Conference Realignment Rumors: Florida State To SEC?

According to a report in the Palm Beach Post, the rumors of Florida State becoming the 14th team in the SEC are "real":

"Florida State officials have been flirting with the SEC for several months and the discussion now are getting more serious, according to sources.

Rumors have been spreading that the SEC is poised to expand, first to 14 teams and then to 16, and the Seminoles and Texas A&M of the Big 12 could be the first two to jump.

"This is real," said a source close to FSU."

Other possible candidates as a 14th SEC include: Clemson, Virginia Tech, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State (settle down there, N.C. State). Also according to the report, it doesn't sound like Miami is going anywhere. So there's that, too.

If Texas A&M actually follows through on joining the SEC as the conference's 13th team, I would imagine the conference would move to 14 and look towards the ACC over other Big 12 options such as Oklahoma, Oklahoma State (which seems to be a package deal) or Missouri. I don't believe the SEC will move to 16 teams right now. ESPN, which has broadcast rights for the SEC, ACC, Big 12 and the Longhorn Network, can't just rip up its existing TV contract with the SEC and has a vested interest in ensuring that all three of those conferences stay together.

Call me crazy, but I actually think the ACC could survive the departure of either Florida State, Clemson or Virginia Tech and stand pat at 11 programs. Everyone sort of freaks out about getting to 12 programs and a football championship game, but that hasn't worked out so well for the ACC, has it? When the ACC moved to the divisional format for the 2005 season, the divisions were divided to set up the possibility of a Florida State vs. Miami title game down in Florida. How's that worked out for us?

Eleven programs wouldn't be all that bad when you think about it. The Big Ten has managed an 11-program conference for nearly two decades after Penn State joined the fold. Losing the ACCCG would also eliminate a hurdle to putting a second team in the big money BCS bowls. Plus we could get rid of the Atlantic and Coastal Divisions which made little sense to begin with. An added bonus would be that BC would get to face those teams in the Coastal Division more often on the gridiron (read: Miami).

On the basketball side, the conference could move to an 18-game regular season, which would give programs home-and-home series with 8 of the 10 other programs in the league. This would be sure to make those Tobacco Road purists happy as it gets the conference closer to the round-robin basketball sched that the conference left behind when it added Miami and Virginia Tech in 2004.

Plus, if we lost a Florida State or a Clemson, this would improve the academic profile of the conference. Addition by subtraction?

Why would the ACC rush to reload with a lesser Big East program -- Syracuse, Connecticut, Pittsburgh, Rutgers -- just to get back to an even dozen when it could conceivably work as an 11 school conference going forward?

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