The messages from the actual Florida State administration still seem mixed regarding a possible move to the Big 12, but a report on Sunday from Ingram Smith on ChuckOliver.net has added more momentum to the runaway freight train that is conference realignment by calling the prospective Seminole move to the Big 12 "inevitable."
Clearly seeking to establish the credibility of the report (after all, what is ChuckOliver.net and who is Ingram Smith?), Smith cites sources "with the strongest ties possible to the Florida State's Athletic Department."
It smacks of a strategic leak as the Florida State administration seeks to come to their own consensus behind the scenes about the next move and waiting for movement on the part of the Big 12, but using a relatively unknown website would be an odd way to go about doing that.
Whatever the credibility of the sources used for the story, the example of Texas A&M provides sufficient evidence to support the argument that these realignment rumors can create enough momentum within a fanbase and, more importantly, the power-wielding donors and boosters of a school, that the move to another conference can essentially be taken out of the administration's hands due to the amount of pressure applied.
And, also, money -- that green stuff is important, too.
As far as the Big 12 is concerned, the league now appears to be stable (i.e. not in danger of completely collapsing), in large part due to the influx of TV money with the conference's new deal that is fueling much of this talk after the numbers associated with the ACC's new deal came out, but that old issue of consensus has once again reared it's head.
At issue again is whether the league wants to expand past 10 teams:
Sources: Big 12 expansion breakdown: 4 schools OK with it, 4 on fence, 1 pushing hard to make it happen, 1 pushing hard to prevent it.— Dave Sittler (@DaveSittler) May 20, 2012
The best guess for the school pushing to prevent it is Texas, as head coachhas been outspoken about his dislike of the conference championship game that would result from expansion to or past 12 teams. The advocate? Possibly West Virginia, currently geographically isolated, or maybe even Oklahoma, which has supported expansion in the past and appears more ready to challenge and disagree with the Longhorn administration under president David Boren, who has seemingly wrested power away from athletic director Joe Castiglione, considered close friends with DeLoss Dodds.
The first task for new commissioner Bob Bowlsby will be building some consensus in the league and, if it is Texas opposing the move, how he deals with it should some light on the new power dynamic within the Big 12 and where the Longhorns, long considered the bullies during the Dan Beebe administration, stand within it.
However, the timing of the transition from interim commissioner Chuck Neinas provides an interesting obstacle. As the Smith article points out, the annual meeting for the Big 12 will happen on May 30th, while Neinas is still acting commissioner. To what extent will Bowlsby factor into those meetings, as he will not officially take office until the middle of June?
Neinas helped secure the television deal that has put the Big 12 in a position of power moving forward in conference realignment, so it's possible that he's as well-suited as Bowlsby to help the conference come to a decision regarding expansion. The conference will need to make a statement at that time about whether or not it is considering expansion, at which point things could begin happening quickly regarding the logistics of Florida State making the move, as well as shedding more light on which school would join the Seminoles.
What decision will the Big 12 make? Even if Texas continues to oppose the addition of two or more teams, the addition of Florida State and another school like Clemson or Georgia Tech would benefit the conference too much to pass it up -- in the end, it would be wise for the Longhorns to fall in line and show that they can play nicely with others.