What’s the latest on conference expansion? Nothing.
As the playoff meetings play out in Chicago, university officials from across the country are watching with bated breath. Depending on how things shake out in the Windy City, we could be in for some more stormy weather on the conference realignment front. Or we could finally enjoy a peaceful summer. (Here’s hoping for peace, for once.)
In the ACC, all eyes are on Florida State and Clemson. While Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech supposedly put out feelers to the Big 12, we’ve been told that that was the work of interested boosters, not the schools. And before you say it, we’ve been told those boosters were acting on their own and acting as though they had a lot more power than they really did. (See: Andy Haggard’s rant at Florida State in May for a comparison.)
Warchant.com — the Rivals site covering FSU — got its hands on the talking points president Eric Barron delivered to his school’s board of trustees last week. In it he said the new playoff format would not leave the ACC out and that a plan favoring conference champs would benefit the Seminoles and their league. He also said that FSU needs to start performing better within the ACC, that the league needs to realign its divisions to create more regional rivalries, and that academics in the ACC are better than those in the Big 12. He also pointed out that of all the BCS leagues’ footprints, Florida State has fewer alumni in the Big 12 states than in any other region.
Meanwhile at Clemson, football coach Dabo Swinney told TigerNet.com yesterday that he doesn’t believe a move to the Big 12 will happen. And he made it very clear that he’s as pro-ACC as Florida State’s president:
“Going to the Big 12 is something I don’t think is best for us, and I know for a fact that we are 100% committed to making this the best program and best conference we possibly can. It has been a real distraction…
Quite frankly, I think there has been a lot of irresponsible reporting or blogging. We live in a world where someone hears something from a guy in the third stall down in the bathroom, and it is like, ‘That’s the fact. That’s the way it is.’ But it is so far removed from reality and it just take a life of its own. It has been a real distraction. We are 1000% committed to the ACC…
In my opinion, going to the Big 12 would be the worst thing we could do as a football program. It makes zero sense. We are the ACC. This is a program that has just won the championship and we’ve won it more than any other team in the conference. We can fulfill any goal and dream we have right here in this conference. We have a tremendous footprint to recruit in, to play in…
If you want to know how going to the Big 12 is going to affect Clemson, I’ve lived it for about the last month. It has been very negative, very negative. It has impacted and affected our recruiting.”
That’s about as bold a statement as you’ll ever see. Good luck walking that one back should the Tigers up and move to the Big 12. (In other words, don’t expect the Tigers to up and move to the Big 12.)
Out in Big 12 county, Orangebloods.com – the Rivals site covering Texas — reports that Big 12 officials still believe Notre Dame could be lured into moving its non-football sports from the Big East. If the Irish jumped their other sports to the Big 12 — the Texas-centric theory goes — then other schools might take an interest in jumping to the Big 12 (Florida State, Clemson, Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, yada, yada, yada).
But according to the site:
“Sources in the Big 12 told Orangebloods.com Florida State would be the most attractive expansion candidate, but only if the Seminoles’ leadership was in unison about jumping conferences. And it’s become clear Florida State’s leadership is not unified about leaving the ACC at this time…
The sense I’m getting from Big 12 sources is the Big 12 won’t make any moves in terms of expansion until it knows what Notre Dame is doing. And if Florida State isn’t on the table, then it’s unlikely any other ACC team is on the table.”
You might choose to just call this the calm before the storm, but we at MrSEC.com are sticking to what we said when reports first popped up that FSU and Clemson were already a “done deal” to the Big 12 and that buyouts were already in the works… and that’s “poppycock.” We called “hogwash” then and we stand by that.
The tail wagged the dog, folks. Haggard — FSU’s ex-chairperson of the board of trustees — read nonsensical rumors online, got bad info on the ACC’s TV deal, and popped off that his school would be willing to listen to offers from other leagues. Suddenly, the goofball rumors of “done deals” looked real, simply because they were now being viewed through the lens provided by Haggard and his rant. Only those rumors weren’t real.
Now, if the powers-that-be in college football come back with a playoff plan — that is approved by the presidents — that basically sets up a four-conference fight for the national crown, well, then maybe you’ll see mass realignment and expansion as a result. But when all’s said and done, we believe you can expect to see everyone have a shot at making the playoffs. (If not, the Pac-12, Big Ten, SEC and Big 12 had better have their lawyers on stand-by.) We also believe the five biggest leagues — including the ACC — will get a lot more rich from a playoff TV deal while all the other leagues just get more rich. If that’s the case, don’t expect any of the “a lot more rich” leagues to lose members.
All of that is good news for Mike Slive and the Southeastern Conference, of course. After experiencing what Florida president Bernie Machen called “digestion issues” as a result of adding two schools, no one in the SEC is hoping for further addition anytime soon.