Florida State Seminoles: Notre Dame

The Big Board: The value of Notre Dame

September, 13, 2012
9/13/12
3:06
PM ET
The easiest way for Florida State athletics director Randy Spetman to capture the importance of the ACC's new agreement with Notre Dame was to offer an alternative.

"If you woke up this morning and read that Notre Dame had gone to the Big 12 or the Big Ten, what would you think of the ACC today?" Spetman said.

From the national branding to the name recognition to the rich history and Hollywood lore, Notre Dame brings a level of cache that the ACC didn't want to lose.

But amid all the buzz that followed the announcement that the Irish would join the ACC in all sports except football -- where they'll play five games per year -- what was largely ignored was that Notre Dame simply hasn't been a very good football program in the past two decades.

For Florida State fans, the two programs will be forever intertwined thanks to the "Game of the Century" in 1993. Notre Dame prevailed, but was felled a week later by Boston College, and in the end, it was Florida State that hoisted the national championship trophy.

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- The picture painted by Florida State athletics director Randy Spetman on Wednesday was vivid -- a sold-out stadium, national attention, leverage in TV deals and conference security for years to come.

The reality of Notre Dame's arrival into the Atlantic Coast Conference -- partially in football, completely in all other sports -- is a bit more complex. But the end results will be worth it, Spetman said.

"When we have them here, it'll be a guaranteed sell-out game for us," Spetman said. "There are so many positives with this program on how we can go forward and the national branding that it brings to our university."

More significantly perhaps, Notre Dame's partnership brings some stability to the ACC, which endured months of rumors that big-name programs, including Florida State, could bolt for more lucrative TV deals with the SEC or Big 12.

The odds of that happening diminished markedly Wednesday, as the conference also announced the exit fee for a school hoping to leave the conference would increase to three times the annual operating budget, or upwards of $50 million.

Spetman declined to confirm whether Florida State was in favor of raising the exit fee, but he said strengthening the makeup of the conference was essential.

"What they are doing, which I think is great for our conference, is to secure the stability of the conference," Spetman said. "It's going to cement the conference together for the long term and be security for each one of us."

While conference stability is enhanced under the new agreement, scheduling becomes far more problematic.

Spetman said it has yet to be determined when the Irish would make their first trip to Tallahassee, but the most likely scenario for scheduling would include a home-and-home series being played between Notre Dame and each ACC member every six years.

That's a potential boon for FSU when Notre Dame makes its trip to Tallahassee, but the road date becomes tricky.

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ESPN college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit became the latest pundit to jump on the Florida State bandwagon Tuesday, when he picked the Seminoles to win the national championship. It's a prediction shared by writer Phil Steele, who chose FSU to win it all earlier this summer.

That's a bit more enthusiasm than the voting populace has displayed, but Florida State nevertheless will open the season ranked seventh in both the AP and Coaches' polls, and coach Jimbo Fisher isn't doing anything to temper the enthusiasm.

"I love being up there," Fisher said. "The higher up you start, the less you have to climb."

But while Fisher's point might have merit, FSU's problems during the past decade have had little to do with where the Seminoles have started the season and much more to do with where they've ended it.

FSU hasn't finished the year ranked in the AP top 10 since the end of the 2000 season, twice finishing unranked. The ugly finishes have never seemed to dampen hope among AP voters, who have continued to assume things would turn around virtually every summer.

Since 2000, Florida State's average preseason ranking is 12th, but it's only finished a season that high once.

In just three of the past 11 seasons has FSU wrapped up the year ranked higher than where it began, including 2008 when the Seminoles opened the season unranked but finished 21st.

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