Yes, we know that the Big 12 has apparently decided to continue doing nothing. There's no reason why we should follow their lead. Besides, as one commenter noted yesterday, it's fun to learn about other schools from the perspective of their own fanbases.
As such, our peripatetic tango through the dangerous minefields of realignment takes a turn for the less-absurd today as we look at the candidacy of a school which isn't really a candidate now -- but once was, and with the proper legal wrangling maybe could be again. Today's guest is the head man over at Clemson blog Shakin' the Southland, @Brian_Goodison.
Jon: This isn't actually a ridiculous and obviously-sarcastic day at EXPANSIONPALOOZA, as Clemson really was on the Big 12 radar a couple of years ago. At the time, how interested was the Clemson fanbase in the possibility? And would they even consider it now if it could be worked out?
Brian: When the rumors were going around, I think a majority of fans wanted to stay in the ACC. There was certainly a subset that wanted to leave the conference, but it was never enough that would force the hand of the Clemson Administrators. Now I don't think there is much of a desire. Clemson is finishing up one of the best years in athletic history. We have ACC titles in baseball and football plus runners up in men's soccer and football for national title. The money is still a concern, but I'm not sure that the Big 12 would get us that much more.
Jon: Similarly, how interested was the administration back then, and what would they think now?
Brian: The administration was the group that decided not to pursue the Big 12 any more. I know there were some meetings about how the finances of a move would work. Increase in the cost of travel, more TV money, etc. and how that would work. But the Board didn't find it worth making the switch. The tradition of Clemson in the ACC was also a big factor, and I think it would still be a factor right now. It is hard for me to see a switch being supported now.
Jon: Putting aside money, academics, and success, what crazy benefits would Clemson provide the Big 12?
Brian: The Big 12 would get a footprint into the southeast which can be huge for recruiting. South Carolina isn't a traditional powerhouse for recruits, but Clemson is only 2 hours from Atlanta and 2 hours from Charlotte. There is an incredible amount of talent in the area and Clemson now provides a national brand. A lot of recruits enjoy Coach Swinney's personality and Clemson would add that unique element to the Big 12. Plus you'd get good food. That's the important point right?
Jon: Rivalries. Who would you see becoming Clemson's second-most-hated enemy?
Brian: Probably Oklahoma. You may have heard about the shellacking we've given the Sooners two years in a row. Add in Baker Mayfield's comments about not being impressed by Clemson and it all comes together for an excellent level of hate. I could always say Texas, but I prefer to hate on relevant teams.
Jon: Why do WE want to come visit Sakerlina? What's great about Clemson? What's your fanbase REALLY like (warts and all)?
Brian: You have to come visit to see the rock. Sure it has been chipped and scratched, but who doesn't want to see a rock at the top of a hill? Why else would you come to middle of nowhere South Carolina?
But really you come to see some great football and some excellent tailgating. Clemson has a gorgeous campus with plenty of tailgates full of your favorite BBQ (You will take the pork and you will like it! The sauce too). The town is a classic college town with some great local shops and plenty of friendly locals. Yes, you'll get a few of your classic redneck fans, but outside of the occasional incident with FSU or South Carolina fans we are more than welcoming. Most newcomers leave saying they had an excellent time and can't wait to come back.
Jon: And now, the big one. Thanks to Texas, we can't just assume Clemson would be an automatic invite. So sell us. Why should the Big 12 invite Clemson?
Brian: The common stereotype of Clemson being an SEC football school stuck in the ACC is true. Despite a small fanbase compared to traditional powers, Clemson fans pack Death Valley. You'll likely get a good traveling contingent for most games, even to the middle of nowhere places like Lubbock, and Clemson will always be competitive. Outside of football Clemson has a rich tradition in baseball and soccer. Plus you guys need another scrub school to beat up on in basketball, right?
You know, lowering the Big 12's basketball RPI and improving the ACC's by subtraction may well be enough of an argument against this plot. But what do you think? If the Big 12 suddenly announced Clemson was joining the club, how would you feel?