FSU AD shoots down Big 12 rumors

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On Wednesday, the ACC announced an extension of their exclusive media rights deal with ESPN that will reportedly pay each of its 14 members in the range of just over $17 million annually.

Somehow *cough*offseasoncontent*cough* that instantly transformed into the spark that fueled the already ridiculous rumor that Clemson and Florida State were looking to leave the league for the Big 12 (more on that later).

On Friday, Florida State’s athletic director Randy Spetman dismissed the rumor.

We’re in the ACC. We’re committed to the ACC,” Spetman told the Orlando Sentinel. “That’s where our president and the board of trustees has committed to, so we’re great partners in the ACC.”

The speculation that Clemson and/or FSU could leave the ACC had already been floating around for the past week or so. CFT emailed both athletic programs seeking response late last week. A representative from FSU replied “Commenting on rumors like this would only give life to this non-story.”

Clemson didn’t reply at all.

Still, that didn’t stop some media* and fans alike from keeping the rumor going when the ACC announced its deal earlier this week. Comparing the league’s reported payout with the impending Big 12 TV deal, the handing over of third-tier media rights to ESPN and FSU’s $2.4 million athletic department deficit for 2012-13 were all used as launching points to support the notion that the Seminoles would be packing their bags for the Big 12.

(*If you read any report that says fans have a say in realignment, stop reading. Also, the fact that this story is still coming from one source says something. And it’s not good.) 

In response, Spetman told the Sentinel he’s “not out negotiating” with other conferences.

And why should he be? No matter the payout relative to other leagues, I can’t think of any instance where a conference adds two schools and renegotiates a TV deal that pays its members roughly 25 percent more annually and then loses a prominent member to a conference that has lost four programs in two years.

This is all assuming the Big 12 even wants to expand. Last I’ve gathered, that’s not even a settled matter.

Additionally, and as college football blogger Chadd Scott points out in an excellent column, the reasoning behind FSU’s recent financial woes is a program problem, not an ACC one.

The ACC’s TV deal is at least in the ball park of college football’s other rich conferences in terms of first and second-tier media rights; it’s the league’s decision to hand over the third tier that is more unorthodox. As ESPN sports business blogger Kristi Dosh explains, third-tier rights “are often sold on a per-school basis (not negotiated by the conference as a whole) and often go to regional networks (Comcast Sports Southeast, Raycom, or SportsNet New York, for example.)”

But leaving one league for another over third-tier rights, especially under the pretense that a school (FSU) could develop a medium with the likeness of, say, the Longhorn Network? Yeah, okay.

Minnesota gives Fleck 1-year extension, plus raise

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Matt Krohn/USA TODAY Sports
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MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota football coach P.J. Fleck had his contract extended Wednesday by an additional year with a $1 million raise in annual salary, after the latest round of big spending by Big Ten rivals.

The new seven-year deal will run through the 2029 season, the university announced without releasing terms. Fleck will now make $6 million per year, a person with knowledge of the contract confirmed. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the deal had not yet been finalized.

Last week, Nebraska hired Matt Rhule and Wisconsin hired Luke Fickell to put them in the top tier of head coach compensation in the conference. In terms of average annual value, the 42-year-old Fleck is eighth in the Big Ten behind Michigan State’s Mel Tucker, Ohio State’s Ryan Day, Rhule, Fickell, Penn State’s James Franklin, Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh and Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz. All seven of those coaches make $7 million or more per season.

The Gophers (8-4) play Syracuse in the Pinstripe Bowl on Dec. 29. They’re 3-0 in bowl games under Fleck, who was hired away from Western Michigan in 2017.

Minnesota tied for second place in the Big Ten West Division this year, behind Purdue. Fleck is 43-27 overall with the Gophers, including 26-26 in conference play. They’re 0-6 against Iowa and 3-3 against Wisconsin, their primary rivals.

Fleck’s winning percentage is third-best in program history among coaches with 45 games or more, behind Henry Williams (1900-21) and Bernie Bierman (1932-41).

“What P.J. and his staff have done in a short amount of time is remarkable,” athletic director Mark Coyle said in a statement distributed by the university. “He has recruited and developed some of the best student-athletes to ever play at Minnesota and his team continues to excel academically, athletically and socially.”

This is the fifth time in six years on the job that Fleck’s deal has been adjusted to keep up with the competition, as power conference coach contracts these days rarely have less than five years on them at any time. Minnesota extended his deal a year ago, too.

In that iteration of his contract, the termination fees Fleck would owe Minnesota if he were to hop to another program were bumped way up. Those numbers landed at $7 million in 2023, $5 million in 2024, $4 million in 2025 and $3 million in 2026. Details about those figures in the new deal were not immediately available.

Virginia players granted extra year of eligibility

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — The NCAA has granted an extra year of eligibility to Virginia players whose eligibility has expired in the aftermath of the slaying of three members of the team, the school confirmed.

Lavel Davis Jr., D’Sean Perry and Devin Chandler were killed last month as they returned to campus from a field trip to see a play in Washington, D.C. A former player at the school, Christopher Darnell Jones Jr., is facing three counts of second-degree murder and other charges in the shooting. A fourth player, Mike Hollins, and student Marlee Morgan were injured in the shooting.

Virginia canceled its final two games of the season after the shooting, and the team and university community memorialized the victims in a nearly two-hour service on campus. Team members also traveled to each of the three funerals held for their teammates.