FSU President says Seminoles will be “very aggressive” in conference realignment

From SportsIllustrated.com

College football is changing. Over the last year, it’s become apparent that teams need to figure out a way to get into the Big Ten or SEC. If not, they risk falling behind in the modern landscape of the sport.

Last fall, it was announced that Texas and Oklahoma would be leaving the Big 12 for the SEC in 2025. This summer, news broke that the Big Ten had countered with plans to acquire USC and UCLA in 2024.

In July, NoleGameday reported that Florida State is in the process of exploring a move to a new conference. The Seminoles have had discussions with the SEC and Big Ten since last summer. Both conferences have displayed an interest in adding the university to their group of current members, along with other schools in the ACC.

For the first time, Florida State University President Richard McCollough commented on where the Seminoles stand in conference realignment. While speaking at the Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce Conference on Saturday, McCollough said that Florida State will be very aggressive in its pursuit to remain competitive.

“It’s something I’m spending a lot of time on and we’re getting a lot of help,” McCollough said. “We’re trying to do anything we can to think about how we remain competitive. Florida State is expected to win. We’re going to be very aggressive.”

McCullough’s comments came in the aftermath of the Big Ten signing the largest media rights deal ever by a college athletic conference. On Thursday morning, the league announced it inked a deal with Fox/FS1, CBS, NBC, and the Big Ten Network worth more than $8 billion over seven years.

According to The Athletic, the duration of the respective contracts mean the Big Ten will renegotiate its media rights deal again before the SEC’s deal with ESPN expires in 2034. Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren recently said that he could see the conference having 20 members in an interview with HBO Sports’ Bryant Gumbel.

Even with interest from the SEC and Big Ten, Florida State is currently hamstrung by the ACC’s Grant of Rights, which isn’t set to expire until 2036. In 2013, each president or chancellor signed a deal to surrender their respective schools’ media rights to the ACC with an original expiration date of June 30, 2027. However, the agreement was extended for nine more years in 2016 to provide increased television revenue and to get the ACC Network launched.

One interesting hire to note from new Athletic Director Michael Alford, Deputy Athletics Director for External Operations Janeen Lalik. In Lalik’s hiring release, Alford noted that she has “extensive experience in media negotiations and the identification of revenue streams.” That’s quite coincidental when you consider the position that the Seminoles are in.

It won’t be easy to wrangle their way out of the Grant of Rights or exit fee and it’s probably going to take some time either way. Regardless, it’s certainly comforting that McCollough is confident enough to comment on Florida State’s direction in conference realignment. The Seminoles seem prepared to take drastic measures to get back to the pinnacle of college football.