The Confidential

The ACC Sports Blog

A Question for ACC Leadership

While Florida State–primarily the Internet commentariat–is acting like a bunch of spoiled brats, the ACC office has some answering to do as well.  In particular, the math is a bit fuzzy as to why the individual ACC schools are worth so much more money separately than together.  Perhaps Florida State is right that the most recent television contract was not negotiated sufficiently.

Consider this fuzzy math.  The Big XII is reported to get $20 million per year.  It is known that the Big 10 and SEC are already in that range (or above it or will be above it).  The Pac-12 is too, but that is irrelevant to this discussion.

In order for any of these four conferences to justify adding teams, the added teams would have to be worth at least enough to allow themselves to be paid what the current conference schools are making–say $20 million.  But, in that case, the conferences would only be breaking even by adding a new team.  For example, if the Big XII is getting $20 million per school, with 10 schools that is $200 million.  If Florida State and Clemson joined, this would be 12 teams.  In order to break even, the Big XII would have to renegotiate its contract to allow payment of $240 million.  In order for each of the schools to get $22 million apiece (10% more), the contract would have to be for $264 million ($22M x 12).  If so, this means that Florida State and Clemson are worth $64 million to the networks–$32 million apiece.

There is talk that some conference would be interested in taking Florida State, Clemson, Georgia Tech, Miami, North Carolina, Duke, Maryland, Virginia, and Virginia Tech.  Even North Carolina State is thought to be on the SEC’s radar.  That is everyone except Pitt, Wake Forest, Boston College, and Syracuse.  Assume that only six schools of those ten schools are worth adding to a current conference.  In order for those conferences to grow by 10%, then those six schools must be worth at least $192 million to the networks.

And then assume the other eight schools are worth a total of $80 million–approximately 1/3 value of the six schools worthy of being poached.  That seems fair.  With four of those schools arguably being worth added to an existing conference, that is probably quite low.  In any event, even this low number works out to $272 million for 14 teams.  This is nearly $19 million per team.  That is more than the reported value of the ACC package from ESPN.

This suggests a few things.

First, and obviously, the above math is simply wrong.  And there is no formal indication that any conference wants anyone from the ACC. If Florida State is the only valuable commodity, then maybe the ACC is–ironically–safe from being poached.

Second, conferences might be willing to expand even if they do not increase the revenue to existing schools.  But why expand if there is nothing to be gained?  If you are Texas, why add a potential obstacle to the playoffs in exchange for no additional money?  Illogical.   Same for the B1G and SEC.  Why expand for the sake of expanding when you already have great brands?

Third, the ACC negotiated poorly.  The Confidential is not saying that the ACC was not in a tough situation by having its rights locked-in and the inability to start a bidding war.  But, at the same time, the thought of schools leaving should have been a key focus.  Even without the Big XII rumors, the SEC is sitting right there with the potential to add schools.  And ESPN just saved the Big XII.  Would the threat of ACC dissolution be enough to get ESPN to save it?  We may find out.  It might have been better to negotiate this up front to keep Florida State happy.  Somehow the ACC had to get some leverage over ESPN.  If it failed to do so, some blame has to fall on leadership.

The last option seems most likely.  If so, Florida State has a legitimate gripe that the ACC did not maximize the TV revenue.  If that is the case, ACC leadership has some explaining to do.

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One thought on “A Question for ACC Leadership

  1. dacuseman on said:

    I think you are missing one glaring issue with the ACC’s ability to negotiate a contract. 4 schools are in one state. Consider this:

    North carolina has Wake, NCSU, Duke and UNC with a population of about 10.5 mil. A place where bball (the smaller $ maker) is king. Texas has UT, TT, TCU and Baylor with a population of about 32 mil. A place where football (the bigger $ maker) is king.

    FSU and Mia share Fla 3 other Schools. They have taken a step back in recent years and UF has, by far, been the best on average.

    Clemson plays little brother to USC too much. UVA is slowly rising after years of tumult, UM is spiraling, BC is BC, Cuse is imitating BC, and Pitt can’t put a complete season together. All of the programs have very good potential but haven’t been national players for a little bit. The only sure thing is Va Tech will end the season with the conference in a death grip. Usually anyway.

    Bottom line, The headliners are crowding each other and some of them are underacheiving while the supporting cast isn’t supporting as much as other conferences supporting cast are.

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