The Conference Re-Alignment talk continues, and here is the latest information for you from the HornSports.com crew, where our stories are free, and always will be.
First, lets touch on what we know, and from there lay over the latest rumors on who is doing what.
We know the ESPN ACC TV deal was not what teams like Florida State, whose athletic department is facing a near $3 million shortfall, wanted.Â The deal includes stripping teams of their third tier television rights, the same rights Texas parlayed into a $300 million cash cow from ESPN.Â Estimates of the revenue generated by a potential â€œSeminolesâ€ network would be more than enough (about $5 million per year) to cover FSU’s losses.
We know the true power in the ACC lies in basketball on Tobacco Road.Â If you need proof of that, simply look at the schools invited to the ACC, basketball powers Pitt and Syracuse.Â For a football power like FSU with strong basketball and baseball schools, this is almost a slap in the face.
We know the Big 12 has aligned itself perfectly to lure top quality schools like FSU with its strong branding in all sports, strong TV deal, and the freedom to do as you like with third tier TV rights.
We also are well aware the Southeastern Conference has gone to 14 teams, and the Big 12 will need to at least add two teams and restore its conference title game to match up cash and power wise with the SEC. We’re also well aware the Big 12 doesn’t have to just take anyone who comes along like the Big East has.
So now that we’ve established the facts, lets hit on the latest behind the scenes rumors going around, starting with the biggest. Florida State and Clemson, despite popular belief, do not have a deal already done to join the Big 12.Â This would be a very wise move by them, but its not set in stone yet. Florida State’s reasons for joining the Big 12 are pretty clear, and we know FSU has already done a study on the cost of increased travel. Clemson would just be a school along for the ride, a school trying to build itself into a football power who will never get the respect and money in the ACC they could get elsewhere.
Clemson is more attractive to the Big 12 than the other volunteers to join the conference, those being Louisville of the Big East, who fought hard but lost out to West Virginia, and Georgia Tech.Â Georgia Tech would get games for the Big 12 elite in the Georgia Dome, the chance of a conference title game there every other year, and at least some kind of footprint in SEC territory.Â Past that, Georgia Tech doesn’t really off much in the way of sports, and it never has, but it does offer the “academics” to some extent Presidents andÂ Trustee’s like.
Texas Athletic Director DeLoss Dodds, long considered the de facto commander of the Big 12, has said he is not in favor of expansion…..yet has been courting Notre Dame for a couple of years now.Â Notre Dame needs a home for its non football sports and needs to make a final choice regarding its football independence, but would, along with Florida State, be a massive coup for a conference finally shedding its image as a de-stablized version of the Big 8 with some Southwest Conference refugees mixed in.
So up to the middle of last week, we thought we had things pretty well sorted out.Â The Big 12 would definitely want Florida State, and then was looking at Clemson, Georgia Tech, and Louisville for even numbers, with a pipe dream to snatch Notre Dame in all sports.
Then the latest, and perhaps most telling developments about the future of the ACC came down the pipe. Sources within the Big 12 indicate â€œfeelersâ€ have came from Virgina Tech, Miami, and Virginia about coming to the conference. North Carolina may be leaning toward begging its way into the SEC, and the SEC is reportedly looking secretly at Virginia Tech.Â All the appropriate people at these schools quickly tried to shoot down the rumors, but we all know conference re-alignment deals are not made in the open. They are made in late night gatherings after clandestine flights in small planes from strange places.Â Athletic Directors and Presidents don’t have power in these deals, the Boards of Regents do, and to some extent the fans. (Good time to mention poll numbers indicate 96% of FSU fans want to come to the Big 12).
So what does this leave us for the Big 12 if it all played out this way?Â Lets take a look:
Big 12 Eastern Division
Texas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, TCU, Oklahoma State, Baylor, Kansas State
Big 12 Western Division
West Virginia, Florida State, Clemson, Miami, Georgia Tech, Kansas, Iowa State
This would put the Big 12 at 14, as I don’t see the SEC passing on Virgina Tech’s football power and North Carolina’s basketball power to move to 16 teams.Â Still don’t see the hard-heads at Notre Dame giving up their football independence either.
Pretty exciting, and worth a hell of a lot of money to the TV people.Â Will it go down this way?Â Who knows, but again, its exciting to look at.
I’ll close with a reminder of the biggest rule in Conference Re-Alignment. If you’re a day behind on news, you might as well be out of the loop.Â Stay tuned to Horn Sports for the latest information as it comes.
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