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November 6, 2012

Source: FSU, Oklahoma State in talks to face off in 2014

Florida State is working on an agreement to play Oklahoma State at Cowboys Stadium in Dallas to kick off the 2014 season, a source close to the discussions confirmed to Warchant.com on Tuesday.

The source spoke on the condition of anonymity since discussions for the game are ongoing and have been for several weeks. CBSSports.com first reported the potential season-opening matchup, citing an unnamed source in a report on Sunday.

While the deal is not finalized, the source told Warchant.com that the agreement could be completed within the month.

FSU coach Jimbo Fisher has been increasingly open to a stronger schedule since the ACC announced it would cancel plans to move to a nine-game conference slate in 2013. The league stopped those plans and kept an eight-game schedule in light of Notre Dame joining as a partial ACC member.

Fisher had voiced his disdain with a nine-game ACC slate and its consequences with FSU's future scheduling since conference play and an annual battle with archrival Florida would lock the Seminoles into 10 of its 12 games each season. That would hamper FSU's ability to schedule marquee out of conference games while continuing to schedule seven home games per season.

Fisher mentioned during his weekly call-in show on Oct. 24 that he was open to the idea of playing in a "kickoff" season opening game but did not get into specifics on a date or an opponent.

"We're trying to talk to some folks about some big games and possibly maybe being in one of those kickoff games and possibly doing something against a significant opponent starting off (the season)," Fisher said on Oct. 24.

The benefit of neutral site season openers come in dollars and exposure. According to AnnArbor.com, which cited the contract between Michigan, ESPN and Cowboys Stadium - the annual host of the Cowboys Classic - Michigan was given a $4.7 million guarantee to face Alabama to start the 2012 season. The Sports Business Journal reported that LSU took home $3.5 million and Oregon made $2 million to play in the 2011 Cowboys Classic.

According to documents obtained by Warchant.com, Florida State has averaged between $2.2 million and $2.5 million in ticket revenue per home game in each of the past five seasons. With a seven-game home slate including a game against No. 1 Oklahoma, FSU averaged $2.47 million in ticket revenue per game last season. That ticket revenue does not factor in secondary revenue streams like concessions or expenditures like security and staffing.

It is believed that Florida State is open to a neutral site game as long as the school's guarantee would eclipse its typical ticket revenue for a home game.

FSU was given a $2.3 million guarantee to play Alabama in Jacksonville in 2007. In 2008, the Seminoles returned to Jacksonville, bringing its designated home game against Colorado. But with no guarantee in place and FSU operating the game on its own, FSU netted just $1.6 million in income.

A season opener against a proven BCS opponent could also bolster the Seminoles' strength of schedule, something that could provide a boost in a new four-team playoff structure that starts in 2014.

Florida State last played in a season-opening kickoff game in 2002, playing Iowa State at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City. Florida State opened six different seasons on neutral fields between 1989-2000.

2013 schedule update

As for next season, Florida State still has one opening on its schedule which was created by the ACC's move from nine to eight league games. Florida State is already scheduled to play Nevada, Florida and FCS opponent Wofford out of conference in 2013.

Warchant.com reported in September that Nevada was looking for other Division I-A teams to take its place on the Seminoles' 2013 schedule. Warchant.com has learned that Nevada is no closer to an agreement with a replacement team, making it more likely that the Wolf Pack will honor its contract and play in Tallahassee next season.

The final out of conference game has not been finalized, but Warchant.com has learned that FSU is not entertaining the idea of playing an ACC team as a non-conference foe to fill the vacancy. Florida State is also not entertaining the idea of putting another FCS opponent on the schedule.

With the addition of Syracuse and Pittsburgh to the ACC in 2013, the league's schedule hasn't been finalized, either. Florida State will play division games against Maryland, Wake Forest, Boston College, Clemson, N.C. State, and new Atlantic Division member Syracuse. FSU will continue to play Miami as its cross-divisional permanent rival as well, but the eighth game for 2013 has not been determined.

If the ACC would have stayed at 12 teams and continued its cross divisional rotation, FSU was slated to host Virginia Tech and travel to Georgia Tech next season. However, with the addition of Syracuse and its effect on the cross-divisional schedule, it leaves only one conference game opening and it is unclear which team FSU will face.

ACC Senior Associate Commissioner Michael Kelly told Warchant.com that there's "no guarantee" that it will be Virginia Tech or Georgia Tech.

Kelly said the league's 2013 schedule is a "work in progress." The league is working on getting a new 12-year conference pattern along with Notre Dame's future ACC schedule completed by the end of the calendar year.

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