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Clemson head football coach Dabo Swinney might be mathematically challenged, but one thing he’s not is wishy-washy. In recent comments made by Swinney to the media about the long-swirling rumors of potential Big 12 interest on the part of Clemson, Swinney came out with a direct statement of support for the school’s current conference home in the ACC.
"I think there has been a lot of irresponsible blogging and reporting whatever you want to call it," Swinney said. "We live in this world (where) somebody hears something from the guy in the third stall down and it’s like, ‘OK it’s fact.’ It’s so far from reality it’s not even funny. We’re 1,000 percent committed to the ACC."
Swinney also called the move the “worst thing” the school could do, according to Travis Sawchik’s Post & Courier report. Of course, the coach will not have much input one way or the other about this, and he’s supposed to hold the line at this point. Still, when a school is committed at 1,000 percent, well, what else can they do?
It wasn't too long ago that the head of the Board of Trustees for Florida State was speaking out about potential interest in joining the Big 12. Now Andy Haggard has been replaced from his position. If you think that's a coincidence, well, you're entitled to your opinion. The university announced today that Allen Bense is now the new chair and Haggard has been let go.
Allen Bense of Panama City is now the new #FSU board of trustee chair. Andy Haggard is now done.— Coley Harvey (@os_coleyharvey) June 8, 2012
Bense is an alum of FSU for both his undergraduate and graduate work and served for several years in the Florida House of Representatives.
Previously Haggard had spoken out on multiple occasions about the need to look into a new potential conference home for the Seminoles.
"How do you not look into that option? On behalf of the Board of Trustees I can say that unanimously we would be in favor of seeing what the Big 12 might have to offer," Haggard said. "We have to do what is in Florida State's best interest."
It will be interesting to see how Bense speaks of the same rumors and whether or not the tone of university communication changes.
Big 12 expansion has been a hot topic in recent weeks. What is the impact on Kansas if the league looks to the East and expands to 12, 14 or even 16 teams.
Depending on those moves at the greater NCAA level concerning bowl games and a playoff system, conferences will then either stay the same or begin to shift in power to adjust to the new postseason structure in college football.
At this point, it's impossible to tell who speaks for the Big 12. Bob Bowlsby is the brand new permanent commissioner who refuses to take the podium prior to his official start on June 15. Chuck Neinas is the lame duck commissioner on the way out. DeLoss Dodds is, well, the one Athletic Director with the biggest belt buckle of all. Perhaps it's that Texas sway that allows him to speak on behalf of everyone else.
As for his latest comments, Dodds is taking it upon himself to speak publicly about the Big 12 expansion rumors and the possible schools it could include. He gave a quick pat on the back to Florida State while commenting on the state of any rumored negotiations:
Dodds on Fla. St.: "Great program, great tradition, they’re good members of the ACC; there’s been no conversation between them and us."— John E. Hoover (@johnehoover) May 31, 2012
That's pretty much what everyone is hearing at this point -- that if there's interest, there's been no official movement on either side. However, it's interesting here that Dodds is using this chance to speak before Bowlsby can get into office. Bowlsby already came out with a firm stance that he wasn't going to be bullied by any Texas power play within the Big 12 and Dodds is apparently calling him on it, albeit in an indirect way.
As for the rumors, it doesn't hurt that Dodds is at least speaking highly of Florida State and even giving the ACC some kudos. At this point, it would hurt more if he were stoking the fire instead of putting it out.
For the latest on Big 12 expansion, be sure to check back at SB Nation Kansas City all summer long.
The Big 12 meetings are underway in Kansas City, and despite a whirlwind of rumors in recent weeks regarding conference expansion, it looks, at least publicly, like the conference is happy with its 10 current members.
Neinas "The #Big12 Athletic Directors reaffirmed their commitment to 10 members."— Big 12 Conference (@Big12Conference) May 30, 2012
Neinas, who is the acting Big 12 commissioner until Bob Bowlsby takes over in June, has been on record saying that bigger does not equal better in terms of conference expansion.
