Savannah St visit rounds out FSU's 2012 schedule

BRENT KALLESTAD Associated Press Published:

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -- Florida State has replaced perennial college football power West Virginia on its 2012 schedule with little Savannah State.

The Seminoles will host The Tigers, from the Football Championship Subdivision, on Sept. 8 as a replacement opponent for the Mountaineers. West Virginia broke the front end of a home-and-home contract with the Seminoles to ostensibly accommodate their move from the Big East Conference to the Big 12.

Athletic Director Randy Spetman and his top associate, Monk Bonasorte, said Wednesday they have been scrambling for nearly three weeks trying to fill the scheduling hole created by West Virginia's decision earlier this month to back out of the highly anticipated early season contest.

Florida State receives a $500,000 buyout and may sue to recover approximately $2 million in revenue losses.

"We contacted every BCS school that had an opening in hopes to replace (West Virginia) with a BCS opponent," Spetman said. "None of those few schools could make it work either because of our dates or theirs."

Spetman said they talked with Arkansas, Cincinnati, Oklahoma, Pitt, Syracuse and Texas A&M among others.

"We've done everything we could to explore all the options for a home game," said coach Jimbo Fisher, who is 19-8 after his first two seasons at Florida State.

Spetman said Florida State plans to honor its end of the deal and play the scheduled 2013 game in Morgantown, W. Va.

Florida State rejected some overtures to turn a scheduled home date into a road game in consideration of local merchants. Lee Daniel, the executive director of Visit Tallahassee, said the economic impact of home football games range between $1 million and $10 million depending on the opponent and time of game.

Spetman said the university grossed roughly $2.5 million more from last year's home game against Oklahoma than it did from a game one week earlier against tiny Charleston Southern, a smaller-division school that finished its 2011 season 0-11.

A member of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, Savannah State finished 1-10 in the 2011 season and was outscored by an average of nearly 31 points in its losses. Florida A&M, which sits less than a mile away from the Florida State campus, routed Savannah State 47-7 last year in Savannah.

"Savannah State has got a great band," Spetman said, noting that the school would make Sept. 8 band day. Savannah State will receive $475,000 for its visit.

The Seminoles now have two smaller-division FCS schools on their seven-game home schedule. Murray (Ky.) State visits Sept. 1. The Racers from the Ohio Valley Conference finished 7-4 last season. Their other two nonconference games are Sept. 29 at South Florida and Nov. 24 at home against archrival Florida.

The Atlantic Coast Conference, which plans to go to nine conference games once Syracuse and Pitt become official members, is working on finalizing the full conference schedule shortly, league spokesman Mike Finn said Wednesday. Florida State's home games in the ACC this year feature Boston College, Clemson, Duke and Wake Forest.