TV, or not TV, that was the question.
Would Virginia move next Saturday's game against Florida State, scheduled at night, to 3:40 p.m. so it could be televised by ABC Sports as part of the College Football Association regional schedule?The answer has produced furor at FSU, front-page headlines in major Florida newspapers, backlash at ABC and has raised eyebrows from the CFA.
UVa, citing its long-scheduled Parents' Weekend activities on campus, turned down ABC's request, costing the ACC an $800,000 rights-fee check.
The decision wasn't stunning to those familiar with Virginia's stance on the special weekend since long before the FSU game was scheduled.
It also was the correct decision, and it sends a message that in at least one corner of the world, some things are bigger than big-time college athletics.
``Virginia made it very clear way back in the summer to the conference that it couldn't move the game on that particular weekend,' said ACC assistant commissioner Tom Mickle. ``It expressed that about a month ago to ABC, the week before ABC televised the Clemson-Virginia game.'
Mickle said the ACC didn't try to influence UVa's decision. ``It's not our call. It's up to the host school,' Mickle said.
The reason for UVa turning down ABC's request? It's academic. Parents' Weekend includes open houses for academic departments, so students' parents can meet professors and deans. Receptions are scheduled, times are reserved, plans are made by out-of-towners traveling long distances.
Originally, Virginia was scheduled to play VMI on Oct. 31. When Florida State joined the ACC and the league wanted the Seminoles incorporated into schedules for 1992, the Cavaliers dropped the Keydets.
Considering the preseason prospects for UVa and FSU, the potential for a telecast was no long shot. However, Virginia athletic director Jim Copeland made it clear before the season started that if the game was to be televised, it would have to be on ESPN's prime-time CFA schedule.
ABC asked anyway, and UVa considered the request. Finally, on Monday, Virginia told the network it wouldn't change the 7:30 kickoff. The decision was made by President John Casteen, Leonard Sandridge, UVa's senior vice president and chief financial officer, and Copeland. Board members, college deans and coach George Welsh were consulted.
The reaction at Florida State was predictable. Athletic director Bob Goin ripped Virginia's decision and complained about ``denying the public free access to the best college games of the year.'
Who's Goin kidding? The Seminoles have a two-game lead in the ACC race, and the Cavs have blown a 28-point lead to Clemson and played like cadavers in a thumping Saturday at North Carolina.
The money-is-everything complaints from FSU are predictably self-serving. When the school was invited by the ACC, Florida State had to promise that its athletic program would get a needed academic polishing.
Maybe FSU is in the wrong league. The Seminoles are displaying a tail-wags-dog attitude that has been prevalent in Southeastern Conference football for decades.
The real reason the Seminoles are furious is that after being refused by UVa, ABC chose to air the Florida-Georgia game. The Seminoles' other state rival, Miami, plays in the Oct. 31 ESPN prime-time game against West Virginia.
UVa did not cost itself and FSU $800,000 as has been reported and misconstrued elsewhere. All ACC TV money is split evenly among the nine conference members. So, the decision cost each ACC school about $89,000.
ABC took the low road after getting UVa's decision. Citing a clause in the network's contract with the CFA, ABC said it would still count this as one of the minimum of 12 ACC appearances over two years.
CFS Executive Director Chuck Neinas said he had several conversations with ABC and the ACC on the UVa-FSU game, but spoke only once with Copeland. ``Jim explained to me the problem, the conflicts. It's an unfortunate circumstance,' Neinas said.
The CFA chief also said ABC's threat to count the UVa-FSU offer as one appearance ``is academic' because the network already has scheduled five ACC appearances this season, and Florida-Florida State or Georgia Tech-Georgia will be a sixth, on Nov. 28.
The decision on the FSU game was made for the right reasons. And even without ABC, it's already turned the volume on a new ACC rivalry up a notch.