Florida State president Richard McCullough. Keynote speaker Richard McCullough, FSU president, addresses attendees during the Tallahassee Chamber conference on Saturday, Aug. 20, 2022 at the Ritz Carlton at Amelia Island.

College conference realignment is creating a lot of chatter this summer, from USC and UCLA joining the Big Ten to Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren‘s remarks on further expansion to what might be ahead for the Big 12 and the Pac-12. Things have been perhaps a little quieter with the ACC and the SEC, but that changed this weekend following Florida State president Richard McCullough’s unusually candid remarks about their interest in realignment (presumably potentially leaving the ACC for either the SEC or the Big Ten) at a Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce conference:

McCullough (seen above ahead of that speech) kicked off a lot of buzz with that “very aggressive” comment in particular, with a lot of Florida State fans liking the idea:


Some others found it notable that a school president would be this candid:

Others noted that this might set up interesting challenges over potential penalties for violating the Seminoles’ grant-of-rights, as they’ve granted their rights to the ACC through 2036:

With that, it’s worth remembering that Florida State was one of the biggest holdouts on the original ACC grant-of-rights (in 2013, through 2027, later extended to 2036 in 2016 around the ACC Network deal with ESPN). In 2013, Doug Blackburn and Ira Schoffel of the Tallahassee Democrat broke down how then-ACC commissioner John Swofford and conference media consultant Dean Jordan twice came to Tallahassee to convince FSU trustees and then-president Eric Barron the ACC was the right conference for the Seminoles. Here are some highlights from that piece:

“The trustees were hearing a lot of stories that this school might bolt or that school might,” said Allan Bense, chairman of the FSU board. “I thought the commissioner provided us with a lot of good, useful information.”

Andy Haggard, a Miami attorney and former board chair who a year earlier fueled speculation that FSU might be eager to explore offers from other conferences, came away from the meeting with Swofford and Jordan feeling much better.

“It all came down to what was best for Florida State. I wanted to make sure he (Swofford) was investigating the possibility of getting the best deal he could with ESPN,” Haggard said.

…”We’re all concerned about being able to compete with the other conferences from a revenue standpoint,” said Andy Miller, president and CEO of Seminole Boosters. “He (Swofford) assured the board that the moves they’ve been making have put us in a competitive range of other conferences.”

Recent media deals for other conferences have shown the ACC far outside that “competitive range,” though, and with their rights locked up through 2036, that’s not going to change any time soon. So that has many lobbying for a move to either the SEC or the Big Ten. We’ll see if that happens.

[Awful Announcing; photo from Chasity Maynard/The Tallahassee Democrat, via USA Today Sports]

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.