Robert Craft

1 2 3 16

The Collective

By: Robert Craft news services

I’m fairly confident one of the four Power 5 programs in the state of Florida will make the Playoff in the next five years. What gives me that confidence?

Recent history of College Football Playoff rankings before bowl season. Florida State was 13th this past season. In 2020, Florida was seventh and Miami was 18th. In 2019, the Gators were ninth. In 2018, UCF was eighth and Florida was 10th.

In 2017, Miami was 10th. None of Florida’s schools has made a College Football Playoff since Florida State in 2014.

Had there been a 12-team playoff, there likely would’ve been representation on this side of the map. Looking at the now and near future, Florida State will make it first because the Seminoles are furthest along in their rebuild and are reaping results.

As for NIL collectives, it’s impossible to rank them. We don’t really have that financial data available to us. As of now, we must take these collectives at their word, followed by the actions of transfers and recruits.

Based on my experience talking to both college and high school players about the process, I think money plays only a slight factor if what is offered by the schools is relatively equal in value. So, they’ll make their choices based on playing time, history, NFL relationships, as well as day-to-day relationships with their position coaches and coordinators. NIL gets you in the game or knocks you out if it’s nonexistent.

How would I describe the actions of the NIL collectives? Are they helping win over recruits, simply doing their job, or are they failing to meet expectations?

All three characterized the collectives they covered as doing their jobs. Except for one player at UCF, none thought the programs lost players the coaching staff wanted to keep because they were necessarily outbid by other collectives.

In Miami’s case, I can certainly think of at least a couple of examples in which the program’s healthy NIL collective helped push UM toward the top of recruitment.

Does that make Miami the strongest NIL in the state? Maybe — based on its track record.

On the other hand, NIL is constantly evolving. Bankrollers come and go, and the truth is the in-state collectives are just really getting their act together since state laws changed in February.

Apart from what John Ruiz’s LifeWallet has done for UM, Miami’s Canes Connection Collective has announced dozens of signings throughout the spring. These are big wins off the field.

Florida’s Victorious Collective is putting the Jaden Rashada mess in the rearview mirror and providing the Gators real leadership and balance.

Florida State’s Battle’s End has been operating since December, and the Seminoles have kept top players Jared Verse and Jordan Travis happy.

UCF’s The Kingdom has raised several million and expects to be middle of the pack in the Big 12.

Again, it feels as though the collectives at the Power 4 in the Sunshine State are doing their jobs.

But until Florida, Miami, Florida State and UCF produce consistency that fans have grown accustomed to, programs will be frustrated.

NIL’s will help The Sunshine State’s schools keep top talent in the state. Keep the talent in the state and Playoffs will follow.

Pardon Our Progress

By: Robert Craft news services

Jacksonville mayor Lenny Curry said renovations to TIAA Bank Field could force the Jaguars to play in a different venue for up to two seasons. Here’s what you need to know:

Curry, speaking on 1010XL radio, said the renovations could halt games in the stadium from 2025-26. He said they are looking into local options for that timespan, similar to how the Los Angeles Chargers previously played at Dignity Health Sports Park while waiting for SoFi Stadium to be completed.

On the college side, Lenny Curry explained how TIAA Field’s improvements  will impact two seasons of the Florida-Georgia rivalry game- historically, hosted in Jacksonville (est 1933).

The only exceptions were in 1994 and 1995 when the games were played on campus while TIAA Bank Field was originally renovated prior to the Jaguars’ inaugural NFL season.

Curry suggested both teams could play one game apiece at home before returning to the city in 2027.

For our cats in Jax, Curry stated the goal is a venue in Jacksonville. Here’s the catch- there are zero venues as large as 27,000-seats. The Chargers played in a stadium this size following their move to Los Angeles. In Jacksonville’s case, The University of North Florida, which has no football sponsorship, has Hodges Stadium with only 9,400 seats.

While Jacksonville doesn’t have large stadiums with luxury boxes or modern amenities, there is an option 74 miles away: The 90,000-seat Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville.

The critical question is can the university logistically handle seven UF home games and the Jaguars’ pro schedule (minus London games).

