I see conference realignment talk cluttering up the recruiting thread now, so apparently some people want to discuss it. But it shouldn't be discussed there, beyond I guess it's effect on recruiting.
Obviously, I don't know anything for sure, and we could be invited to the Pac 12 tomorrow for all anyone really knows, but I've had my ear to the ground, and I think the following truths are rather self-evident at this point.
- FSU is not joining the Big 12 unless the ACC implodes
- UVA seems to be in some sort of flirtation stage with the B1G, but GT and UNC are not in a hurry to bolt to the B1G
- The Big 12 has little interest in going beyond 12. They really only want FSU, but would take an FSU friend if they had to. FSU requires a group of 4-6, and even if there were 4-6 interested (and there aren't), the Big 12 is just not willing to go that far. Anything beyond adding FSU will decrease their per-school share, and apparently they are not interested in anything that reduces share.
- A more cynical person might also suggest, since it seems so obvious that a tiny population, 10-school, 2-brand, very regional conference clearly is not well positioned for the future, that maybe some important members aren't all that keen to guarantee the long-term future of the Big 12. A cynical person just might.
- The financial disparity between the Big 12 and the ACC may very well not be what many others were projecting (including me). They may very well pay essentially the same at this point. A lot of reasons for that, among them: moves the ACC has made since this talk started, apparent lack of interest in Big 12's tv partners in rewarding them for poaching the ACC, the playoffs not appearing to be stacked up to punish the ACC's recent weakness.
- The difference between the ACC and the Big 12 financially was never the problem, the problem was the deficit between the ACC and the SEC and B1G. It does not appear that the addition of FSU+1 substantially closes that gap if FSU joined the Big 12.
- As one of only two schools that could unilaterally blow up the ACC with it's exit, I suspect that FSU has decided that it's best bet is to stabilize the ACC enough so that if the B1G or SEC want an ACC school (and they do), they will have to come through FSU to get it. There is no scenario that FSU in the Big 12 is better than FSU in the SEC or B1G, so there is no reason for FSU not to slow play it.
- If that never happens, and FSU stays in the ACC as it stands today, I think FSU likes the upside of the ACC more than the upside of being the 11th member of the Big 12, based on recruiting grounds, population, and programs. Again, a six-school move probably changes that, but there simply isn't interest in that from either the Big 12 or potential moving partners. It's FSU+Miami to the Big 12 and stop, or play out options here.
Now, if the B1G pulls Virginia, then it's all open again, that's about all there is to watch now, unless the SEC warms to FSU to get VT. We're still staring at some serious revenue problems versus the SEC, and we'll know more about how bad it is when their network gets figured out an announced.
The ACC future isn't exactly rosy. There are some signs of hope, but there's no easy way to turn the tables right now vis a vis the SEC. But I don't think a move to the Big 12 can change that based on the current realities. I personally think if the ACC can stabilize, it probably needs to be thinking long term about options of actually going after Big 12 teams in the future to go to 20. After a lot of thought, I believe 20-team, not 16-team conferences are the future. But I don't think that's something on the immediate horizon.