Television contracts mean big money for college football leagues such as the Atlantic Coast Conference.
For that very reason, the University of Maine won’t be playing ACC member Florida State in September.
Florida State is close to finalizing a deal to drop the Black Bears from their scheduled Sept. 5 season opener in order to play a nationally televised (ESPN) Labor Day (Sept. 7) night contest against the University of Miami.
“It was ultimately being driven by the ACC’s need to have Florida State in a different game on a given weekend,” UMaine athletic director Blake James said Monday of the pending switch.
“I don’t believe we’ll be playing Florida State [in 2009],” said James, who pointed out UMaine will still receive the $450,000 it had previously been guaranteed for the game.
“We’re in the final stages of working out a deal that would release both Florida State and Maine from the contract for next season,” he said.
Instead, UMaine is negotiating a game against Bowl Championship Subdivision member Syracuse University of the Big East Conference in a 2009 game at the Carrier Dome, according to UMaine media relations spokesman Doug DeBiase.
James declined to discuss the new FBS opponent, saying negotiations are ongoing. He said he has talked to representatives of several schools in recent weeks trying to find games for next fall.
“At this time, we’re still finalizing the details,” he said.
Rob Edson, Syracuse’s senior associate athletics director and chief financial officer, said officials from the two schools have been talking about such a game.
“All I can confirm is that we are having discussions with them (as we have with many others) about the possibility of filling our [last available spot] in 2009,” he told The Post-Standard of Syracuse via e-mail on Monday.
“All of the involved details are still being evaluated by both schools to determine if we can agree on the particulars and if we can arrange a date that works given each of our current scheduling commitments,” Edson added.
Last fall, UMaine had agreed to play at Syracuse in 2010, but it appears that game will be moved up to 2009.
James said retaining the $450,000 payday, even while losing the Florida State game, was a key condition of UMaine’s talks with FSU.
“At this point, it won’t change financially for the University of Maine in terms of the amount of the guarantee,” James said.
Under the original contract, Florida State would have been obligated to pay UMaine $900,000 had it backed out of the game and not facilitated the scheduling of another BCS opponent for the Black Bears.
The addition of the Syracuse game appears to meet that condition, although James would not divulge details of the financial arrangement.
James said as a result of the extensive conversations between UMaine and FSU, they could still play at a later date.
“I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of us playing them sometime in the future,” he said.
Even if UMaine locks down Syracuse for its FBS game, the Black Bears are still searching for another nonconference opponent from the Football Championship Subdivision ranks to complete the ’09 slate.
Canary wins top CAA honor
UMaine’s Ryan Canary has been named the Colonial Athletic Association Football Student-Athlete of the Year.
The senior offensive lineman from Point Pleasant, N.J., was recognized for his combined performance on the field and in the classroom last fall.
“I was very surprised. I really didn’t expect it,” said Canary, 6-foot-2, 276-pound center who helped lead coach Jack Cosgrove’s Black Bears to an 8-5 record and a spot in the NCAA FCS playoffs last season.
Joining Canary on the CAA Football Academic All-Conference team were six UMaine teammates: redshirt freshman fullback Jared Turcotte of Lewiston, junior quarterback Mike Brusko, senior safety Jonathan Calderon, sophomore defensive back Derrick Harris, senior punter Kash Kiefer and senior defensive lineman Jonathan Pirruccello.
Canary also was named to the All-CAA First Team and was an All-America honorable mention by The Sports Network. The three-time CAA Football All-Academic Team choice, owns a 3.70 cumulative grade point average while majoring in secondary education.
“Academics have been a huge part of my life from when I started school,” Canary said. “I knew football wasn’t going to always be there, so I needed something to fall back on.”
He is student teaching this semester in Marty Clark’s social studies classes at Old Town High School.
“I love working with the kids,” said Canary, who is planning to attend graduate school to pursue a degree in special education.
In the meantime, he will attend UMaine’s football pro day and work out for National Football League scouts and hopes to spend the summer playing and coaching football in a semipro league in Denmark.
Players named to the all-academic squad must have been a starter or important reserve and have a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or better for their collegiate academic career. Voting is done by the CAA’s 12 sports information directors.