If the Jaguars need to search for a home away from home for two seasons- they will survive. It isn’t the first time a team has faced such a problem in the league, and it won’t be the last. The NFL has rode this rodeo many times.

After the roof in the Metrodome partially caved in, the Minnesota Vikings played the 2014 and 2015 seasons at the University of Minnesota’s stadium, then named after TCF. The team moved into the new US Bank Stadium in 2016.

The LA Chargers, after relocating from San Diego, played for three seasons in a 27,000-seat soccer stadium before SoFi Stadium opened, while the LA Rams played four seasons at the dated LA Coliseum before the teams’ shared venue was ready.

These temporary options were imperfect venues for each team. Assuming the Jaguars need a place to play in 2025 and 2026, it almost assuredly will not be a perfect solution.

Fans and VIPs will be missing many of the modern accouterments they’ve  grown to expect.

There is another possibility. The team already contests one home game a season in London, so perhaps the league will increase Jacksonville games for these two transient years?

As for Georgia and Florida, they have an agreement to play games in Jacksonville through 2023 with a two-year option to extend the contract after that. Prior to the game this past season, the two schools released a joint statement on the future of the game in Jacksonville.

“The annual game between our two universities is an important tradition. Currently, both programs are focused on our current seasons.”

“Typically, both schools begin conversations regarding future games in the series as the last contracted game nears. We anticipate following that timeline. When those discussions take place, we will consider a multitude of factors including tradition, finances, future SEC scheduling models with the addition of Texas and Oklahoma, and what is best for both schools’ football programs overall.”

Georgia head coach Kirby Smart has called for a change to neutrality. His concern is the recruiting disadvantage that it puts the programs at playing the game at a neutral site.

Billy Napier has deflected questions about the future location until he has a chance to experience the game first hand.

I’ll throw out the possibility of a game in Tampa, Orlando, Atlanta, or Miami when Jacksonville is unavailable.

The idea of keeping the game at a neutral site makes some sense and cents, especially if one is in Florida and the other in Georgia.

New Falcons To Fly?

By: Robert Craft news services

The Atlanta Falcons added six players in the draft and felt that all six would improve their team in some way.

“From the first pick, No. 8 overall, to the eighth pick in the seventh round, the theme has been smart, tough, highly competitive players that fit what we’re about, fit our makeup,” general manager Terry Fontenot said. “Versatile, smart football players. Very excited about the outcome of this draft.”

Sure, if we had a “worst pick” category, the Robinson pick might fit there, because there are legitimate questions about the wisdom of taking a running back with a top-10 pick, but those arguments center on roster construction and salary-cap management.

On the field, no player in this draft could have added more spice to the Falcons roster than the former Texas running back.

The Falcons already had one of the NFL’s most potent rushing offenses. They led the league with 559 rushes and were third in the league in rushing EPA and rushing success rate.

Tyler Allgeier(4.9), last year’s fifth-round pick, and Cordarrelle Patterson(4.8) each ranked in the top 13 of the NFL in yards per carry and each had more than 690 yards on the ground.

Patterson, who is entering his 10th professional season, could see his role in the running game diminished because of Robinson’s addition, but Allgeier will not. The rotation remains strong it seems.

Matthew Bergeron (2nd round pick)will help solidify the offensive front if he can win a starting job, luckily the Falcons can adjust if he does not.

Robinson, meanwhile, will be a huge part of the rotation right away. He can affect every area of the offense.

The Falcons needed a left guard and drafted a player who has one practice day of experience at the position.

Bergeron played tackle throughout his career at Syracuse, and at 6-5, 318 pounds, he’s not built like a guard. But the team believes he has the strength and, just as importantly, the intelligence, to play inside on the line of scrimmage.

The Falcons drafted like a team that believes it’s going to be pretty darn good in 2023. Their offseason spending spree included $179.8 million of guaranteed money.

By the time the draft rolled around, a team that went 7-10 in 2022 had filled most of its roster holes, leaving it with flexibility in the draft.

The selection of Robinson could take a potent offense to another level as long as Ridder can run the show efficiently.

