- David M. Hale, ESPN Staff Writer
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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.
Jimbo Fisher has discussed the importance of maintaining seven home dates on the schedule -- both from a competitive and economic viewpoint -- but with the ACC slate set to expand to nine conference games along with the Seminoles' annual rivalry game against SEC foe Florida, that would be impossible.
"If it's a home-and-home, you're only going to have six (home) games, and that could be an issue," Fisher said. "When it's home, it's wonderful. It's a great opponent with great tradition."
But on the return trip to Notre Dame, Spetman said Florida State will need to make adjustments financially.
"On that year, we would have to plan the year out in advance for that possibility," Spetman said.
The revenue lost by having just six home dates would be partially offset under the new agreement with Notre Dame, however.
Spetman said Florida State will save money by not having to pay another non-conference team to play in Doak Campbell Stadium -- a savings of about $500,000 had it occurred this year. He also expects the new agreement with Notre Dame to generate an extra $1 to $1.5 million for the conference, which would be distributed among the member institutions.
"Over the course of time, that would offset that one year we would lose when we'd go six (home) and six (away games)," Spetman said.
There could be additional secondary benefits that come with the increased national branding, Spetman argued, particularly with television revenue. On the recruiting trail, however, Fisher was dubious that games against Notre Dame would add any marquee value.
"We weren't playing them before and we were recruiting very well," Fisher said, "so I don't think it will affect recruiting for us in any way, shape or form."
The long-term solution, of course, would be for Notre Dame to join the ACC in football as a full member. For now, however, Notre Dame continues to remain independent, which athletics director Jack Swarbrick said was an essential element of this new agreement.
"We have monitored the changing conference landscape for many months and have concluded that moving to the ACC is the best course of action for us," Swarbrick said in a release by the ACC. "We are able to maintain our historic independence in football, join in the ACC's non-BCS bowl package, and provide a new and extremely competitive home for our other sports."
The new agreement between Notre Dame and the ACC, however, adds some intrigue to that discussion.
Spetman pointed out that, should Notre Dame decide to affiliate with any conference during the lifetime of the current TV deal, it must be the ACC.
It's a win-win deal, Spetman argued, but it's also partially about avoiding further losses down the road.
While the ACC has long held that it would not be interested in Notre Dame as a partial member, Spetman said the danger of failing to compromise was too great.
"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. "This is a viable way for the conference to move forward and encourage Notre Dame possibly one day to join us."
4dDavid M. Hale
4dDavid M. Hale