The Big 12 isn’t done yet, and as long as that’s the case, the internet rumor-mill will grind away on the subject of expansion and potential conference realignment.
This week’s most tantalizing rumor has to do with Clemson, Florida State and the Big 12.
A ‘report’ saying that the Big 12 is cooling its heels while awaiting the Tigers and Seminoles to jump leagues surfaced last week on a blog covering West Virginia athletics, and then was re-blogged on LeatherHelmet.com, out of Athens.
There is no shred of evidence presented to support the notion that it’s anything more than groundless speculation. But it got some Clemson and FSU fans a bit excited nonetheless.
Enthusiasm among rank-and-file fans for the addition of Syracuse and Pittsburgh to the ACC seems underwhelming – especially in light of ACC commissioner John Swofford’s announcement last week that the conference will move to a nine-game league schedule, with Syracuse joining the Atlantic Division and Pittsburgh the Coastal Division as every-season opponents.
Faced with the prospect of trading even the occasional home-and-home series against Georgia or Auburn for a yearly date with Syracuse and a bi-annual trek to the Canadian border, many football-focused Clemson fans are starting to feel even more-than-usual like the Tigers have become a fish out of water.
And since geographical proximity means nothing anymore (when Colorado is in the Pac-12 and TCU is, or was, in the Big East), the idea of the Tigers and the Seminoles matching up against Texas, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, or getting another shot at West Virginia, is, frankly, deliciously enticing.
Chances are, it ain’t gonna happen.
Speaking yesterday about the current state of the Big 12 – currently at 10 teams with the coming of West Virginia and TCU and the going of Texas A&M and Missouri - Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds tossed out the names of BYU and Louisville as likely targets, while openly pining for an encouraging glance from Notre Dame – the object of every conference’s lustful imagination.
No mention of Tigers, Seminoles or anyone in the Southeast.
ACC officials, meanwhile, continue to put a brave face on what they’ve gotten themselves into with their expansion push deeper into the Northeast.
At least that’s one way to look at it.
Another way, is that the ACC-powers-that-be are truly satisfied with their work; and if you’re looking at things from a basketball perspective, adding the likes of Syracuse and Pitt indeed looks like sound business.
Earlier this week The Sports Business Journal reported that because of the addition of the Panthers and Orange, the ACC has been able to re-open its recently-signed contract with ESPN and negotiate an annual per-school payout increase of up to $2 million, which would push each school’s share from $13 million to nearly $15 million.
That would elevate the ACC to the level of the Big 12’s current TV contract, but still lags behind the SEC ($17 million) and the Big 10 and Pac-12 ($21 million), whose coffers have been richened by the success of their own in-house TV networks.
But those numbers are likely to change (not in the ACC’s favor) when the dust settles and other conferences renegotiate based on expansion.
These are strange and uncertain times, and there’s a lot to digest. Some of it is bound to be giving folks in Clemson and Tallahassee a bit of indigestion.