Defensively, the Falcons clearly felt good about their free-agency moves because they talked about third-round edge selection Zach Harrison like a developmental prospect who they don’t expect much from in 2023.

Atlanta needed to add a cornerback at some point during the draft and they left with All-American Clark Phillips III in the fourth round.

They then added two players in the 7th round  (Alabama safety DeMarcco Hellams and offensive guard Jovaughn Gwyn). Both players will be in a tough battle to make the roster.

For Atlanta, everything will come down to Ridder. The last two months have taken the Falcons’ roster from one of the thinnest in the league to one with realistic playoff goals.

If the quarterback can handle the job, they will be in the division race throughout the season.

There were mixed emotions from some football fans, the home-town Atlanta Falcons had a chance to take UGA star defensive lineman Jalen Carter with the No. 8 pick. Instead, they chose Texas running back Bijan Robinson. How will history remember the pick?

Will the Falcons look foolish in three years for taking a running back in the top 10? In the new era of pro football, in which teams do not pay running backs.

Roll The Dice

By: Robert Craft news services

It’s easy to talk a General Manager into drafting Anthony Richardson, easy to see that size, speed, strength and weigh the undeniable singularity of his physical abilities and not get intoxicated at what could be.

It’s easy to turn on tape and convince yourself that with the right coaching and the right system, there’s no way this man — this freakish talent who’s all of 20 years old — won’t grow into a weapon that’ll scare the living hell out of NFL defensive coordinators for an awfully long time.

In Richardson’s case, he has about everything: He can make every throw. He can run through an entire defense. There are no limitations on where he can put the football, or what he can do when he tucks it away and scampers from the pocket.

Richardson’s far from a polished prospect, arriving on the doorstep of this spring’s draft with serious questions about whether he can win at the pro level from the pocket (a must in today’s league).

Remember, the Combine isn’t real football. The pro day, either. They are scripted, controlled, routes-on-air. It happens almost every spring, a quarterback catapulting up the draft boards largely because of what could be, not necessarily because of their previous fall.

Potential can be expensive, even if it doesn’t work out.

Who has been more physically gifted than him? Andrew Luck? Richardson has a more gifted arm and is much faster. Cam Newton is taller, but Anthony is much faster and with a more dynamic arm. Josh Allen is bigger, but their arms are similar, and Josh is not even close to as fast.

Physically, Richardson has the traits of becoming a game-changing weapon, a player who defenses fear, a quarterback who can lift a mediocre supporting cast and give you a chance every Sunday.

His passing numbers weren’t tremendous for a first-round quarterback prospect: 17 touchdowns, nine interceptions, a worrisome 53.8 completion percentage (he did add nine rushing touchdowns).

But he cut his turnovers down over the second half of the season — his TD-to-interception ratio was 12-to-2 over his final six starts. That shows he grew increasingly comfortable in the pocket and his decision-making reflected that.

Richardson’s receivers dropped a large number of catchable balls. If you really dig into the film, Richardson has more downfield accuracy than what’s assumed.

He certainly must tighten up his mechanics, his footwork, and his presence in the pocket, but it’s not as if there aren’t plenty of encouraging signs he can get better from behind center.

And again, Richardson’s only 20 years old. This is important. He has so much growth ahead of him. One can only wonder what he would’ve done with another year at Florida, how many of the draft concerns he could have eased.

It’s officially draft week, and the Colts — picking fourth — need a quarterback. Most of the speculation has come down to two passers: Florida’s Richardson and Kentucky’s Will Levis.

But a recent curveball is gaining steam: what if Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud makes it past the Texans at No. 2? It would change the discussion, widening the Colts’ debate from two QBs to three.

Elite quarterbacks dominate the NFL and will for the foreseeable future. Mahomes. Allen. Burrow, Herbert, Hurts. Jackson.

Mediocre isn’t going to cut it. Teams need a playmaker if they want a winning chance, and it’s time to gamble.

Bet on your coach and see if you can climb back into the mix. It’ll take time to mature, but it’s a High Risk-High Reward wager. High rollers welcome!

Beck-oned Starter

By: Robert Craft news services

Brock Vandagriff and Gunner Stockton are very much in the competition for QB1.

