Island, Florida.