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FSU-Duke is canceled – what’s next in December?

Florida State will not play Duke on Saturday, making it three straight weeks that the Seminoles will not play.

But if 2020 has taught us anything, hold on tight. There are still options for FSU to play on Dec. 12 and Dec. 19.

As if the last nine months haven’t been fun enough, and by fun often we are stretching the interpretation of fun to never-before-seen sarcasm levels, the calendar will soon turn to December and deliver more uncertainty.

The ACC delayed announcing its game schedule for Dec. 5 and opted to play matchmaker, pairing up Duke and Miami.

There are many questions for the days and weeks ahead. We’ll try to sort out what we know and what could happen.

Why didn’t FSU play at Duke?

We asked this question earlier on Sunday evening — will FSU play at Duke — and the ACC gave us official clarity at 9:45 p.m. on Sunday. So we’re now changing the response just a little.

The game was canceled as an undefined number of FSU players are in isolation as part of contact tracing. FSU was down to 44 available scholarship players and barely had the seven available offensive linemen for the Virginia game. FSU-Duke was postponed early in the week so that Duke could play another team. (With the Miami-Wake game already postponed, it was an easy call.) Notre Dame (8-0), Clemson (7-1) and Miami (6-1) are the clear-cut top three ACC teams with UNC (6-3) and NC State (6-3) behind. Simply put: The ACC couldn’t afford for Miami to be off on Saturday and in fairness needs to give the Hurricanes a chance to reach the ACC championship game. 

Should (or can) FSU play another game?

If football can be played safely, FSU will play. The available windows now are Dec. 12 and Dec. 19, although it’s plausible games could be played on Thursday nights, Friday nights or other windows. Those nights aren’t nearly as attractive for FSU fans coming from across the state or Southeast, so Saturdays make the most sense. The Seminoles could play one or two games before the window will close on the 19th for the ACC to play regular-season games.

There is also the complication of FHSAA football championship games at Doak Campbell Stadium on Dec. 16-19. So that could mean FSU would be forced to hit the road on Dec. 19, ask the FHSAA to give up Doak on the 19th or see if a game could be played in Jacksonville, Orlando or another neutral-site option. All options are on the table in 2020. Remember our motto from the spring: Be willing to adapt.

Who could FSU play?

It’s plausible FSU could play Clemson on Dec. 12 and Duke on Dec. 19. Virginia-Va. Tech is slated for Dec. 12, so an FSU-Virginia game could take place on the 19th. Wake Forest (4-3) has played just seven games, while FSU, Miami, Virginia and Georgia Tech have only played eight games. Each of these schools will be looking to play games to appease their players and coaches but also pay the bills. FSU has already played Miami and Georgia Tech, so don’t expect a repeat.

Why should FSU play again?

If FSU can safely play, it’s what players and coaches would want. A group of seniors have earned a final home game because of their hard work.

The ACC intended for teams to play 11 games, including 10 within the conference. And the ACC schools are paid based on how many games, or how much inventory it provides to ABC/ESPN as part of its TV deal. Each game played helps the bottom line, meaning even a relatively meaningless Wake-Virginia game contributes to the bottom line for FSU and the other schools.

Remember that just over a week ago, FSU athletics director David Coburn said the department remains in the red despite asking coaches to take pay cuts and trimming the budget. North Carolina released in a statement that it is facing a $30 million deficit, while Clemson plans to cut men’s track and field.

As Osceola publisher Jerry Kutz pointed out on the message board this weekend: “It’s about $2 million per game but more importantly it’s about FSU employees and student athletes in several sports whose careers hang in the balance. Coburn, who cut the budget drastically this summer in anticipation of lost ticket revenue, has already said his projections were not conservative enough. The expenses were more, the revenues were less than planned. Now he faces the probability of more losses if these games cannot be played.”

Every dollar brought in is less that a coach or employee will be forced to give up as part of a furlough. And every game played could help prevent more sports from seeing their budgets dramatically cut.

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