Conference realignment in college football is a tricky beast. It can split-up classic rivalries, it can make or break conferences and it is often based on rumors. Those rumors can be hard to read as well, but one that keeps popping up seems to have staying power, and that is because it makes sense and is eventually going to make the transition from mere rumor to occurring event. The Florida State Seminoles are going to leave the ACC, and they won’t be leaving alone.
The first time I caught wind of this was back in the summer of 2012. There were whispers that FSU had put out feelers to see what conferences would be interested in acquiring them. The Big 12 was said to be the front runner destination for Florida State if they were to jump ship, but it didn’t end up happening. At the time there wasn’t talk of the Seminoles’ departure being part of any kind of package deal. That didn’t happen until the second coming of the rumor over the winter.
In early December a radio station in Florida began spreading the rumor that FSU was once again shopping itself around and that there were some bites. The Big 12 was once again said to be a strong contender, but this go-around the SEC was also said to be involved. The bigger story though was that FSU was not going to be the only school on the move. Supposedly either the Clemson Tigers or Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets would be part of a package deal, and if a conference wanted to add Florida State they would also have to add one of the other two. Again, nothing ended up happening, but it was curious that FSU had once again come up as a university on the move.
Talk about a big name school making a conference change doesn’t come from nowhere, it comes from somebody in the know at the school opening their lips and spilling the story for a quick buck. Thank God for those people, because they give guys like me something to talk about. Then you have to consider why talk of FSU moving has surfaced more than once. The answer is pretty straight forward: it keeps coming up because it makes sense.
The ACC is a basketball conference. There just aren’t any two ways about it. Schools like FSU, Clemson and GT are solid on the court, but their real talent is on the gridiron, so it would be reasonable that they would want to make a move to a more football centered conference like the Big 12 or SEC.
As far as more solid evidence one need only to examine the last time the ACC’s athletic directors raised the conference exit fee. While the vote to up the fees was unanimous, only two schools stepped forward to keep the price hike from being as high as originally proposed. Florida State was one of them. By voting to increase the fees FSU showed a degree of commitment to the ACC, which helps them if they aren’t able to move. However, they convince the other members to only minimally increase the fee, which makes it more affordable for the ‘Noles to leave.
Florida State making a move to either the Big 12 or SEC and taking a friend along for the ride makes perfect sense, especially if the Big 12 is the destination. If FSU were to step into the SEC, they would have to be considered one of the top six teams in the conference, but in the Big 12 they would be in the top three. The ‘Noles would be put up on even footing with the Oklahoma Sooners and Texas Longhorns as an annual powerhouse, and the TV deal that the Big 12 currently has would mean big bucks for FSU as well. The Big 12 already has a desire to grow its brand in the state of Florida through a bowl deal, but adding the Seminoles would be bigger by an immeasurable amount. I’ve been to Tallahassee during my travels, and that town has a bit of a College Station feel to it, and the atmosphere there feels like a Big 12 vibe. The cultures match up, the money would be right, and most importantly the ‘Noles would instantly be highly competitive in the Big 12.
As far as I am concerned it is no longer a question of if, but when, the deal gets done.
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