You didn’t think we’d actually make it through another offseason without more talk of conference realignment, did you? Here are 10 expansion-heavy thoughts and observations to start your week off right.
1. After all the scoffing at the mere suggestion that Florida St. would even entertain the idea of leaving the ACC for the Big 12, college football pundits appeared shocked over the weekend when the head honcho of the school’s board of trustees suggested the Seminoles would re-evaluate their conference affiliation.
If you’re looking at the conference paradigm through the lens of the shifts we’ve witnessed in the last two years, FSU’s wandering eyes do seem odd. As a native of Big 12 country and an alum of a Big East school, I have no problem saying that the schools that have switched leagues in the first two rounds of expansion mania have all taken a step up in prestige. The Big 12, a marriage of convenience created fewer than 20 years ago, has lost teams to the tradition-rich Big Ten, SEC and Pac-12. Meanwhile, the stuffed shirts in the ACC nabbed Pittsburgh and Syracuse from the backwater Big East, which then shed West Virginia, a school with ACC ambitions of its own, to the Big 12.
In that sense, I realize that the Seminoles are going against the grain. Even so, an Oklahoma bumpkin like myself can’t help but laugh at all of the snobbery in questioning why FSU would want to leave the company of Tobacco Road to rub elbows with a bunch of hicks in flyover country.
2. Look, y’all, we’ve done this dance often enough lately to know how this works. It might ruffle some feathers in the ACC office, but FSU has nothing to lose by raising a ruckus.
The Seminoles haven’t won the league since 2005, but they still own the top football brand in the ACC – there’s a reason why we’re subjected to a deluge of “this is FSU’s year” articles every preseason. They’re in the fourth-largest state in the union. Bottom line: They have a ton of leverage over the rest of the league.
The risk of losing FSU leaves the ACC more exposed than Frank the Tank post-beer bong. Given their fiscal situation, letting everyone know they have options is how the ‘Noles maximize their position. Who knows, maybe the SEC will see the light?
3. In his interview with Warchant.com, Andy Haggard, chairman of FSU’s board of trustees, sounded like a dad who realized what the family’s membership at the ritzy country club was actually costing them. Make that a family whose mortgage is underwater.
Just the fact that you have an ACC membership doesn’t pay those bills.
Of course, you could argue that if money is a problem, Florida St. should worry more about getting its own house in order than finding an infusion of cash. As Gene Williams of Warchant.com points out, though, that doesn’t solve FSU’s “Gator problem.”
If the ‘Noles want to compete on an elite level nationally, they’re going to be going head to head with the folks from Gainesville for recruits. Really, all of the SEC schools recruit the Sunshine State pretty heavily. For now, FSU can compete for players, but what happens when the financial disparity between it and the SEC schools starts growing?
4. ESPN seems content to let the ACC die. In fact, the Worldwide Leader is begging FSU to jump ship.
ESPN knows what the Seminoles could get from the Big 12. If it was invested in keeping FSU in place, it wouldn’t have signed that crappy TV deal with the ACC.
ESPN also understands that an FSU exit would destabilize the conference to the point that just about any school not named North Carolina or Duke would be on the block.
5. Speaking of going on the block, Senator Blutarsky gets the award for best headline from the weekend’s events.
6. At this point, I still think the ACC and FSU work out some kind of arrangement to keep the ‘Noles in the fold. However, this will reach the point of no return if it’s not settled quickly, and they can’t really count on ESPN to swoop in and save the day.
7. The drudgery of the regular season all but turns baseball into background noise to me from Opening Day to October, but I can’t get enough of Josh Hamilton’s offensive barrage.
Hamilton has traveled to some dark places in his life. I try to avoid rooting for sports figures, because they inevitably let you down, but Hamilton is one guy I have no problem pulling for.
8. The best news of the weekend? The possibility that Twitter provocateur Rick Muscles and professional Tourette’s case Buzz Bissinger may hold a debate on the merits of college football in the near future.
9. I can honestly say that the Clippers’ win on Sunday is one of the most startling results I can recall.
It’s not that Memphis is some kind of juggernaut. In fact, everything about the previous six games in that series proved that the Grizzlies are exactly the kind of team that would lose that game.
But the Clip Show winning a seventh game in the NBA playoffs on the road? That’s like some apocalyptic shit, especially when you look at how badly Vinny Del Fuego and his crew botched the previous game.
Fact is, this Clippers team is actually pretty well-constructed. Chris Paul and Blake Griffin may get all the hype, but management has assembled some nice grinders like Caron Butler to surround their stars.
Unfortunately, the Spurs will hand them their heads. But, still, sweet season for one of the most hapless franchises in professional sports.
10. Here’s probably the best story I read all last week. People like this dude make me feel absolutely worthless – but in a good way, I guess.