For those of you that hang around the realignment news section of Twitter (and at this point, following any college football writers qualifies as such), you've likely seen a lot of buzz about "assured" Big 12 expansion this week. As always, the narrative was that Florida State and Clemson were exiting the ACC, which would then open the floodgates for a mass exodus of the conference's teams to the Big 12 and Big Ten, respectively. Frank the Tank's Slant (the preeminent, non-Brett McMurphy source on realignment) addressed these rumors at length yesterday, acknowledging their existence, but reminding us just how illogical the move would be right now. That, of course, didn't stop the constant realignment talk. But perhaps the Austin Statesman piece that appeared late Friday will.
According to the Statesman's Kirk Bohls:
"The Big 12 is actively exploring a possible alliance with the Atlantic Coast Conference and two other unspecified leagues for purposes of scheduling and marketing and possibly even television partnerships in a move that could preclude those leagues from further expansion."
So instead of the Big 12 creating a problem of more mouths to feed for itself, or waiting for the Big Ten to become the Big 25 or so, they'd prefer to create a scheduling partnership? As ACC Sports Journal's Jim Young pointed out shortly after, "sounds like safety in numbers against the Big Ten." And he's right. With the Big Ten on the prowl, the ACC and Big 12 have become extremely vulnerable, and it would seem to be a matter of time until they went after one or both conferences. And no, it's not part of some larger expansion plan for the Big 12, either. Even commissioner Bob Bowlsby mentioned as much in the Statesman piece:
"Bowlsby said the potential move should not be interpreted as a precursor to future expansion in light of the SEC’s additions of Texas A&M and Missouri and the Big Ten’s more recent move to invite Maryland from the ACC and Rutgers from the Big Ten.
'If anything, it’s the opposite," Bowlsby said. "You can begin to get some advantages without taking on any of the disadvantages (of expansion). It’s one option that allows benefits. It’s kind of like friends with benefits.'"
Beyond potentially preventing expansion, what would this move mean for Syracuse in its new home down in the ACC? For one, as Sean pointed out on Twitter, West Virginia continues to be tortured by the Orange, which means right away, I'm on board. But beyond that, this could be the first step toward more long-term security for the ACC in a rapidly changing college athletics landscape. Obviously nothing's carved in stone just yet, and folks like Bowlsby have lied to the media with increasing frequency over the last three years. But for now, I'd prefer to keep the faith.
Do you believe Bowlsby? And if an alliance happens between the ACC and Big 12, could that effectively stop the conference realignment carousel? Share your thoughts below.
John Cassillo authors Atlantic Coast Convos, which chronicles every aspect of ACC (plus Syracuse & Pittsburgh) football. Check out the blog, and follow him on Twitter: @JohnCassillo