I’m still trying to track down the right people to get a little better grip on what exactly is happening with the Big 12 and conference realignment as of today, but until I do, and before this thing gets too far down the road, let’s dive into a quick recap of what’s happened the last couple of days.
First, and of varying degrees of importance depending upon your interpretation, new Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby spoke with the USA Today on Wednesday about the conference’s plans for expansion.
“Conference realignment will continue to be an issue and one we all have to be vigilant about,” Bowlsby told USA Today. “I think the topic of expansion will be on every agenda going forward. But it’s on every other conference's agenda going forward, too.”
Bowlsby officially takes over on June 15 and somewhere in that same time frame, the BCS is expected to make final its plans for the future. Once both of those things happen, the Big 12 and the rest of the nation will be able to take a little more realistic approach to what’s next in the world of conference realignment.
Until then, it will be a lot of talk and speculation, which is something that does not appear to bother the folks at Florida State. Despite many saying that the Big 12 reached out to FSU and some folks within the Big 12 saying that there have been no talks between the league and the Seminoles, Florida State’s leaders continue to paint a picture that they would be very interested in hearing what the Big 12 has to offer.
For one, it could be one heck of an offer that’s simply too good to pass up. For two, it gives them at least a little leverage with the ACC, which finds itself very much on the brink of being where the Big 12 was about this time last year.
Here are a couple of great links that can get you up to date regarding where Florida State stands.
Dan Wetzel, of Yahoo! Sports, writes that recent comments made by Andy Haggard, chairman of Florida State’s board of trustees, may have lit the fuse on a move to the Big 12:
Here are those comments in their entirety:
More from Gene Williams, of Warchant.com, who says FSU’s flirtations with the Big 12 are all about money:
One more from Warchant.com, this time from Paul Thomas, who got ahold of an email from Florida State president Eric Barron which outlined several cons of a move to the Big 12:
On a similar note, here’s a column from Florida State’s Scout.com site that explores if the Big 12 or even, gasp!, the SEC would even want FSU:
Finally, I know there were reports that said that the Clemson football program had been informed that the school was moving to the Big 12, but those, at least at this point, appear to be severely premature. Shocking, isn’t it?
Wednesday, Clemson’s board chairman told The Post and Courier that the school had had no contact with the Big 12 and remained committed to the ACC. I know that semantics come into play a lot here and it’s entirely possible that “no contact” does not mean no contact, but, in this case, I believe it’s true.
Although I’m still rolling my sleeves up for this round and have been reaching out to sources all over the country, one thing that seems to be solid is that Clemson will not make a move first. If Florida State goes and is looking for a partner, the Tigers could become interested in joining them very quickly. But a scenario that has CU as the first to leave seems highly unlikely. Again, that’s today.
Again, it’s still very early on in Conference Realignment Round 3, and we may not even ever get to the point where this thing gets off the ground and starts to soar. But those of you who followed the Big 12 during the past two summers surely understand a couple of things right about now:
The ACC is in trouble and it is going to do everything it can to ensure its survival. Remember when it looked as if the Big 12 was dead because Texas and Oklahoma were headed to the Pac-10? That was when the Big 12 got to work and did whatever it took to keep Texas and OU and to keep the conference alive. I’m sure the ACC is willing and able to go to similar lengths to preserve itself here. If it can't, it could very well be the end of the ACC as we know it, as the Big 12, Big Ten, SEC and even the Big East could make quick and concentrated moves to scoop up many more of the league's schools.
Although Florida State and Clemson are the two schools talking the most right now, that doesn’t mean that others aren’t working on things quietly and behind the scenes. It hardly matters now, but, if you remember, KU was awfully quiet during a good chunk of the realignment fiasco, but I can assure you that KU’s leaders were talking to people every day in an attempt to put KU in the best position possible. The desired outcome the entire time was for the Big 12 to survive, and it did. But there were back-up plans in place — several of them.
Georgia Tech, Maryland, Rutgers, NC State, Virginia Tech.... each of those schools has been tossed into this latest mess in at least a couple of different places and there appears to be varying degrees of interest regarding a possible move. I reached out to sources at a couple of those schools and got the same answer at each — “things are very quiet now. Not much is being talked about.” That’s too be expected, of course, and whether it stays that way or changes will be determined by what happens in the next few weeks.