We hear that Vandagriff’s performance on G-Day was hurt by a few dropped balls. What fans saw, however, was clear.

Carson Beck is Georgia’s starting quarterback this upcoming season!

That does not mean Beck will finish the season there. Nor does it mean Beck has the clutch gene (a la Stetson Bennett) and will be the one to lead Georgia to a third consecutive national championship.

There are necessary caveats. Beck benefited from playing with the first-team offense, which meant he had top skill-position receivers on the offensive line.

What I saw was Beck getting the first five of those drives, producing 24 points while he threw for 211 yards.

Vandagriff went in during the second half, and started off throwing an interception, then leading two more zero-point drives.

Vandagriff seemed a bit tentative on decision-making, which you can afford when you can run.

A strong QB knows that often it is best to get the ball out. Vandagriff’s running ability is alluring; it’s tempting to give him the benefit of the doubt, roll him out there and watch the fun.

At this point, however, Vandagriff’s upside seems outweighed by Beck’s skill set. The downfield throwing ability, his arm, the decision-making; it all looks like it’s there for Beck, and Vandagriff appears more as a high risk-high reward stock option.

If there is legitimate concern about Beck, it’s whether he has matured enough from his first two seasons, when by his own admission he needed to mature.

On the field, he didn’t know the system well enough and did not work hard enough to know it. Off the field, he missed a few too many classes or study halls.

Saturday’s game was also an example of how Beck has matured as a quarterback. He wasn’t out there showing off his arm. He was excelling in touch and timing passes. He was calm and confident in the pocket.

That does not mean Beck will prove the right choice in games to come. The flaws that were there a few years ago might not have gone away.

At some point, coaches must go with what you see. None of the three quarterbacks has proved themselves in a real game. Often coaches don’t know what they have until the games begin.

Georgia does have three good options. This is not 2015 when the team finished spring not sure the right guy was on campus and went out and imported its eventual starter.

This year is a classic, pre-portal-era quarterback situation where three veterans who waited their turn and developed are being considered.

Georgia, of all the luxuries it has these days, enjoys being able to pick a quarterback who has waited and developed.

And after the Spring Game, it seems pretty clear which one has developed the most.

Death Sting

By: Robert Craft news services

It is too early in the season to think Tampa Bay Rays cheat-coding this month is sustainable in the long run, but it’s still fun to have this many surprises in one baseball season. Good teams are bad, bad teams are good.

Quick — which team has the top OPS in baseball? That would be the Rays (.967). An undefeated start has been one of the best early storylines in today’s baseball.

In typical Rays fashion, they’re doing it up and down the lineup, with not a single player in the top 10 in individual OPS as of Sunday afternoon (Wander Franco, through nine games, was 11th with 1.157).

The Rays’ early strength of schedule, which has included the Tigers, Nationals and A’s, a trio of teams not expected to contend. Still, Tampa Bay hasn’t just beaten inferior opponents, they’ve pummeled them.

The Rays have won most games by four or more runs and have outscored opponents massively. Their run differential is the largest in the modern era to start a season.

The Rays lead the majors in home runs and runs scored and rank second with a .289 batting average.

Earlier this year, an article ranked the top 10 rotations in baseball. Tampa Bay wasn’t even in the top five. This lineup may have been overlooked by baseball pundits (the Rays are used to it).

Consider this a gross oversight; one that didn’t escape people in the organization. Tampa Bay has put together a starting pitching group that has the potential to be historically good. Heading into Sunday’s games, Rays starters ranked second in ERA, fourth in walks and fifth in strikeouts.

The inferior competition is a major reason the Rays lead the majors with a rotation ERA under 2.00. The Rays believe their pitchers’ execution has been almost flawless. That is true not just of their starters but also their relievers, who rank third in the majors in opponents’ OPS.

They trailed only the Dodgers in pitches per inning at 14.31, and still figure to get better with starter Tyler Glasnow (oblique) expected to return in mid-May.

Glasnow could give the Rays a third top-of-the-rotation arm along with Shane McClanahan and Jeff Springs.

