The Big 12 is only guaranteed to exist for the 6 year grant of TV rights. Gasoline is projected to be $4.50 a gallon by Summer. All travel costs are going up 15 to 25% as a result. In the end without 4 schools in a pod within easy driving distance of your institution the move simply is not going to be feasible for the fan base, even if the institutions can justify the expense. Alienating your fan base to bet that UT and OU are going to stick with it longer than 6 years in an economic climate this unstable, and with the landscape of college football changing at an accelerated pace, simply isn't sane. There are really only about 73 schools that will merit being in an upper tier of the FBS. If the PAC & B1G coordinate as 1 unit of 24 that leaves 49 scrambling to find a home. If the Big 12, ACC, and SEC all move to 16 that leaves 1. If the Big East remains there will be no real format to establish the super conferences. If the PAC & B1G decide to move to 16 a piece that leaves no room for either the ACC, or the Big 12. Which one do you think will be the most likely to dissipate? The ACC generates far more money than the Big 12 from coordinated research grants. The ACC while long and narrow geographically is connected by I95 for the most part. Broken into North and South divisions most of the games would still be within reasonable driving distance. The Big 12 is all spread out (except for the Texas schools) and not easily connected by highways. If the Big 12 adds Louisville and not Cincy or another school somewhere nearer to WVU than ISU then there will be no long term stability for the Northern Division. Texas is wealthy enough to go it alone. They are wealthy enough to travel at distance and weather the current economic environment should they decide for the B1G, ACC, or PAC. It's the Big 12 that will blow up. If the Longhorns continue with 7-5 seasons against teams from the lower end of the academic rating pool (WVU tied with Louisville at 164, or Cincy at 143) whose entrance requirements permit athletes that Texas has to pass over, do you really think they will want to stay in the "revitalized Big 12"? If the Big 12 imposes a unified entrance requirement do you really think that Louisville, WVU, KState, and even OSU will go for that. In the end there is no cohesion around which to build a longstanding conference relationship. The last time there was unity was in the Big 8, before Texas. Texas couldn't even hold their State Conference the SWC together. They fit academicly, and athletically with the B1G. They fit academically and athletically with the ACC. The PAC is doable academically. The SEC is doable athletically. The problem is the Big 12 isn't doable for them at all, but they are too enamored with being the queen bee! The rest of the Big 12 would be happier without them, but not healthier without them. Now that's a problem Clemson and FSU don't want.
We laughed off the rumors and went on about our business.
But apparently those rumors spread far enough through the Carolinas to spur TigerNet.com to ask Clemson AD Terry Don Phillips if there was any meat on them bones:
“There is no substance to that. None. The Big 12 has a committee formed — I guess you would call it an expansion committee — to look at the future of the Big 12 conference. I would suspect without knowing that part of the charge of that particular committee would be to look at continual expansion because they are no longer the Big 12. They have lost their championship game and so I would suspect they are looking at it. But in regard to Clemson or Florida State — of course I can’t speak for Florida State but I do have a pretty good feel for that part of the country — but I don’t feel like they have talked with anyone and I can say for sure with Clemson there is no substance to that.”
Asked if anyone from the Big 12 had contacted Clemson officials, Phillips said, “No.”
When Oklahoma AD Joe Costiglione said last month that the Big 12 would look at expanding at some point in the future, it was only a matter of time before far-fetched rumors began to zip through cyberspace. That’s happened. And naturally, those rumors have kicked up questions about the SEC’s plans. But until there is a major change to the college football landscape, we firmly believe that the Southeastern Conference will remain a 14-school league.