Used to show Big XII country, not an endorsement of the proposed 16-team league. via i691.photobucket.com
I've seen a lot of discussion about how the potential move to the Big XII would impact Florida State's travel. There are many angles from which this can be examined including team travel, non big-three travel, and fan travel. Today I'll look at the latter, and specifically football travel.
One thing I've picked up in this debate is that people are calculating the difference in distance between Tallahassee and the ACC rivals and Tallahassee and the potential new Big XII rivals. And they conclude that a move to the Big XII would take away the ability for FSU fans to drive to road games.
But that's not a realistic look at things, as Tallahassee is not the home of most who go to Florida State games. In fact, there are many more Seminoles in Tampa/St. Pete, Miami/Ft. Lauderdale, Orlando and Jacksonville. And probably Atlanta.
Miami to Raleigh (home of N.C. State, where FSU plays every other year as they are a division opponent) is a 13-hour drive according to Google Maps. St. Pete to Clemson is a 10-hour drive. Jacksonville to Maryland is a 13-hour drive. Orlando to Winston-Salem is a 10-hour drive. And that's all without stops or traffic.
The bottom line is that most Florida State fans attending the division road games in football are already flying.
Atlanta and Tallahassee 'Noles might drive a few of those, but certainly not most. And remember that while Atlanta and Tallahassee 'Noles may drive to Clemson, they likely have to fly to Miami.
Games against the other division only happen once every five years (at UNC, at Georgia Tech, at Virginia, at Duke, at Virginia Tech). And again, most 'Noles are flying to those games, not driving.
The other half of the equation is the potential destinations involved. Florida State isn't making this move in a vacuum. If this does happen, the Big XII will go to 12, 14 or 16 teams. 12 is the absolute minimum so that the conference can host the Big XII title game once again.
Which means if this happens FSU will have company. And the company they'll have is good news for FSU fans, as the teams most often rumored are Clemson and Miami -- the two most likely driving games for most FSU fans.
In a 12-team league, the East Division would probably be FSU, ACC team (Clemson or Miami), West Virginia, Kansas, Kansas State, Iowa State. Which means Florida State fans would still be flying.
There's an argument to be made that the West Virginia/Kansas/Kansas State/Iowa State set is tougher to fly to than the Boston College/Maryland/Wake Forest/N.C. State set. That's likely true.
But just as I mentioned above that trips to Blacksburg, Charlottesville, Chapel Hill and Raleigh-Durham only occur twice a decade, the same would be true for trips to Waco (Baylor), Lubbock (Texas Tech), Austin (Texas), Fort Worth (TCU), Norman (Oklahoma) and Stillwater (Oklahoma State), because those schools are almost certain to be in the other division is this thing goes down.
Are places like Lubbock and Waco annoying, difficult or expensive to fly into? Absolutely, but anyone who looked for Virginia Tech flights recently knows how expensive it can be to fly into Charlottesville or Richmond.
The total travel impact here really depends on which other schools make the jump, and specifically Miami. If FSU goes to the Big XII without Miami, I'm not sure if Florida State would continue to play Florida and Miami in the non conference. And you know the 'Noles aren't dropping the game with Florida. I'm not saying there's no way FSU would continue to play both should the 'Noles leave and the 'Canes stay, but it seems likely that FSU fans would lose one of their drive-able games, and a rivalry.
But that also depends on whether the new Big XII would play eight or nine conference games, and at this point all of this is way too speculative and a discussion for another day.
Most FSU fans will be flying to the conference games regardless of whether FSU stays in the ACC or goes to the Big XII.
But there is certainly one group that will suffer: students.
While FSU alumni are spread out all over the state, the students are clustered in Tallahassee. And while most alumni aren't taking off Friday to embark on an 8-hour+ drive, students often have no problem skipping class and making the road trip. Many of them cannot afford to take many (any?) flights to see road games, though with the cost of gas, the difference between driving and flying doesn't seem quite the chasm that it once was.
There's a lot of things to think about here, and your opinion on the travel matter likely depends on where you reside and your bank account.
Be sure to check back throughout the day and the coming weeks for more on conference expansion and Florida State's potential move to the Big XII or leverage play against the ACC.