It's not too surprising that Neinas came out and said this publicly, as he is likely looking to quell rumors that began over a month ago. Florida State, Miami, Georgia Tech, Clemson and Notre Dame have all been rumored through various sources to have interest in joining the Big 12.
As of today, it looks like the Big 12 doesn't quite reciprocate that interest. Things could easily change over the summer, and really, the rumors likely will continue to be produced over the summer, but as of now, the Big 12 is happy with its current 10 members.
For the latest on Big 12 expansion, be sure to check back at SB Nation Kansas City all summer long.
As the Big 12 spring meetings get underway this week in Kansas City, there are a myriad of subjects that will be broached by those in attendance. Only one will likely be focused upon to any great degree: possible conference expansion. As rumors run rampant connecting several schools to the Big 12, the conference first has to decide if they’re even up for increasing from its current number of 10 schools.
If they do decide that expansion is the answer, speculation will run rampant about ACC schools in particular. Miami, Clemson and Florida State have all been named as possible candidates, but the only one even leaving a possibility open at this point in terms of public comment is Clemson. Clemson board chairman David Wilkins recently left the door open with a statement.
“We’ve not had any contact from any league,” Wilkins said.. “If we receive a viable option, a viable proposal, that is presented to us by any league, we will consider it.”
Other schools are taking a we’re-confident-in-the-ACC approach that still doesn’t necessarily mean anything one way or the other. However, it’s interesting that Clemson is at least open to the suggestion and acknowledging that movement is a real possibility.
The first step will be the Big 12’s willingness to open its doors or leave them shut. Much of that will be discussed by the conference powers-that-be this week.
If you ask former Fighting Irish players, the Notre Dame football program is just fine in its independence. The common response seems to be denial to any notion that the team might join the Big 12 (or any other conference for that matter) despite rumors to the contrary.
When asked about the chances of Notre Dame joining the Big 12, current Kansas City Chiefs quarterback and ND alum Brady Quinn didn’t even think there was a remote possibility of the Fighting Irish making a move now or in the future.
“No chance,” said Quinn. “I mean, we play the toughest schedule in the country this year. Why would we change that, you know? And we played some Big 12 teams. So I think the tradition is to remain independent. I hope they always do. And that way, every team we play is a BCS team. Our strength of schedule is always there, always has been. And that’s the way we like it.”
The sentiment was repeated by other players as well.
“Notre Dame is a national team,” said fellow Notre Dame grad and Chiefs defensive back Kyle McCarthy. “We’re a national team. We recruit nationally. We don’t have a specific geographic area that we feel that we need to play in.”
The Big 12 is in the best position of any major football conference to make a move. The recent agreement for a New Year’s Day bowl game with the SEC links it with the most powerful conference in college athletics and it now boasts a highly competitive conference with stability in new commissioner Bob Bowlsby and national attention with great financial payouts due to TV deals recently negotiated.
Given how things are expected to continue to change over the next year, many schools are rumored to be interested in the Big 12 with some publicly posturing for it. From Cincinnati and Louisville to Florida State and Clemson, the number of potential candidates mentioned have been startling — whether it’s true or not. Given its independence, Notre Dame will always be mentioned in these sorts of conversations.
For now, however, it seems that there’s no truth to any rumor linking Notre Dame to the Big 12.
While the rumors are running rampant that everyone from Clemson and Florida State to Miami and Notre Dame might be interested in possibly joining the Big 12, the reality is that the conference itself hasn’t even stated that it’s interested in moving beyond anything in the current 10-team structure that it has. With the losses of Texas A&M and Missouri to the SEC, the conference made moves to gain West Virginia and TCU. It’s a selection of teams that everyone in power — new commissioner Bob Bowlsby and interim Chuck Neinas — insist they are fine with.
Yet the move to bring the Big 12 and the SEC together with a bowl partnership in recent weeks has brought speculation that the two conferences will become the new powers in college football, which likely means that schools will try to jump on the Big 12 side of things given their current size of 10 versus the SEC’s 14.
“People have to understand that bigger is not necessarily better,” Neinas said. “What we are trying to do, in view of what has transpired in the past, is to build unity. We have two new members. Let the membership be comfortable with each other before they ever consider going forward.
