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Report: Big 12 in ‘Early Conversation’ Stage with Top ACC Schools

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Conference Realignment ACC logo on camera

It doesn’t seem as though there’s going to be any sense of stability in college football for quite some time, especially if realignment occurs once again.

Florida State and Clemson, to a lesser extent, have been linked to an ACC exit for a while now, and while the it would likely take a costly legal battle to actually leave the conference, there whispers are getting louder.

The Big 12 kicked off its 2024 media days at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, welcoming a handful of new members from the Pac-12, and the topic of Big 12 expansion was broached once again. Big 12 media personality John Kurtz welcomed Ross Dellenger of Yahoo! Sports on his show inside Allegiant and the topic turned to Florida State and Clemson.

According to Dellenger, there are likely three options that Florida State and Clemson are evaluating.

No. 1, the two schools are looking at the Big Ten or SEC. No. 2, trimming the ACC down to 10 schools (as an example) to maximize television distribution. No. 3, join another league, which would be the Big 12 considering it’s the only other Power conference.

Dellenger said that Florida State and Clemson would likely prefer the first option, but there hasn’t been much momentum in either receiving an invite to the “Big Two” at this point.

“I think there is at least early conversation between the Big 12 and those schools about the possibility,” Dellenger told Kurtz. “I don’t know that it’s anything serious yet because they do have to get out of the ACC, whether that’s through a settlement or a court ruling, so we could be months if not years away from something, but that does seem to be one of the possibilities, the Big 12.”

Of course, it remains to be seen whether a jump from the ACC to the Big 12 is an upgrade. The ironclad ACC Grant of Rights is complicated and costly, but both schools have sued the conference regarding Grant of Rights and a potential exit — at the very least, find out how much it would cost to buy out of the conference and whether TV deal revenue would be kept by the conference.

The Big 12 would then need to admit the two ACC schools, should they find a way out of the ACC, and that would get costly.

“Not only would you have to help them get out, but you’d have to pay them in distribution when they get to the league an amount that is at least close to what the Big Ten and SEC are paying their schools,” Dellenger said. “So, the Big 12 gets mid-30s or just call it 40 million a year, per school in distribution, and the SEC and the Big Ten are at more like 70, which that number will go up. So, if you do use private equity or whatever other financial means to get a Florida State or a Clemson, is the Big 12 admin okay with unequal revenue distribution? Would they be oaky with paying Florida State or Clemson 10 to 20 million dollars more a year?

“And that’s a question I don’t know the answer to, except to say that would probably be hard to convince them in the room to do that, but if it means adding Blue Blood football powers that you need, maybe there’s a shot.”

It’s a longshot for a few reasons (the ACC Grant of Rights, the practical fit of Florida State and Clemson in the Big 12, a desire for FSU and Clemson to join the Big 12 and the unpredictability of college football), and the Big 12 would have to agree on further expansion — and work the financials.

In the meantime, the ACC v. Clemson continue this week in Pickens County, S.C.

This story initially appeared on our partner Pittsburgh Sports Now.

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