Big 12 Expansion: How The ACC Can Stop Florida State, Clemson From Leaving

If you've been checking here at SB Nation Dallas regularly over the past month, you'd know that Florida State and Clemson both have interest in leaving the ACC and joining the Big 12 conference. From Florida State and Clemson's perspective, it makes total sense, as they'd join a better football conference and, in time, receive larger pay days at their respective institutions.

Currently, though, it doesn't appear to make a lot of sense from the Big 12's perspective, which is always subject to change -- and it probably will change once the new BCS playoff format is unveiled later this summer.

As mentioned yesterday, the ACC should worry about losing Florida State -- and if we know anything about college athletics, the ACC will likely try to pull out every trick in the book to keep the Seminoles. Frank the Tank offered a five step plan on how the ACC can hold itself together, and as always, he makes some salient points.

Change the Football Divisional Alignment to North/South - As much as people have talked about national conferences and TV markets with respect to realignment, the only expansion among the five power conferences into a non-contiguous state was the Big 12 with West Virginia.

Here's how I would re-align the ACC:

NORTH DIVISION
Miami
Syracuse
Pittsburgh
Boston College
Maryland
Virginia
Virginia Tech

SOUTH DIVISION
Florida State
Clemson
Georgia Tech
North Carolina
Duke
N.C. State
Wake Forest

Given that Florida State had been looking into the travel costs that they'd incur as a result of moving to the Big 12, geography, as Frank the Tank says, could very well be important to Florida State. Saving money is just as good as making money, so if the ACC can find a way to reduce Florida State's expenses, that'll certainly help keep the Seminoles in the conference.

Lobby the Faculty Members at Florida State and Clemson - There's a continuous debate as to whether academics ought to matter in terms of formulating athletic conferences. This has played out at Florida State at the highest levels, where the school's chair of the Board of Trustees took an almost anti-intellectual viewpoint of stating that "[c]onference affiliation has no impact on academics", while the university's president took the opposite view that "the faculty are adamantly opposed to joining a league that is academically weaker." My take is pretty simple: conferences would rather have better academic schools than not, while schools would rather have a better academic conference than not.

The ACC has some pretty excellent academic institutions in it, and as Frank the Tank says in his post, the ACC, like the Big 10 and Pac-12, have made efforts to target schools that are highly rated academic institutions. It's unknown how much power the faculty would actually have, or how many professors would really object to a change in conferences, but it's an interesting idea.

Frank the Tank's other suggestions are quite straightforward as well -- change the schedule for both Florida State and Clemson so that they don't play tough conference opponents in advance of rivalry games with SEC opponents.

Another suggestion offered by Frank is that the Orange Bowl should have a tie-in with Notre Dame as the opponent. Notre Dame seems like the ultimate wild card in all conference realignment talks, as we know they're coveted by the Big 12. With the SEC and Big 12 champions now off the table, and the Pac-12 and Big 10 champions in the Rose Bowl, Notre Dame suddenly becomes the biggest at-large team available. It'd be slightly degrading to the conference to face the No. 2 school from either the Big 12, SEC, Pac-12 or Big 10, so having Notre Dame, if eligible, be locked in to the Orange Bowl might not be the worst idea.

Lastly, Frank suggests that the ACC pushes ESPN to keep the full value of the television contract, even in the event of defections.

We'll see if the ACC takes any of these steps, or other steps, in the coming weeks to try to keep the conference together as is.

For more on BIg 12 expansion, be sure to check back at SB Nation Dallas all summer long.

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