Conference Expansion Will Not Die: What's Next For the Big 12 and Florida State?
Published on: May 10, 2012 | Written by: Clay Travis
The Big 12 still has ten members.
It's an incompetent, broken conference that has two real powers -- Texas and Oklahoma -- and eight satellite schools that are so brow-beaten and terrified of the future that they will allow Texas to pimp slap them around whenever it feels like it. (Okay, Oklahoma State has T. Boone and is linked at the hip to Oklahoma so let's make it seven bitches).
Hell, West Virginia was willing to cut Louisville to become Texas's newest bitch.
That's some crazy pimp love for you.
So Kansas, Kansas State, Baylor, Iowa State, West Virginia, Texas Tech, and TCU are all part of Texas's harem.
When Texas asks them to jump, they ask how high.
Instead of putting a breast feeding three year old on the cover of Time, these seven schools could have all been shown suckling at the Texas teat.
But it's the summer, the crazy season for expansion rumors, and courtesy of Orangebloods.com comes the latest rumor -- Florida State is looking at the Big 12.
That would be an absolute blockbuster no-brainer addition for the Big 12. Suddenly Texas would have another conference rival of similar stature to match up against.
Prior to now the only real expansion candidates that have gotten any attention are Louisville and Cincinnati, two mediocre floundering Midwestern cities with the expansion sex appeal of Dame Judi Dench.
That's why it made the most sense for the Big 12 to stay at ten schools. Especially since a Big 12 with TCU and West Virginia replacing Texas A&M and Missouri is a drastically less valuable league. Toss in the loss of Colorado and Nebraska and the Big 12 has lost four of its top six brands in three years.
That's ominous, a clear regression at a time of expansion.
But now Texas and Oklahoma, the only two teams with any options outside the Big 12, have made pinkie swear contractual commitments to the league and things seem to have stabilized. The money is pretty good, the schedule is cushy for Texas and Oklahoma, but the national attention will be light. Aside from Texas-Oklahoma will any game in this league attract substantial coverage?
Of course not.
But with ten teams every Big 12 team plays each other and you don't have to stage a title game.
Or figure out how to set up the divisions with the addition of Louisville and Cincinnati.
Would a Big 12 North of Kansas, Kansas State, West Virginia, Iowa State, Louisville and Cincinnati really be possible? Talk about lopsided divisions.
The Big 12 South would be Texas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, TCU, Texas Tech, and Baylor.
How would you split up these divisions? Especially if, as Ken Starr argued, Texas schools need to play each other every year. And if you want to make sure that rematches don't regularly occur in the title game.
It's a mess with no real television benefit.
That's why I just don't buy Louisville and Cincinnati as legitimate possibilities.
But what if there was a top brand that was sitting out there on the sideline ready to spurn another major conference and sign up?
What if Florida State, aware that the SEC will never add it, is finally deciding that the football in a new 14 team basketball-heavy ACC, isn't up to snuff? (And, yes, I just used the word snuff).
Would Florida State really bail on the ACC?
More importantly, are Florida State fans really interested in making the leap?
In the modern era this is the single most important factor. Fans drove Missouri and Texas A&M to the SEC and West Virginia to the Big 12. If Florida State fans demand a departure for the Big 12, the school would eventually buckle to popular opinion. Fans have never been more powerful. Social media is a game-changer.
But is there that fan demand? I've polled Florida State fans on Twitter -- admittedly this is a small sample size -- and the desire for the Big 12 seems to be about 60-40. Mizzou and A&M were more like 90-10, and I don't believe there was a single West Virginia fan on earth who wanted to stay in the Big East.
Fans drove these moves. (West Virginia fans even drove a near Senate showdown over expansion.)
Now, that FSU fan drumbeat could rise -- many of these leaks seem designed to gauge fan opinion in advance which is actually really smart -- but right now it isn't to a level that would necessitate a move.
Plus, while we know it's a blockbuster addition for the Big 12 -- and stupendous loss for the ACC -- does it make sense for FSU to leave?
Here's the pro-argument in three sentences:
The football is better in the Big 12 and we could set up our own local TV network throughout the state of Florida to carry our tier 3 games which would lead to more television money. That would allow us a competitive advantage when it came to snagging market share over the SEC's Florida Gators, playing in the best conference in the land, and Miami, residing in the most fertile recruiting territory. The Big 12 with FSU -- and a school to be named later, potentially Clemson -- becomes the second best football conference in the country.
Why shouldn't Florida State leave the ACC? Here's the anti-argument:
Because the ACC hasn't really gotten that much better at football and it's easier to win the ACC than the Big 12. If Jimbo Fisher really got the Seminoles rolling again, FSU could more easily dominate the ACC than it could the Big 12. If you go undefeated or 13-1, the conference really doesn't matter for a program like FSU. Plus, if we care about our fans, how many are making trips halfway across the country to Iowa State or Kansas State? Finally, you think the ACC is dominated by North Carolina schools? Wait until you meet Texas.
Meanwhile, what does this flirtation mean for the ACC? Remember what I told y'all back when Pittsburgh and Syracuse were added to the ACC -- the ACC expanded out of fear, not strength. Fourteen teams was about ensuring that you still had 12 if two teams left. Back then the ACC feared that the SEC might snag two members -- I still think Virginia Tech and N.C. State will eventually be in the SEC -- and wanted to ensure that it raided before the Big East made any moves. The Big East and ACC were set to fight a death battle, the ACC preemptively struck and won that contest.
So if Florida State moved to the Big 12, who would make the most sense to go with them? Georgia Tech is the first school that comes to mind, but I don't believe Georgia Tech would leave the ACC for the vastly inferior academics of the Big 12. Assume that no North Carolina schools would move and you're left with one option in the ACC, Clemson. So if you're ranking expansion candidates that are willing to leave their present conference the Big 12's board really only has four legitimate candidates:
1. Florida State
In the ever shifting world of conference realignment, the Big East just became massive fans of Florida State and Clemson leaving for the Big 12.
I don't think the ACC would expand again, the Big 12 certainly wouldn't, and the Big East football conference would remain intact.
So the real question is, how will Florida State fans respond to the idea of the Big 12?
If Seminole fans demand a departure, Florida State will be in the Big 12. If they don't, it won't.