Big 12 expansion candidates: Florida State, Clemson and more
BY JOHN E. HOOVER World Sports Columnist
Thursday, May 31, 2012
5/31/12 at 5:25 AM
Related Story: John E. Hoover: Big 12 says it's happy at 10 - for now
Original Print Headline: Big 12 expansion candidates
Although no developments are anticipated during this week's Big 12 Conference spring meetings in Kansas City, expansion talk is on the table. If the Big 12 expands in the coming months - not happening any time soon, according to league administrators - look for these schools to be leading candidates.
Florida State Seminoles
Quality: 10 out of 10
Prospectus: Football is king, and Florida State has plenty of it. The Seminoles aren't what they were (two national titles in the '90s) under Bobby Bowden, but they still win and many think they're a sleeping giant in the Atlantic Coast Conference. FSU football would land the Big 12 even more TV dollars, and Big 12 coaches would love to dip into the Sunshine State's bottomless well of recruits. Basketball has been up and down at best. Baseball, volleyball, women's soccer and track and field are among the best in the nation.
The guess: 65 percent
Quality: 8 out of 10
Prospectus: Clemson football has had its moments, from a national title in 1981 and an ACC-leading 14 conference titles to coach John W. Heisman himself. Although the program is almost perennially seen as an underachiever, the Tigers are still a hot television commodity. Basketball has made 11 NCAA Tournament appearances since 1980, including the last four in a row. Baseball has been to seven College World Series since 1991. Men's track has been quality lately.
The guess: 50 percent
Quality: 6 out of 10
Prospectus: Louisville, once a basketball-only program, has made huge investments in football, baseball and other sports as the school transitioned from Conference USA to the Big East. But Papa John's Cardinal Stadium (55,000) would be one of the Big 12's smallest, and football has underachieved since the Bobby Petrino era, meaning TV execs have a hard time backing the Cardinals. But basketball (nine Final Fours, including this past season) remains prime real estate, and women's basketball also has excelled.
The guess: 35 percent
Quality: 7 out of 10
Prospectus: If Miami football is good, the 'Canes will draw viewers and put cash in Big 12 pockets. But The U hasn't been good lately, with scandals stealing headlines and an impending NCAA hammer soon to drop. Miami is a small private school whose football tradition began in 1983, so there aren't a gazillion alums or even a old-school, wealthy fan base. South Florida recruits, however, are plentiful. While baseball has four national titles, 22 CWS trips and the NCAA's longest postseason streak going (39 years), other sports have been unable to sustain success.
The guess: 20 percent
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
Quality: 7 out of 10
Prospectus: Georgia Tech usually fields a quality football product, and history and strong tradition make the Yellow Jackets attractive to TV partners. However, Tech has something of a lingering inferiority complex - deep in the heart of the South, yet second fiddle to Georgia and other Southeastern Conference powers after leaving the SEC in 1964. Baseball, men's basketball and golf are superior properties, and Big 12 coaches would relish opening up a recruiting vein in the South.
The guess: 20 percent
Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Quality: 9 out of 10
Prospectus: The school's prestige speaks for itself. Of course, it remains extremely unlikely the Big 12 would absorb Notre Dame football. Instead, the possibility exists the Irish would send all their other sports from the Big East to the Big 12 and remain independent in football. While men's basketball has historically underachieved, Big 12 execs would jump at the chance to get major quality women's basketball, baseball and women's soccer (three national titles, five runners-up since 1994) and other sports. This may hinge on the fates of the ACC and Big East.
The guess: 15 percent
James Wilder Jr. (left) scores a 2-yard touchdown during Florida State's spring game on April 14. PHIL SEARS / Associated Press
Clemson running back Andre Ellington (right) outruns a Florida State player last season. RICHARD SHIRO / Associated Press file