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Chuck Landon: WVU's buyout of Fla. State a no-brainer

Feb. 06, 2012 @ 11:46 PM

Anybody surprised that WVU canceled its upcoming football series with Florida State instead of buying out a game against Marshall?

Not me.

It's a no-brainer.

Except from a strictly financial stand-point, that is. Fiscally, it makes more sense to buyout the 2012 season-opener against Marshall scheduled for Sept. 1 in Morgantown.

After all, buying out the final game of the controversial Marshall-WVU series is a mere $150,000. That's chump change in the world of major college football.

But Florida State?

The Mountaineers had to ante up $500,000 to cancel the game scheduled on Sept. 8 in Tallahassee, Fla. And, remember, it was a two-game series with the Seminoles scheduled to play in Morgantown in 2013.

WVU canceling this series puts a rather bizarre conclusion to the litigation the Mountaineers and a few other Big East Conference schools pursued against the Atlantic Coast Conference for pilfering Virginia Tech, Miami and Boston College. This very Florida State series was actually part of the ACC's reparations for that lawsuit.

So, WVU choosing to cancel the two-game series is rather ironic.

Yet, it's also very smart.

Put yourself in WVU head football coach Dana Holgorsen's shoes. If his Mountaineers are indeed members of the Big 12 for the 2012 football season, one of WVU's four nonconference games has to be dropped. That's because there would be nine conference games in the Big 12.

The choice is between Marshall at home, at Florida State, Maryland at home and James Madison in Washington, D.C. Since Maryland is an ongoing series and James Madison is a special event game with a $1 million buyout, it came down to either Marshall or Florida State.

Again, it was a no-brainer. And, again, put yourself in Holgorsen's shoes.

Considering he already faces the prospect of having to compete against such perennial Top 25 opponents as Texas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Baylor, TCU and Kansas State in Big 12 games, why would Holgorsen want to add to the degree of difficulty by also playing Florida State?

Let's see.

Open the season vs. Marshall at home or play a probable top 10-ranked Florida State on the road?

That's an easy choice even if it does cost an extra $350,000.

It might be a little more expensive than that, however, judging by comments from Florida State athletic director Randy Spetman. He recently told the Orlando Sentinel newspaper that Florida State may be forced to sue WVU if it isn't able to schedule a replacement opponent that would fill Florida State's financial needs.

Spetman speculated, according to the newspaper, that total liquidated damages -- lost ticket sales, potential travel costs for the new incoming opponent, possible changes in television money -- could run in the millions.

"We have the buyout, there's that, and then there will be whatever liquidated damages," Spetman told the Orlando Sentinel. "If we aren't able to find another team, that's what we're going to have to look at.

"You're talking about a lot of money."

Spetman was expecting WVU-Florida State to be a prime-time matchup on network television between two preseason top-10 teams. Instead, it might be WVU vs. Florida State in court.

Uh, oh, more litigation.

That's just what WVU needs.

Pretty soon WVU's legal bills are going to be more than Marshall's athletic budget.

Chuck Landon is a columnist for The Herald-Dispatch. Call him at 304-526-2827 or email him at clandon@herald-dispatch.com.

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