Talk about Florida State and the Big 12 has mostly been an unsubstantiated rumor for months, and several sources fueled local media reports that the league hadn't even considered the Seminoles as a possible future member.
However, in wake of the ACC's new media deal with ABC/ESPN which is expected to fetch less than the Big 12's new pending deal, Florida State is making itself very hard for the Big 12 to ignore.
"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. We have to do what is in Florida State's best interest," Florida State Board of Trustees chairman Andy Haggard told Warchant.com.
Haggard was disappointed the conference controlled third-tier TV rights for football, but universities held them for basketball. It's more evidence, Haggard said, of the conference favoring the North Carolina-based basketball schools like North Carolina and Duke. However, an ACC spokesman said ESPN controlled the rights for both football and basketball, and that Haggard was mistaken.
As for the academic side of the debate, Haggard says leaving the ACC, a conference much stronger academically than the Big 12, wouldn't be a big factor.
"No FSU graduate puts on his résumé or interviews for a job saying they are in the same conference as Duke and Virginia," he said. "Conference affiliation really has no impact on academics."
So what's it all mean?
Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher told the Orlando Sentinel he's open to a conference move.
"There have been no official talks, but I think you always have to look out there to see what's best for Florida State," Fisher said. "If that [jumping to the Big 12] is what's best for Florida State, then that's what we need to do."
Writes the Sentinel's Mike Bianchi:
Late Saturday, though, FSU president Dr. Eric Barron issued a statement in regard to the uproar that was fueled by discussion of the ACC's new TV contract:
"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."
Still, if we've learned anything in recent years about institutions of higher earning switching conferences, it is this: Without fail, they all say they are steadfastly committed to their current league only until another league offers them more money.
The Kansas City Star's Blair Kerkhoff says the Big 12 should prick its ears up and pay attention to the restless comments wafting into Big 12 country from Tallahassee.
Even if Haggard’s anger is based on a false notion, Florida State to the Big 12 was being rumored before the latest public comments, largely the stuff of message board speculation.
A source close to the conference told The Star this week that no realignment conversations had taken place between the Big 12 and any other school since the introduction of Bob Bowlsby as commissioner last week.
But the Big 12’s expansion committee, made up of athletic directors and presidents, has not been disbanded.
The rumor is still in its beginning stages, and Florida State's football program has been down since playing in BCS games six times between 1998 and 2005.
Still, the Seminoles are a commanding national brand in the game, and the Big 12 would be silly if it didn't at least offer serious attention to the situation from the South.
Louisville's been assumed as the school at the top of the Big 12's expansion list if it moved beyond a 10-team league. If Florida State's rumblings become serious, that would have to change.