“We’ve taken care of the contentious issues. We have a very workable solution. Let’s build on that, then down the road maybe think of expansion. But to automatically run off and say, they’re going to go to 12 or 14 or whatever — that does not take into account where this conference was, where we’ve come from and where we need to go.”
It’s interesting that Neinas continues to speak at all for the conference when he’s clearly on his way out and this will be Bowlsby’s fight to take on. Yet Bowlsby will have to adjust to the job and all of that takes time. It’s likely that while rumors continue to churn, the reality will be the same as it is now in one or even three months from now.
Notre Dame is everyone’s favorite partner to court when it comes to major conference realignment talks. The reason is the school holds a national brand and incredible tradition in the most important (read: money-making) sport of all: football. Despite the lack of success over the last decade or more, the Notre Dame brand is alive and well, and there’s not a conference in the country that wouldn’t want to add the Fighting Irish.
That said, the Big 12 has been the conference most connected over time to Notre Dame with the Big Ten also in play. Year after year, however, Notre Dame maintains its independence and doesn’t seem remotely interested in partnering up with its college football program. In fact, Jack Swarbrick, the school’s athletic director even went so far recently as to bolster his confidence publicly in the Big East.
“I have great confidence in it," said Swarbrick. "I think the atmosphere reflected here, the focus on the future leadership of the conference are all steps towards that, the work that was done to replace the departing members. So that’s all good stuff. You know I don’t think there’s any reason to not be optimistic about their future.”
It’s an interesting statement about the school’s conference for all other sports, and it’s one that Swarbrick has to make at this point. But it’s clear the Big East is hardly “big” compared to other conferences, and the game of musical chairs about to be played could further distance conferences between each other in terms of money, sway and competition.
As much tradition as Notre Dame has, it also has to think seriously about the future. There’s more money than ever, and the tide is shifting dramatically these next few years (as it has in the last few).
Will they or won't they? Rumors continue to swirl regarding the Big 12 and potential additions of Florida State and Clemson. Yet officials from both schools continue to deny any connection or communication between the current ACC universities and the Big 12.
That said, a new interview out at TigerNet with Clemson Athletic Director Terry Don Phillips does shed some insight on the mindset he says that ACC teams have at this point. He definitely doesn't admit to anything linking Clemson to the Big 12. However he admits the importance of football above all else -- and that schools have to act accordingly.
"There are a lot of things that I or anybody can't control," said Phillips. "The only thing that I feel confident in saying is that I believe that the ACC understands the challenges that we have going forward that football is strong and gets stronger. We cannot afford to lose our seat at the table when it comes to the BCS and championships going forward. We simply cannot afford to allow that to happen. The conference and the conference leadership, as well as the presidents, understand the importance that has to be placed on football going forward."
If the schools make the move to the Big 12, it will because of this pressures and realities identified in this statement. There's more money at the table in the Big 12, and the recent partnership with the SEC only solidifies the Big 12's standing among other conferences. The ACC? The conference is definitely at a crossroads.
It will be interesting to see what statements continue to come out in either direction. At the very least, there's an admission here that if a situation that's clearly better for a school develops, then the ACC is aware they have to take it.
The Florida St. Seminoles have been sending out mixed messages from the higher ups within the school about whether the school is committed to the ACC or if they are looking to leave and possibly join the Big 12. The latest report about Florida State's conference future comes from ChuckOliver.net which is reporting that the move is going to happen:
According to two people with the strongest ties possible to Florida State's Athletic Department, FSU fully plans on exiting the Atlantic Coast Conference. Florida State will begin its transition to the Big 12 Conference beginning this June. One source went as far as to say, "at this point the move is inevitable."
This report does come a fairly obscure website, so the validity of the report does come into question here. Plus other more established reporters have come out and said that the Big 12 schools are not all sold on expansion.