On the other hand, Drew Rasmussen held the A’s to one hit and struck out eight over seven innings Sunday, also Zach Eflin has been terrific on the mound, making two great additions.

The only area of the team that hasn’t been seriously tested is the bullpen. That’s the way it goes when you’ve been tied or had the lead in 93.9 percent of the innings you’ve played.

The Rays are the only unbeaten team in the majors; they’re also the only team without a save.

Their undefeated mark is the best start in the wild-card era. The 1982 Braves and the 1987 Brewers both won 13 straight to start a season.

The 1916 New York Giants won 26 in a row, which is the MLB record for longest winning streak.

Complicated Hero

By: Robert Craft news services

Stetson Bennett; the great story, has turned into something more complicated.

For so long he was the folk hero, the former walk-on proving everyone wrong, winning one and then two national championships.

All along there was an edge to him, but it manifested itself in endearing ways, especially to Georgia fans.

mic drop after throwing a touchdown, the telephone signal to taunt Tennessee fans who had lit up his cell phone. And the general competitive spirit that won over the Georgia coaches who kept trying to find another quarterback.

But since winning the second national championship, Bennett’s edges have come out in other ways.

Blowing off the morning-after news conference, being accused of not being warm enough with fans at the championship celebration, a slightly off-key speech at the celebration, then an arrest on a public intoxication charge.

By themselves, none of these put Bennett in red flag territory, but together- they’ve added up to an interesting narrative heading into the draft.

Bennett responded by retreating from public view, dodging interviews and press opportunities all together. He emerged and had a good showing at the NFL combine, as well as a pro day performance that reinforced Bennet’s  arm strength, athleticism and accuracy.

Thus, the narrative has flipped: The physical attributes are there, the intangibles are now in question.

This drama-turned-screenplay is still being written. Will the next Act be in the NFL?

Admittedly, that’s a stretch. The idea of Bennett achieving a long NFL career is about as likely as … Well, feel free to ask a new employee of the Baltimore Ravens about doubting the kid from Blackshear, Ga.

Maybe it’s about being the best football player, but plenty else goes into the NFL Draft.

That’s why Bennett has to confront off-field questions. He said there have been “a lot of different questions,” not specifying which ones, but outlining his approach: being honest, and upfront, (NFL teams already know the answers to their questions). They want to see how Bennett, and any prospect in that matter, answers.

There’s a tired routine that’s played in the run-up to the draft: prospects being asked who they’ve met with. Bennett wasn’t asked that, pointing out that those meetings and media coverage is all a game.

Sometimes teams meet multiple times with prospects they have no intention of drafting, creating a smokescreen, then never meet a prospect they do draft until they’re drafted.

So Bennett takes the meetings, but doesn’t read into which team is talking to him, which team has concerns about his intangibles, and which team wants to pick the former walk-on turned folk hero turned complicated NFL prospect.

So, where will Bennett get selected on draft day? His résumé is impressive. He’s a back-to-back national champion. He is the first quarterback in Georgia history to achieve that accomplishment. It was a storybook college career for Bennett, as he grew up a die-hard Georgia fan. But the story may not have a happy ending if the goal is hearing his name early on draft night.

Ranked  10th at quarterback on my draft board, the 25-year-old is the same age or older than several NFL quarterbacks who have been in the league for a few years.

To put it in perspective, Bennett is older than the 24-year-old Jalen Hurts, who just led the Philadelphia Eagles to the Super Bowl … in his third NFL season.

That said, I believe Bennett will hear his name called before the NFL draft has concluded. He comes from a winning culture, and NFL teams love to be surrounded by winning.

From all accounts, Bennett would make a great addition to a locker room. On top of that, we know he is not afraid of the big moments should he ever be called upon.

Who knows, maybe Bennett’s legend will continue to grow, and he pulls off the unexpected. It wouldn’t be the first time.

On The Clock

By: Robert Craft news services

The Atlanta Falcons have the eighth pick in the NFL Draft. Round 1 begins on April 27 in Kansas City. The Falcons own eight total picks in the draft.

Arthur Smith and Terry Fontenot had some roster rebuilding to do in their first two seasons, starting with shedding expensive salaries.

