There are a lot of names being thrown around when it comes to the schools the Big 12 will go after if and when it tries to expand, which might cause another wave of massive realignment in college football. BYU, currently independent and Florida State, the crown jewel of the ACC, stand high above the rest as the two programs the conference would most like to add.
The Florida State rumors have been going on for quite some time. While they’re not exactly a perfect fit culturally and geographically, it’s hard to find another program as big and successful as this one which doesn’t seem to be too attached to where they are right now. The 2013 BCS national champions and undefeated for over two years, the Seminoles are the best thing in football for the ACC, and losing them would be a huge blow.
However, the money from the Big 12 isn’t going to be a lot better or at all. The ACC has been expanding rapidly over the last three years. Suddenly losing the Seminoles doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense, even if there’s a lot more football quality in the Big 12. Come to think of it, maybe if Florida State would have been beating up on Big 12 teams and not the “chumps” from their current conference, their reputation, ranking and eventually playoff placement wouldn’t have been in jeopardy all year long.
Right now these are only fantasies (nothing has been heard on the matter since 2013), probably on both sides. Florida State did finish undefeated and did make it into the playoff. As of now, although the Big 12 look ready for starting to expand their conference because frankly, they don’t have much of a choice, it’s hard seeing anyone leaving the ACC right now. Florida State have a lot to give to the Big 12 – TV market and the fertile Florida recruiting grounds, but there isn’t too much waiting for them by switching conferences.
The more likely university to go after is also a bit of a stretch culturally and geographically: BYU. The Cougars play in a stadium of over 61,000 in capacity, have a national championship in their past, are invested in more than one sport and bring a very big local TV market (as in local it’s not just Provo, but the entire state) and generally national interest from Mormons. Is playing on Sunday or getting around that such a big problem?
It depends on who you ask, but when a program switches to a different conference, it’s more than just the football that moves, although the reasons are almost always about that. A lot of other varsity sports are played on Sundays, which simply won’t fly at BYU. Playing on other nights and days might cause some scheduling problems considering that their campus isn’t exactly close to anyone else. Expanding West might mean another problem considering West Virginia are already feeling a bit left out due to distances their players have to travel. There’s also the rumor of BYU wanting Oklahoma to sign a contract to assure everyone they’re not bolting somewhere else.
There are plenty of names that are easier to get (smaller conferences) or closer to home: Air Force and Colorado State, Central Florida, Houston, Marshall, Cincinnati, Memphis, East Carolina, Memphis or even SMU. All with pros and cons. Boise State would be a great addition, but have a lot of problems that might get in the way as well: Academics, distance and doing poorly outside of football. Cincinnati and Memphis might be the “reasonable” and logical options.
But since when are decisions based solely on logic? Being left out of the Playoff despite two teams with just one loss will drive the Big 12 to make changes. They might be small at first and might include simply getting an OK from the NCAA to have a championship game despite having just 10 schools. Eventually, with the NCAA conceding power to the big conferences, looking to eventually become completely independent, expansion is something the Big 12 will have to go through with.