Big 12 football: How Florida State & Clemson would fit
The Florida State/Clemson romance with the Big 12 has gone past the blogosphere and now is being discussed by people involved in the decision-making. Florida State athletic director Randy Spetman declared the Seminoles’ commitment to the Atlantic Coast, but a day later, Andy Haggard, chairman of FSU’s board of trustees, ripped the ACC’s new television contract with ESPN and said his school absolutely should look at the Big 12. Even Florida State football coach Jimbo Fisher didn’t discount the validity of considering such a move.
Yahoo! Sports’ Dan Wetzel speculated that Miami, not Clemson, could be Florida State’s partner in a potential move to the Big 12.
Still seems like a longshot, but it’s gone past the pure speculation stage. It’s at least been tossed out there by a school official. So my question is, what would the Big 12 look like with Florida State and Clemson? Or Florida State and Miami? Or Florida State and Louisville, I suppose.
Florida State would replace Nebraska as a national brand for the Big 12. Clemson or Miami would be a step up from Colorado, and while Louisville would be about the same, Louisville’s basketball would trump CU’s. So if you believe that West Virginia and TCU are a match for Missouri and Texas A&M (which they are competitively, just not geographically), then Big 12 football actually is an improved product. Again, the downside — and it’s a big downside — is the geographic bloatedness. The Big 12 then would stretch from Florida to West Virginia to Iowa to Texas. That’s a big chunk of real estate.
Of course, Florida State probably feels like it’s conference has been stretched already. In recent years, Boston College, Syracuse and Pitt have joined the ACC.
How would the Big 12 split into divisions? I assume the Oklahoma and Texas schools would remain together in a division. That would promote some level of continuity, since five of the six schools (all but TCU) were in a division together starting in 1996. The other division would have no geographic semblance — Kansas State, Kansas, Iowa State, West Virginia, Florida State and Clemson or Miami.
No geographic identity, but a danged good football division. Florida State and West Virginia might not rival OU and Texas, but they more than make up for Nebraska and Missouri, which ruled the Big 12 North when the conference began disintegrating. Clemson would be a solid counterpart to OSU and Kansas State is a match for TCU, The (old) South Division still would retain superiority, since Baylor has risen and Texas Tech should rebound from two straight sub-par seasons. But still, that’s far better parity than what we saw out of the last 10 years of the pre-realignment Big 12.
Now, travel would be a bear. It would help West Virginia to some degree, but everyone else would be more stretched. The minor sports would be severely affected. Already, baseball teams in this part of the country face a trip to West Virginia every other year. Expansion like this would mean one or two such trips every season.
And basketball would be a mess. With three teams stationed back East, the league could not adopt a travel-partner system, unless it wanted to make Iowa State and West Virginia travel partners. Which would be weird.
But the football would be big-time. The fertile Florida recruiting ground would be opened to the Big 12. The networks would love it, and the Big 12 television contract could be reworked for an even bigger payday. And of course, more and more good games.
I still think it’s a longshot. Florida State in all likelihood is posturing for some kind of ACC concessions. I still think the Seminoles ultimately will decide they’d rather stay in a league based in their part of the country. But someone in Tallahassee wants to consider jumping.
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