Florida State is reportedly once again exploring the idea of leaving the ACC after being snubbed by the College Football Playoff despite an undefeated season and conference championship. FSU leaders have renewed in-depth discussions about the school’s long-term future in the ACC in recent weeks, sources told ESPN.
The news is perhaps unsurprising given the conversations this past summer and fall. As conference realignment destroyed the Pac-12 and shrunk the Power 5 to a Power 4, FSU officials became increasingly vocal about their displeasure with the ACC’s financial position on media rights revenue — in the coming years ACC schools will each annually receive at least $30 million less than their Big Ten and SEC counterparts.
FSU president Richard McCullough said the university would “very seriously” consider leaving the ACC without major changes. The conference is shifting its revenue distribution slightly to incentivize schools that win, but those changes won’t make up significant gaps.
Since missing out on the CFP, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has proposed that $1 million in state funds go toward a lawsuit against the snub. Next year, the CFP expands to 12 teams, making it nearly unthinkable that any undefeated conference champion would be left out.
Could FSU Actually Leave the ACC?
The ACC’s grant of rights is supposed to hold schools together until 2036. Leaving early would cost FSU a buyout fee of $120 million, plus any additional legal fees associated with the move. The Seminoles would also need another conference to join, as the school’s athletics director Michael Alford has ruled out the option of going independent.
As the college landscape continues to shift, FSU could have potential allies in Clemson and North Carolina, who voted along with the Seminoles against adding Stanford and Cal to the ACC. The SEC would be a logical geographic fit for any of those three schools. The Big 12 has one conference member in the state of Florida (UCF), but no others border North Carolina or South Carolina.