Dave Sittler of the Tulsa World is reporting that the Big 12 is still split on the idea of expanding:
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
Then there is Chip Brown of OrangeBloods.com who says that he has spoken to Big 12 officials who say nothing is done, which is not surprising and it does not mean that they are working on adding other schools. The main point in Brown's article is that those saying Florida State, Clemson or Notre Dame are definitely joining the Big 12 have it wrong:
In short, anyone saying Notre Dame, Florida State or Clemson are done deals are talking to people with wishful thinking or relying on second or third-hand information from people with wishful thinking.
Depending on the report one believes the Big 12 is definitely adding Florida State, or that the league is not even sure on if they want to add more teams. So for now, we all just wait to see what happens.
Incoming Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby says he will remain vigilant in regards to conference expansion.
Florida State President Eric Barron insists the rumors are ridiculous. Now someone from the Big 12's side is saying the same. In short, both sides of a rumored relationship between the Big 12 and Florida State are coming out saying everything you've heard is incorrect.
But one story getting lost in the shuffle is who is doing the talking. Note the following:
Texas AD DeLoss Dodds says there "have been no conversations" between Big 12 and Florida State.— kbohls (@kbohls) May 14, 2012
DeLoss Dodds? Why is he saying a word? The Big 12 just brought in Bob Bowlsby to helm the conference as their new long-term commissioner after Chuck Neinas' tenure was finished. Bowlsby answered questions publicly when he was recently introduced about Texas and its pull in the conference. His reponse?
"I guess I would just suggest that you do a little more homework on me," Bowlsby said. "I haven't been very good at being a puppet over the years."
In short, the shove from Bowlsby to Texas officials was felt and they wanted to use this chance to publicly push back. Instead of allowing Bowlsby and his staff from conference headquarters to speak up about the expansion rumors, Dodds took it on himself to speak on behalf of the conference. Again, another reason to believe that Texas runs things despite statements made to the contrary.
It will be interesting to see in coming weeks just who says what coming out of the Big 12 and whether or not Bowlsby has any more public posturing in store for the Longhorns. If Bowlsby thought he could set the record straight at his presser and have that be the end of it, he's a bit less prepared than believed for the job.
After short statements, deflective comments and rampant rumors, the President of Florida State University has released a comprehensive response to the buzz around the school’s potential interest in a move to the Big 12. It’s a move on FSU’s part to frame the conversation.
Eric Barron released a complete letter through Sports Illustrated for the public to realize the complete position of the university. Here’s one particular part, perhaps most important, about the monetary discrepancy between the Big 12 and ACC payouts:
Much is being made of the extra $2.9M that the Big 12 contract (which hasn’t been inked yet) gets over the ACC contract. Given that the Texas schools are expected to play each other (the Big 12 is at least as Texas centered than the ACC is North Carolina centered), the most likely scenario has FSU playing Kansas, Kansas State, Iowa State, and West Virginia on a recurring basis and the other teams sporadically (and one more unnamed team has to join to allow the Big 12 to regain a championship game), we realize that our sports teams can no longer travel by bus to most games the estimate is that the travel by plane required by FSU to be in the Big 12 appears to exceed the $2.9M difference in the contract actually giving us fewer dollars than we have now to be competitive with the Big 12 teams, who obviously do not have to travel as far. Any renegotiated amount depends not just on FSU but the caliber of any other new team to the Big 12.
You can find the complete statement here.
Several months ago, the names thrown around included Cincinnati, Louisville and Brigham Young among others? Now it's Clemson and Florida State. While the Big 12 lost Missouri and Texas A&M while gaining TCU and West Virginia, the conference was also dealing with perceived issues of stability. Not anymore. Instead, the conference is positioning itself as an inviting place to be -- and certain programs like Louisville are already jockeying for position.
Bryan Fischer of CBS Sports recently looked through the fog of rumors and came up with his favorites. He believes that Florida State and Louisville are at the top list of contenders and if the Big 12 is going to expand, it will start with those names.
