Posted by Chip Patterson
With the back and forth regarding Texas A&M's possible jump to the SEC, there is one more piece of the puzzle worth considering.
If the Aggies do make the leap, who would be the primary target for spot No. 14?
The popular belief is that SEC expansion would first involve an increase to 14 teams, then eventually finish at 16. Because the shrinking Big 12 and their displeasure with Texas and the Longhorn Network, Texas A&M leaving would not be a huge shock. But once you start to look at candidates for that fourteenth spot is where things get messy. According to a report in the Palm Beach Post, the rumors of Florida State making the jump as well are "real."
Tom D'Angelo cited a source close to FSU who confirmed that the discussions are getting more serious. D'Angelo also writes that the other candidates being mentioned for SEC expansion are Clemson, Virginia Tech, Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State.
Some believe that Florida would try to block the Seminoles from joining the SEC, and South Carolina would do the same for in-state rival Clemson. Adding the nearby foe to the SEC presents all kinds of new recruiting challenges, after the Gators and Gamecocks have been able to use the "all-mighty SEC" card in years past.
The Florida State-SEC rumors have swirled before, and when the Seminoles were owning the ACC it seemed like the program was too big for the conference. But Florida State, seeking their first ACC title since 2005, sputtered for a big in the last half-decade. Still, with head coach Jimbo Fisher at the helm there is a buzz in Tallahassee again. Seminole fans believe that they have big-time college football right in their backyard. You know who else has big-time college football in their backyard? The SEC.
A Florida State exit would be a crippling blow to ACC football, as would Clemson or Virginia Tech. Clemson and Florida State hang their hat on success from the 1980's and 1990's, while the Hokies have dominated the conference since their arrival in 2004. From the national perspective, these are some of the teams that give the ACC clout. Losing any one of them to the SEC would send the conference into an unexpected scramble to keep their membership at 12 teams for the ACC Championship Game.
UPDATE: Florida State President Eric Barron talked to the Associated Press about the FSU-to-SEC rumors on Friday saying "I don't think there is anything to talk about right now. I don't speculate when there's no conversation." ACC President John Swofford also said that he has received "no indication from any of our 12 presidents that they have any intention of being affiliated with any conference other than the ACC."
For more conference drama, keep it here at the Eye on College Football