Coming soon to a conference near you?
It's nice being the hunter rather than the hunted for a change, no?
As most BON readers have no doubt heard about by now, rumors have been flying fast and furious the last few days about Florida State having a serious interest in moving to the Big 12. Or, more precisely, the comments of certain prominent figures connected with the university (Wes Haggard, the head of the Board of Trustees) and its football program (head coach Jimbo Fisher), and the subsequent reaction by many of the school's supporters and alums, have ripped open the facade of the ACC being one big happy family.
Never mind the fact that Haggard has walked back his comments a bit and that FSU's president is attempting to disavow any interest. As we witnessed from A&M's move to the SEC, once key individuals, egged on by their alumni and fanbase (go take a look at this 600+ comment discussion on Tomahawk Nation and get a sense on how vigorously pro-Big 12 a strong majority of its readers seem to be), start considering greener pastures (whether real or illusory) elsewhere, events might unfold with such a momentum that moving becomes the only option.
There's not much I can add substantively which hasn't been reported up already. (Read this Andy Staples piece from today if you want a good summary of how this has gone down.) And it's way too early to get a good feel on how this will play out. Forget about what course of action FSU may or may not eventually choose to pursue: we have very little public indication about whether
DeLoss Dodds the Big 12 would like to expand back to a descriptively-correct number of teams even if it had a big fish like FSU there for the taking.* (And who knows what if anything ESPN, which just signed the contract -- which had Haggard [seemingly erroneously] up in arms -- with the ACC, making the conference its biggest content provider around, is doing behind the scenes to keep FSU in place.)
What we can already take away from this, though, is the knowledge that the Big 12 is perceived as a stable, viable and, dare we say, desirable destination by many connected with one of the biggest possible "gets" in the college football universe. The fact that the Staples and Dodds of the college football journalism world are reporting this news with a straight face would have seemed incomprehensible to anyone looking into the future from June 2010 or August 2011. Note to Oklahoma: maybe DeLoss knows what he's doing and this rebuilt Big 12 thing has some legs after all.
And even if FSU's interest proves illusory, we should take from this the lesson that getting back to 12 teams as soon as possible for the mere sake of getting to 12 is folly if the right eleventh and twelfth teams are not available. Is a conference championship so valuable that the conference should invite Louisville and Cincinnati just to get there if, in so doing, the possibility of luring much larger and and much more attractive schools becomes problematic if not impossible. (Who else might those more attractive schools be? Well, for one, one rumor out there this weekend had The U wanting to tag along with FSU.)
So while it's way to soon to contemplate future BON game threads featuring complaints about the extent to which the Seminole War Chant is annoying**, I do think it is safe to pass the popcorn and watch how this unfolds over the weeks and months to come.
(*The correct answer is: "The Big 12 would be damned foolish not to take FSU, no questions asked." But I've rarely had the correct answer anytime realignment has come up the last couple of years, so don't listen to me.)
(**Have you ever been to an FSU game? No? Please rest assured, then, from one who has that the Seminole War Chant, when one is subjected to it in person, is annoying. Very, very, very annoying.)