MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Just as the rumors of Florida State openly flirting with the Big XII were starting to subside, Texas Christian University athletic director Chris Del Conte has fanned the flames and added two more schools to the list of schools looking at the Big XII.
During a morning speech on the campus of Texas Tech University, Del Conte said that the once left for dead Big XII Conference “now has schools like Florida State, Clemson, and Miami trying to get in,” according to redraidersports.com.
Del Conte also appeared on a sports talk radio show later and said, “Let’s not rush into anything. We know expansion has to happen. It may not be for a while. We are in the catbird seat right now,” according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
While Florida State’s interest in the Big XII has been public knowledge, Del Conte’s words were the first official confirmation on the record that FSU had looked to get into the Big XII. But the addition of Miami may catch Hurricanes fans off guard.
When FSU and UM entered the Atlantic Coast Conference, the ACC was looking to boost its football reputation and at the time FSU and UM were two key programs.
But as both programs began to decline, so did the ACC’s importance on the national college football scene. It was evident for several years and the rest of the league, outside of Virginia Tech, never raised its level of play to FSU and UM’s reputation.
Since the schools joined the ACC, FSU remains the only team from the conference to play for the national championship in the BCS era.
FSU officials have denied any interest in the Big XII, but the chairman of the board and former players have said the school should very much listen to what the Big XII has to offer.
From the Big XII’s point of view, adding FSU and UM would be a coup that could seriously undercut the reigning college football powerhouse conference, the SEC. The Big XII would have a geographic footprint that could secure Florida television revenue and the fertile Florida recruiting grounds for Big XII schools.
For FSU and UM, they would join a conference that is considered one of the power conferences in the country and routinely a top football and men’s basketball conference. Plus, both schools would get more national exposure through television deals and get access to Texas recruiting.
Many FSU fans have made no secret that they are ready to leave the ACC behind. Clemson has long been joined to FSU in any expansion talk. But, if Del Conte is accurate, losing Florida State, Clemson and Miami would be a death blow in football to the ACC.
The ACC would then have to seriously consider raiding the Big East Conference again for teams to try to secure a spot as a power conference.
The Big XII, which was left for dead twice in the past few years, has now become the big dog on the block in college football that everyone seems to want. Whether any schools successfully convince the Big XII to expand is another ballgame.
The Big XII currently has 10 members including West Virginia and TCU. With a college football final four coming in just a year, the conference has no real need to expand and may actually be better off without having to stage a championship game.
But, as with everything else in the college realignment dance, it’s all about money.