Weathering that stretch came with back-to-back 7-10 seasons, but they had money to spend this offseason for the first time.

They first used it on safety Jessie Bates III, defensive tackle David Onyemata, linebacker Kaden Elliss, cornerback Mike Hughes, wide receiver Mack Hollins and quarterback Taylor Heinicke; then, they traded for former Titans and Patriots tight end Jonnu Smith.

Casey Hayward will be entering his 12th season this year, and he’s coming off a torn pectoral muscle. The Falcons need an heir similar to Hayward, who they can pair with A.J. Terrell into the future.

Bates addresses the immediate need in the starting lineup, and 2021 second-round pick Richie Grant will man the other spot, but the Falcons need depth and could use special teams bodies as well.

Hollins’ signing takes care of the No. 2 receiver position, but the modern NFL rewards teams who have a lot of targets. Atlanta needs at least one more wide receiver.

The one position everyone was sure the Falcons would address in free agency was edge rusher. The Falcons were 31st in the NFL last season in pressure rate (25.8 percent), which was an improvement over dead last in 2021 (24.1 percent).

Atlanta’s 39 sacks over the last two seasons rank last in the NFL by a wide margin. The 31st-place Raiders have had 62 in that span. Sixteen teams have at least doubled the Falcons’ total.

None of that changes the fact that the Falcons need a pass rusher, and at this point it’s going to have to come with the No. 8 pick in the draft.

So here I go with three pass rushers who the Falcons should be looking at in Rounds 1.

Tyree Wilson, edge, Texas Tech: It feels like Wilson moves up one spot in all the mock drafts every week, and he might not be available at No. 8.

The Falcons might be able to get the No. 6 pick from Detroit by swapping this year’s Nos. 8 and 75 for it.

That would be contingent on two things, the Lions not loving Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson and the Falcons really loving Wilson.

There’s a lot to love about the 6-foot-6, 271-pounder, who has an 86-inch wingspan. He will make an immediate impact as a pass rusher, but Wilson needs to be a better run defender (the lesser of Atlanta’s concerns).

Myles Murphy, edge, Clemson: If Wilson is off the board, then Murphy is the next best thing. At the moment, Murphy is mid- to low-first round in most mock drafts, but that could change on April 4, when he holds a private workout.

A tweaked hamstring kept him from doing much of anything at the combine or at Clemson’s pro day. A lot of people will be comparing the numbers from Murphy’s workout against the numbers Wilson puts up at the Red Raiders’ pro day Wednesday. Murphy has pedigree (five-star high school prospect) and production (more than 10 tackles for loss each season).

Nolan Smith, Edge, Georgia: Atlanta will be tempted to end the consecutive Georgia guys in the first round to 4, but four consecutive Bulldogs on defense, they might be tempted to extend it.

That’s never a bad strategy when drafting a Georgia defensive player. Smith has the sixth-best relative athletic score (RAS) among defensive ends in this year’s class and ran a blazing 4.39-second 40-yard dash at the combine. Four. Point. Three. Nine. Seconds.

With the 8th pick in the NFL Draft the Atlanta Falcons select….

Falling Apart?

By: Robert Craft news services

Many talent evaluators around the NFL believe Jalen Carter is the best player available in the NFL draft.

Whether he goes first or fifth or somewhere significantly south in the draft depends in large part on whether: 1) He has a significant turnaround from his current physical and mental state , or 2) a team locks onto his raw talent only.

The best version of Jalen Carter was not on display at Georgia’s Pro Day. NFL personnel officials, coaches and media members in attendance saw an overweight Carter huffing and puffing through drills that were set up for defensive linemen. He did not participate in any other skills tests, nor the 40-yard dash.

Carter weighed 323 pounds, that’s 13 pounds heavier than he was listed at during Georgia’s season. It’s also nine pounds heavier than the 314 he weighed at the scouting combine two weeks ago. It was clearly not nine pounds of muscle. He looked flabby. He looked like a risk for any team that decides to hand him a $20 million-plus signing bonus.