Personally, I think if the media money is there, the Big 12 grabs FSU and Louisville. And by "media money," I mean if ESPN/Fox are ok w/it.— Bryan Fischer (@BryanDFischer) May 14, 2012
Not buying the Clemson talk at all, either. They may want it on their end to some degree but don't think the B12 does.— Bryan Fischer (@BryanDFischer) May 14, 2012
Everything is only a rumor at this point, but remember that last year Missouri to SEC rumors were abounding at the same rate. It starts with a fire and proceeds from there. The Big 12 is the most obvious conference to expand and a solid base of 10 gives them room to add one to four schools as they see fit.
Fans will cry out the sake of tradition. They will try to name the rivalries, the history, the "way things work" as reasons why a school should not jump from one conference to another. The statements were made when Missouri was being courted by the SEC, and now it can be heard from Florida State fans wondering about a possible move to the Big 12.
The ACC would definitely lose a major asset if FSU were to leave for the Big 12, but at this point it's clear that Florida State's athletic budget is too small for the conference they currently inhabit. Despite cries against such a move, the reality is that money has the final say in today's college athletics -- like it or not.
Just this month, Florida State acknowledged it may be forced to cut $2.4 million from its 2012-13 athletic budget, in part because of lagging ticket sales in football. So if you're Florida State, what do you do?
You're a football school competing in what will always be a basketball conference. You're surrounded by mega-wealthy SEC members, including rival Florida, that spend more than you can. And you're looking at taking in less TV revenue than Vanderbilt for the foreseeable future.
While university officials are paid to keep things under wraps and stay the course in public quotes, it's interesting to see the level of openness given by some from head coach Jimbo Fisher to recent statements from President Eric Barron.
Something is going to have to happen at Florida State. Either they will love their traditions and swallow budget cuts to make it happen or they will make a move that will frustrate the fan base but pay their constituents. In this economy, tradition typically doesn't stand a chance.
The saying reads “Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.” But in the 24/7 sports news cycle, there’s often a lot of smoke thrown out there by media types trying to get a leg up on the competition and create some news where there isn’t any. Thus, it’s easy to believe either side about Florida State’s reported interest in joining the Big 12.
The ACC currently holds two of the biggest acquisitions the Big 12 could make in Clemson and Florida State. Both schools would add great markets for the Big 12 to reach into as well as schools with great fan bases and tradition.
Yet the word from Florida State is mixed at this time, with some quotes trying to quell the rumors while others open the door slightly. The latest word from FSU President Eric Barron reads like the latter:
Florida State University regrets that misinformation about the provisions of the ACC contract has unnecessarily renewed the controversy and speculation about University’s athletic conference alignment. Florida State respects the views of the Chair of its Board of Trustees that, of course, any university would examine options that would impact university academics, athletics or finances. At the same time, Florida State is not seeking an alternative to the ACC nor are we considering alternatives. Our current commitments remain strong.
If you are truly committed to the ACC, then there’s no need to place a line in that statement about being open to options. That’s what a commitment is — despite the options. To say words about a commitment being strong right after saying you’re open to options is to lie about one side or the other. Given the rest of the smoke, it’s not hard to guess where this is going.
Now that the Big 12 has named its permanent commissioner in Bob Bowlsby after months of interim leadership from Chuck Neinas, the question now inevitably turns to: what now? Expansion is the topic du jour and the universities named like Clemson and Florida State are rather impressive compared to those previously rumored like CIncinnati or Louisville.
As the Big 12 proceeds forward this season with new additions like TCU and West Virginia, the league has stated again and again that they are fine with 10 members. But power conferences must continue to look at keeping up with the Joneses and the SEC begins this year with 14 — including former Big 12 members Missouri and Texas A&M.
Florida State in particular is an intriguing candidate to transfer given its current financial woes. The school must cut $2.4 million from its athletic department budget this year, and the Big 12’s new money deal outshines the new ACC TV deal by several million per school. Add that up over the life of the contract, and a school would have to give up a lot of money for the sake of tradition. Is it worth it?
Thus far, FSU has been successful on the field and the court, but they can’t seem to make enough money. Chip Brown takes it even further.
