With all of the recent media attention focusing on conference expansion, and college programs considering another round of musical chairs, FSU seemed to be grabbing a share of the attention at a possible power grab by the elite Southeastern Conference. While almost seemingly overlooked, it seemed a requisite to take a closer look at the Seminoles current home—the ACC.
Now the only legitimate and fair comparison of these two Bowl Championship Conferences is to look at them at arm's length and beg the question—is the ACC really a poor placement for Florida State? Is the SEC a smarter move should the conference expand? Would the ACC truly collapse if the super conference came into existence?
Let's examine both of these conferences from a few different angles, and first determine what the ACC and SEC have to offer, and where this might lead them in a conference expansion universe.
The ACC and SEC both have members in the prestigious Association of American Universities, which award such is a distinction to only the most fundamentally complete research and teaching Universities. The AAU currently has 63 members, and contains the likes of Brown, Stanford, Yale, Carnegie Mellon and Johns Hopkins Universities.
ACC Members include: Duke, Virginia, North Carolina, Maryland and newly accepted Georgia Tech.
SEC Members include: Florida and newly accepted Vanderbilt.
It's no secret that the SEC has dominated the college landscape for the last quarter of a century or so, but what might be surprising is that the SEC has dominated very little else.
The ACC has competed nationally with the Big East year-in and year-out as the best top-to-bottom basketball conference, with teams like the Blue Devils as the most recent ACC school to win a National Championship. Sure, the Florida Gators won the prestigious honor back-to-back in 2006 and 2007, but it's not like it's an every day occurrence. In the ACC, it really has been. Heck, it's not like winning back-to-back National Championships hasn't been done before, (see 1991 and 1992 Duke Blue Devils.)
In baseball, the ACC has featured a top seed in the College World Series five times in just the last 10 years—compare that to the SEC's two.
While LSU has managed to represent the SEC with six College World Series trophies, compared to four in Miami for the ACC, the SEC has yet to see another team within the conference win a National Title. Meanwhile, Wake Forest has also represented the ACC with a championship. Among the top baseball teams in the country, in terms of winning percentage all-time, are: #2 FSU and #3 Miami, boasting winning percentages of .731 and .716 respectively. The best team representing the SEC can be found much lower on that list, at #21 with Mississippi State's winning percentage of .635, just four places lower than the ACC's third best team, Clemson at #17.
In some of the minor NCAA D-1 sports, the ACC also boasts many of the nation's most elite programs. Lacrosse year-in and year-out has all four ACC schools seemingly competing each year for a National Championship. In Tennis, Virginia has become a household program. In Track, Florida State held three national titles in a row, until a cheating scandal cost them two titles, yet are on the verge of a fourth this season.
In comparison, the SEC boasts some talented golfers from the Universities of Florida and Georgia, and multiple national championships in swimming and diving, (Florida and Auburn.)
On the women's side, the SEC and the ACC boast a fairly even pairing in Volleyball (FSU and Florida) and Basketball, (Tennessee and Duke.) With Soccer giving a slight edge to the ACC with FSU, UNC, Boston College, Wake Forest and Virginia Tech respectfully steadfast atop the rankings and RPI year after year.
Believe it or not:
Money is always a difficult topic when faced with an economic downturn, and cutbacks in budget spending can certainly dim matters further when you are competing for new jewels to hold in your hallowed crown.
ESPN (and CBS) unfortunately realized these difficulties a bit late, and fortunately for the both the ACC and SEC, the ink had already dried on both television deals that instantly made them the most financially coveted conferences for many years to come.
After a bidding war with Fox Sports, ESPN and the ACC recently agreed to a huge payday, increasing from their old contract of roughly $73 million, to a fairly impressive payoff of $155 million a year. Compared to the ACC's new deal, the SEC's money move will guarantee them $205 million dollars a year over the next 15 years—while nearly $50 million more than the ACC, a lot of this had to do with timing. The SEC pulled the trigger on their deal months before the stock market took a tumble late in 2008, and the ACC was relegated to what ESPN would offer after the SEC had already tied up much of ESPN's TV funds.
So when it boils down to it, when considering all that Florida State did to put the Atlantic Coast Conference on the map, from their reputation and national championships on the gridiron, to the conference expansion in the early 2000's bringing over in-state rival Miami, and transforming a young, seemingly academia conference into one of the nation's elite—there are still plenty of reasons for optimism within the ACC.
Never ruling out the possibility of expansion, the Atlantic Coast Conference is certainly still working out the bugs. This much is true.
While it may not be wise to suggest at this point that the ACC has the edge over the SEC as far as many teams might be concerned, Florida State has carved out a particularly legitimate home within the constructs of the Atlantic Coast Conference, that is fitting in many ways.
To that end, in a close decision, with a 2-1 majority vote, the Seminoles of Florida State should remain in the Atlantic Coast Conference, provided the SEC ever does come calling.
FSU stays in the ACC—Another Case Closed.