After arriving in Indianapolis to undergo physical exams and meet with teams (Carter had already opted out of workouts), the arrest warrant was issued in Athens-Clarke County, Georgia. Carter left Indianapolis, turned himself in and was booked and released within hours. Then he returned to the combine and resumed interviews with teams.

No, Carter shouldn’t get brownie points for having to leave the combine in the first place. Yet, he returned when others might have stayed away. Which is an additional point for teams to consider in assessing one of the most intriguing prospects in the draft.

Carter is the most dominant defensive lineman in this draft, who had a viral moment in the SEC Championship Game when he lifted LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels with one arm while throwing up the No. 1 sign with his other hand.

Putting aside Carter’s two misdemeanors, the main questions about Carter that have been out there among pro scouts since during the season related to his consistency and work ethic.

Carter’s Pro Day was not a good look. There already were lingering questions about where Carter might be psychologically after the accident, and how he had handled himself in the suddenly negative spotlight.

All 32 NFL teams attended the Georgia pro day, including Falcons Head Coach Arthur Smith, Bears Head Coach Matt Eberflus and General Manager Ryan Poles and Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin and GM Omar Khan.

Carter helped lead the Bulldogs to back-to-back national championships and played at a dominant level despite dealing with knee and ankle injuries.

He has a month before the draft to get into shape and ease concerns. He has a month to realize he is in the midst of a job interview.

Greener Grass

By: Robert Craft news services

In a talk that generated headlines across the ACC, Florida State Seminole athletic director Michael Alford pointed out the difference in projected conference revenue between the ACC, the Big Ten, and SEC once their new media rights deals begin.

It’s true, FSU does not have a viable escape route anytime soon. In the Texas/OU and USC/UCLA cases, the schools waited to leave until their leagues’ Grant of Rights were up. (Two Big 12 schools have since negotiated an early exit.)

The ACC’s deal goes another 13 years. In that board meeting, FSU’s general counsel threw out $120 million as a cost to leave the ACC, but as best I can tell, that’s just the league’s exit fee.

The cost to buy back more than a decade’s worth of your own TV rights from the conference would be exponentially more.

It’s been suggested that FSU and Clemson (or others) could challenge the Grant of Rights in court, but contracts that deal with millions of dollars tend to be pretty ironclad. If they weren’t, someone would have challenged one already.

FSU, as well as Clemson, are posturing for unequal revenue sharing, under the premise they bring more value than the other 12 schools, the implicit threat is lingering: if you don’t pay us, we’ll leave eventually.

This story is similar to USC’s decade of largely behind-the-scenes grumbling, but this time the other schools have no short-term incentive to agree to it. The best case the pair could make might be,

“We’re your conference’s best hope of winning a national championship in football. The 12-team Playoff Model is expected to be more performance-based than presently, if a big money team like Clemson or FSU wins three games in the playoffs en route to the 2026 national title, everyone reaps benefits.”

I don’t think anyone wants to take in less money than they are currently making. The question is one of leverage. Do Florida State, Clemson and others have actual leverage in today’s negotiations?

They’re locked into a deal with the ACC through 2036 that could cost more than $300 million to break between just exit fees and the grant of rights.

If those schools do not have offers in hand to join the Big Ten or the SEC, can they really force the rest of the conference to acquiesce on this?

For what it’s worth, I’m not sure shuffling around a few million dollars per year actually closes the revenue gaps Alford was talking about with his board.

If FSU gets, say, $5 million more per year than it does now, does that actually close the gap it’s staring down with powerhouses like Georgia? Or is this more of a philosophical conversation?

The ACC should be thinking externally, not internally, and figuring a way to generate more revenue, because soon their schools are going to be sharing it with their athletes

I see the anxiety and hear the chatter from FSU fans every day. Everyone’s worried about revenue, stratification and falling behind. So it may help fans to hear your leaders fighting for more. But I’m also not sure there’s going to be enough of a force to force real change.

My two cents: Though I do recommend making some effort to keep your marquee programs happy, FSU does not have much leverage here. You’re talking about a “threat” that might not come to fruition for more than a decade, by which point the sport’s traditional conference model could be abandoned entirely.

Who knows what will happen in 13 years’ time, programs can only plan for the near future.

1 2 3 16