Let’s try to get all this straight:
* For months, rumors have swirled of Florida State and Clemson (then Miami) leaving the ACC for the Big 12.
* No traditional journalist in America could get a single source to confirm any of that even off the record. (Not even Joe Schad threw out a “sources say.”) I can’t stress enough how unbelievably uncharacteristic — and telling — that is.
* The ACC and ESPN announced a new deal, but instead of being viewed as a positive, many viewed it as a negative. But they did so for many of the wrong reasons.
* The AD at Florida State, Randy Spetman, said last Friday that his school was committed to the ACC.
* A day later, the chairman of FSU’s board, Andy Haggard, nuked Spetman and the ACC and ESPN and said the board “unanimously” agreed with him that it’s time to listen to other offers from the Big 12 or the SEC, etc. FSU football coach Jimbo Fisher backed Haggard’s comments that afternoon.
* Later that same day, FSU president Eric Barron downplayed Haggard’s trustee/booster’s comments. He and the ACC put out statements saying Haggard had his facts wrong regarding the new TV deal.
* To the west, the University of Texas is on record as saying it’s in favor of the Big 12 remaining a 10-school league, at least for now, and AD DeLoss Dodds — probably the most powerful man in the Big 12 — said FSU is a “long ways away” from joining the Big 12.
* Newly-appointed Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said yesterday he wants expansion to slow down, but he also admitted that he has to discuss the possibilities with his schools’ presidents.
* Officials at FSU, Texas and inside the Big 12 have all said there have been absolutely no talks and that no one has even begun any sort of negotiations.
* ESPN — having just re-worked a deal with the ACC in hopes of giving that league more stability — certainly wants FSU to remain in place and not jump to the Big 12, which would set off further moves and force the network to tear up and then re-work more contracts.
* Monday, FSU’s president sent out an email listing the complaints some FSU folks have with the ACC while simultaneously listing even more issues they would have with the Big 12. In the process, he kicked the Big 12 right in the diplomas calling that conference “academically weaker” than the ACC.
Got all that? Well now ex-Florida State football player and former trustee Derrick Brooks has gone on Tim Brando’s radio show and said the following:
“This is no new discussion for Florida State in terms of leaving the ACC. Whether it be the SEC talk, Big 12, you know, what other conference. It’s nothing new…
I finished up my trusteeship recently, but I’m still very involved. You know, and the Big 12 is coming after us and it’s no doubt that we’re gonna listen. You know, if anyone comes in to talk, I think there’s no harm in listening to what the pitch is.
But there’s been no commitment at all and I think from our president’s standpoint, you know, he was just attempting to put things out there from his perspective, saying ‘these are the pros and, as I see it, these are the cons, as I see it.’ But at the end of the day, you know, we’ll measure each one and if it’s a good decision then the board will decide. You know, not me as a president, but the trustee board will decide what happens and hopefully by the Big 12 flirting or courting us it gives the ACC that much more credibility…
From my understanding it is the Big 12, you know, wanting to talk to us… now again, that’s from my understanding that appears to be the case.”
* Even in previous conference realignment moves — with people lying all over the place — I’ve yet to see a situation quite like this one where no one seems to be on the same page. Right down to Haggard’s rant about the details of a TV contract that were not the actual details of that TV contract. This isn’t like watching a soap opera… it’s like watching a Mexican soap opera when you can’t speak Spanish.
* Why is it every time someone on or once on FSU’s board speaks — first Haggard, now Brooks — he mentions the SEC as a possibile dance partner for the Seminoles? It seems that either a) FSU is longing desperately for an invite to the SEC or b) that FSU’s board knows the SEC would/will/is talking to them (which would mean there is no hard and fast agreement within Mike Slive’s league to steer clear of schools in current SEC states.) The SEC — typically, wisely — remains quiet regarding FSU, allowing that school, the Big 12 and the ACC to stumble all over themselves instead.
* Brooks’ comments regarding the email sent out by FSU president Eric Barron make it seem even more clear that — as we wrote yesterday — if State does join the Big 12, Barron won’t be the president at the time of arrival. Brooks sounded like a jock making sure everyone knew that the board, not the nerd, would make the final call. There’s a battle inside FSU at the moment and unlike the similar fight that was waged at Missouri last year, this one’s much more public and it’s getting a good bit nastier.
* It’s possible that Haggard and Brooks and FSU are simply trying to “pull a Texas” on the ACC. By openly flirting with other leagues — as the Longhorns did with the Pac-10 and Big Ten and, reportedly, the ACC over the past few years — the Seminoles seem to be making a leverage play with commissioner John Swofford. ”Give us something extra.” What’s amusing about this is that “Lil’ Texas” could wind up living in a league with the “Original Texas” and then we’d really get to see some tug-o-wars.
* Brooks’ comments make Bob Bowlsby and the Big 12 look bad. Bowlsby and Big 12 officials have consistently said they’re not even all on board with expansion at this point with Texas being the one, big, known holdout (though Longhorn Rivals’ site Orangebloods.com is trying to help drive an FSU-to-Big 12 move). Barron insulted the Big 12 with his “academically weaker” comment and he must have done so intentionally. Brooks’ comments make the Big 12′s new commissioner — who’s not even officially on the job yet — look either misinformed or dishonest. Unintentionally Brooks might have ticked off a few Big 12′ers himself.
* Finally, how the Big 12 chasing FSU would give the ACC more credibility is anyone’s guess. I’m guessing Swofford is feeling less confident these days, not more confident in his own conference’s future.
At this point, anything at all is possible and anyone trying to read the tea leaves is wasting their time. There are simply too many leaves to be read.
Which means the last 30 minutes I spent writing those observations… yeah, I’ll never get those minutes back.
UPDATE — This just keeps getting better. Brett McMurphy of CBSSports.com reports that FSU’s AD told him of today’s radio interview: “I don’t know where Derrick got that.”
We at MrSEC.com have obtained a quick video breakdown of the current FSU situation: