Rumors intensify concerning Clemson and Florida State to the Big 12

Recently, there has been quite a bit of steam online about the possibility of the Big 12 adding Clemson and Florida State to its ranks.
Florida State v Clemson
Florida State v Clemson / Isaiah Vazquez/GettyImages

It seems inevitable that the college football realignment carousel will continue to spin in the upcoming months and years. What's more, it appears that the ACC will be the epicenter of the next seismic shift in the sport.

That's because Clemson and Florida State are trying to legally maneuver their way out of their grant of media rights deals with the conference. That is an ongoing drama that has the attention of many people around the college football landscape.

Most have been assuming that the Big Ten or the SEC would be the natural landing spots for those two programs should they earn their freedom from the awful ACC media deal that runs through 2027. However, some reasonably credible sources are now posting on social media that the Big 12 could be the likely landing spot for these two coveted universities.

Most of the smoke is coming from Greg Swaim, a radio host from Stillwater, Oklahoma who not only covers Oklahoma State but also the Big 12. This week, as he has been at Big 12 Media Days in Las Vegas, he's been very intentional about pushing the narrative that Clemson and Florida State may have no better choice than to join the Big 12.

On Tuesday, Swaim reported that no offer from the Big Ten or SEC is going to be extended to either Clemson or Florida State. He posted that information on X claiming that the Big Ten's academic standards were a factor and that the SEC has turned down both schools.

It isn't hard to imagine that the Big Ten might hold off on trying to add either school because of a lack of AAU accreditation. After all, every member of that conference except Nebraska is an AAU member institution. That includes the four schools joining the league this summer, Oregon, Washington, USC, and UCLA.

Meanwhile, the SEC might not find much value in adding Clemson and Florida State. Sure, those two universities feature high-profile football programs but at some point, adding more schools would stop making sense for the conference because it only means more mouths to feed.

Already having added Texas and Oklahoma to the mix this year, would the addition of Clemson or Florida State move the television viewing needle much for a conference that already enjoys the strongest ratings of any and which already has a dominant hold on the Southeastern region of the country?

Wednesday, Swaim doubled down on his stance saying that the Big 12's television partners might also be helping to pull the strings. He even suggested that talks between the two schools and the Big 12 have intensified.

As one might expect, Big 12 Commissioner Brett Yormark was asked about expansion in Las Vegas this week. He said that the goal isn't a specific number of schools but rather to find schools that are the right fit.

"I often get asked about expansion and what's next," he said. "I'm really focused on the current composition of our conference. We've expanded a lot. My wife told me the other day, when you took the job you had 10 schools. You have 16 now. That's in a very short period of time, in less than 24 months.

"So we've got to make sure as a collective group we're reaching our potential. So I haven't really thought about what's the right number. I don't know if it's really about a number. I think it's about the right fit. It's about the value of potential school might or might not bring to the conference.

"But right now we're focused on 16. We're focused on getting this right, and I'm really excited about our future as a 16-team league."

While Yormark has to play this close to the vest, there seems to be no question that he and the Big 12 would welcome Clemson and Florida State into its ranks with open arms. That's because those two programs would instantly provide blue-blood power to a conference that is missing that component in football now that Texas and Oklahoma are gone.

As for Swaim, he believes that the Big 12 could add as many as six ACC schools, not just two. However, the first two would likely have to be Clemson and Florida State as they are the two that seem to be holding the ACC together right now.

Whether or not one chooses to believe Swaim's reporting, the fact remains that there is increasing smoke about the Big 12 and its pursuit of Clemson and Florida State. It's a story worth watching because should that move happen, it would be the biggest coup that Yormark could pull off.