“Combine this success on the field with the fact Florida State’s basketball arena and football stadium are in desperate need of renovation, and the Seminoles are probably taking a hard look at the ability to launch their own TV network in the Big 12,” writes Brown. “Even with the new money from the ACC-ESPN contract, expected to provide an additional $4 million per year in revenue, Florida State is going to be hard-pressed to raise the kind of money needed for a major facility upgrade.”
From the Big 12’s perspective, they would likely want another school to enter into the conference so it wasn’t a lopsided 11, which is where Clemson comes into play. Both schools would bring strong football programs as well as new audiences and markets for recruiting — making both schools major assets in possible expansion. If Bowlsby could oversee such acquisitions, he would immediately make his mark as the new commish.
For a short season, there was a bit of panic about the state of the Big 12. As the major conferences shifted pieces like a board game, the Big 12 was seemingly left in the cold. The news of programs like Texas A&M and Missouri heading for the greener (read: money) passages of the SEC only seemed to create a distance between conferences once considered on equal ground. If the Big 12 couldn't compete with the power conferences of the future, were others destined to jump ship as well?
Enter Chuck Neinas, the interim commissioner who oversaw the successful steadying of the conference and the addition of West Virginia and TCU to bring the conference back to 10 schools. Now that Neinas' interim tenure has ended and a permanent commissioner recently named -- Stanford's Bob Bowlsby -- the Big 12 seems destined for great things.
"I never questioned the stability," Texas coach Rick Barnes said recently. "The anchors were always the ones that wanted to keep it together -- Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas. I know our AD [DeLoss Dodds] never wavered on keeping the league together. We're very comfortable with where it is right now."
Bowlsby's record and the Big 12's ability to weather the storm should prove to be a very successful combination. The conference is poised geographically to grab from nearly anywhere it wants in the future to add to its programs. It's the power conference in men's college basketball at this point, and they are still power players in the college football landscape as well.
While it's not nearly as hot of a topic as it was before, the conference will likely make a move to 12 teams in the near future once its new leader is settled in and that stability becomes an appealing platform for other schools.
Read more about about this story as it develops at our StoryStream.
It didn’t take long for Bob Bowlsby to address the bigger issues facing the Big 12 as he takes over as commissioner after Chuck Neinas served in an interim role during a tenuous time. As the Big 12 faces competition from bigger conferences like the SEC, the possibility of expansion is going to be something many ask him about — and it’s something he says it an “ongoing consideration” as he heads into the job.
The conference lost Texas A&M and Missouri to the SEC coming up for the 2012-13 season, but they gained TCU and West Virginia. Still the conference is ripe for further expansion from its current 10-team format, especially as others beef up to 14 or more teams. Bowlsby addressed it from his introductory press conference:
“Expansion will be an ongoing consideration for us. I haven’t had the opportunity to talk with all of the presidents about this issue, and I haven’t had the opportunity to talk to all but a couple of the athletic directors. I certainly am not going to presume a direction that we will go. I think, though, as you consider expansion, it has to be expansion that has, as its roots, the enhancement of the league.”
Some have mentioned schools like BYU and Louisville in the recent past as potential expansion possibilities. For now the talk has been quelled, but expect it to rise as the college football season comes nearer.
Newly hired Big 12 Conference commissioner Bob Bowlsby has quite a bit of work to do in trying to stabilize a league that has seen all sorts of cosmetic changes over the past couple of years.
But Bowlsby is taking the challenge in stride, obviously, with his statement following his hiring.
"I am proud to have been selected to lead the Big 12 Conference as its Commissioner," Bowlsby said in a statement. "The member institutions represent the best in competitive intercollegiate athletics and they occupy a prominent place in the history of sports in America. I am excited to work with a very talented and committed group of Presidents and Chancellors to advance the Conference on the national sports landscape. Additionally, the directors of athletics, senior woman's administrators, faculty athletics representatives, coaches and conference office staff are among the very best in the country. The future is exceedingly bright and I look forward to engaging with my colleagues to achieve great things in the years ahead."
Read more about about this story as it develops at our StoryStream.
The Big 12 on Wednesday named Bob Bowlsby, a nationally recognized and respected athletic administrator, to become the conference's new commissioner.
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