Florida State Is Sending Big Signals That It May Want Out Of The ACC

Florida State quarterback Jordan Travis

Getty Image / Joe Robbins

Florida State is one of the biggest brands in all of college football. The Seminoles came to prominence throughout the 1980’s and 90s under legendary coach Bobby Bowden.

Florida State was historically independent until they joined the ACC in 1991. In the 32 seasons since, they’ve won a remarkable 18 ACC titles in football, significantly more than any other team.

But, the college football world is changing. Major media deals by the Big Ten and SEC signed in the last few years and set to start soon have widened the financial gap between the conferences. Even lowly Big Ten and SEC teams like Rutgers will be receiving significantly more media money than powers like Florida State or Clemson in other conferences.

These developments have necessitated some major changes to the college football landscape. Texas and Oklahoma will be joining the SEC in 2024, while USC and UCLA will be coming east to the Big Ten that same year.

There’s no doubt that Florida State, who has already won three national titles, could win more. But, if they fall behind financially too far, it will make that much less likely. So, Florida State is taking things into their own hands and putting pressure on the ACC, or else.

FSU athletic director Michael Alford spoke out recently about wanting the ACC to have unequal revenue sharing and rewarding the bigger brands like the ‘Noles, Clemson, Miami, and UNC.

Here are more details, courtesy of ESPN.

“Something has to change because we cannot compete nationally being $30 million behind every year,” Alford said. “It’s not one year. We’re talking about $30 million compounded year after year.”

The ACC is locked into its television deal with ESPN through 2036. The league also has all schools tied together with a grant of rights that lasts the length of the contract. In the most recent available financial filing, the ACC distributed a record $578 million to its members for 2020-21. The SEC distributed $721.8 million in 2021-22, but that is before its new deal kicks in.

Based on a market valuation that he had commissioned, Alford told board members on Friday that FSU contributes roughly 15% of the value in the ACC’s media rights deal but the school only gets 7% of the distributions as one of 14 full members of the conference.

Florida State is completely in the right here, but it’s hard to see the other schools agreeing to unequal distribution. Needless to say, the college football chess pieces have not stopped moving.