Despite just opening its own indoor athletic facility, Florida State can’t help but feel it’s the runt of the pack. According to David Hale of ESPN, even though the university spent $90 million on athletics last year it is still behind most of its local SEC competitors.
For example, both Alabama and Florida—two of Florida State’s main competitors on the recruiting trail—invested over $110 million in their respective sports. But here’s the catch: Nick Saban’s football team helps Crimson Tide athletics recoup the funds easily—Alabama garnered over $30 million from football tickets last year.
Of course, when your team is in the football-crazed SEC, is competing for a third national title in four seasons and has a stadium that can hold over 100,000 people, your athletic department tends to easily recoup its expenses.
The scary fact is Alabama got all this money from just tickets—not just conference revenue and TV broadcasts. But that’s not the only trick—Alabama has luck on its side.
Tuscaloosa is close enough to its main markets to get fans in the stands. Campus is just an hour’s distance from Birmingham, arguably the college football capital of the world. Montgomery is roughly two hours away. And even though Memphis is three hours away, it is actually about two hours closer to Tuscaloosa than the home of Volunteer Nation in Knoxville.
Alabama gets the extra push in dollars from ticket sales because many of its fans are in large cities that are close enough to Tuscaloosa that a trip isn’t a burden.
In Tallahassee, it’s another story—Florida State actually has to rely on the TV markets because the fans are too dispersed. The Jacksonville market is not only a solid three hours away, but is a Florida Gator market. The Gators, after all, play Georgia in the city every year.
The closest major market to the west is Mobile, which is solid territory for both Alabama and Auburn.
That’s why FSU has to catch up and then get ahead. Great games must be played in Tallahassee, both for viewership and for the fans to make the trip to Doak Campbell Stadium. In 2012, Jimbo Fisher’s team hosted Clemson and Florida, but the Seminoles also hosted two FCS schools—Murray State and Savannah State.
That’s why Florida State should pressure the NCAA to allow a more dynamic and thrilling conference schedule to the Seminoles—one that would scrap the ACC divisions while keeping the Championship Game.
Brian Favat of BC Interruption came up with an excellent idea to bring more important games to the members of each ACC fan base.
Favat’s system would remove the aforementioned confusing Atlantic and Coastal labels and have each ACC team face its main rivals. Each team would play nine (not eight) games, boasting five great games against in-conference rivals. The other four games would rotate between the eight remaining conference opponents, ensuring each full-time member in the ACC plays each other in a home-and-home series over four years.
Out of all the teams, the Seminoles would benefit the most from Favat’s system.
Favat recommends that FSU play Miami, Clemson, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech and Louisville annually. The Seminoles already play Miami and Clemson annually (they will play Louisville annually once Maryland joins the Big Ten). The Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech games, though, will only occur twice over the next 12 years.
These are the games that fans would pay to see—especially Virginia Tech. Combine a stronger nine-game in-conference schedule, and add Florida. The Seminoles already have 10 games taken care of each year, and will already play Notre Dame from time to time. Jimbo Fisher’s team should have a better strength of schedule (say, like the 2014 schedule) and will get more fans in Doak.
When Jimbo Fisher first became head coach, a lot of shirts said “Take Doak Back.” It’s about time the fans have games that make them want to go back.