Ever since the news was released that the SEC and the Big 12 and formed a new bowl alliance with its conference champions, speculation has increased, exponentially, the ACC could be in trouble.
Consider the following reports published since noon Friday:
ESPN: New bowl a death knell for ACC?
Sporting News: SEC-Big 12 bowl game alliance starts unthinkable change
CBS: Wherever FSU lands, its reps need to get on same page
FOX: Big 12-SEC deal is playoff foundation
If you are a fan of Clemson, Florida State, Virginia Tech or any school in the league that actually gives a rip about its athletic future, you should be.
Or at least, you should be based on reading these reports.
(By the way, weren't these the same media outlets who were reporting the Big 12 was set to dissolve just eight months ago? Remember the whole Texas, Oklahoma and half the league were bolting to the Pac 12 story? That's another story for another day, but keep that in mind as we discuss this.)
|"When it starts to 'feel' like the ACC is on the outside looking in the New World College Football Order, it's truly time to start thinking outside the box."|
And it could change things to the point where it finally makes sense for Clemson University to truly consider all of its options when it comes to conference realignment.
You see, we can all argue 'til the cows come home on how financially it makes more sense for Clemson to stay in the ACC or to bolt for the Big 12. The fact of the matter is there is so much misinformation out there either argument becomes blurry at best.
Ultimately, it would probably be financially more attractive for Clemson to leave given the state of the two leagues, but if the ACC were to add at least one more "football school," such as Notre Dame, perhaps the margin wouldn't be nearly as wide as some have suggested.
Still, even that point is very much debatable in a new-and-improved Big 12.
But when it starts to "feel" like the ACC is on the outside looking in the New World College Football Order, it's truly time to start thinking outside the box.
The reports linked above suggest four super conferences are on the horizon, with the ACC and the Big East not getting the same respect as the Big 12, Pac 12, Big Ten and SEC. And while we don't know that with 100 percent certainty at this juncture, we do know the past 24 hours have been nothing short of a seismic shift in that direction.
If that is the case, Clemson must consider all of its options when it comes to conference realignment, and if that means the Big 12- so be it.
When Dabo Swinney and his coaching staff are on the road recruiting, they aren't selling the notion Clemson is in ACC. But they are selling the idea that if you come to Clemson, you can compete for a National Championship.
Will they still be able to sell that same notion to recruits in five years if Clemson remains in the ACC?
"When Dabo Swinney and his coaching staff are on the road recruiting, they aren't selling the notion Clemson is in ACC. But they are selling the idea that if you come to Clemson, you can compete for a National Championship." (Getty Images)
In case you haven't figured it out, the Rose Bowl could basically serve as one National Semifinal game (Big Ten vs. Pac 12) while the new bowl game between the SEC and Big 12 could be the other.
The winners, of course, play for the National Championship.
Where does that leave Clemson? What about the ACC?
Never mind the arguments about which league Clemson makes more money in or whether home games against Iowa State or Wake Forest are more attractive- what's the point in playing if you can't compete for the National Championship when that magical season finally comes together?
The other four major conferences have taken a step forward to suggest they are moving on- and perhaps they did it try and force the hands of the remaining schools in the ACC or Big East they want to acquire.
Was yesterday's news just another step to lure Florida State away from the ACC? And if so, what does that mean for Clemson and or Virginia Tech and Miami? Will they follow?
Without question, at bare minimum the Atlantic Coast Conference is being put on notice.
And what can the ACC do at this point? Lure Notre Dame and one more school to solidify its football brand?
Honestly, would that be enough to create a fifth major conference and even so, how would that fifth conference fit into the new four-team playoff?
Taking the big picture approach, you have to believe a new-and-improved ACC with Notre Dame and one more school means the league survives- but only if there are no defections from other league members to other conferences.
Still, given all the noise out of Tallahassee in recent weeks, how likely is that? And what about the other rumors the SEC has targeted Virginia Tech and N.C. State?
It gets better. Remember it was less than a year ago the Big 12 was on its death bed and the same media outlets above were all set to bury it faster than they did the old Southwest Conference some 20 years ago.
Lo and behold, the Big 12 is now one of the pillars of stability. Go figure.
Could the ACC somehow, some way, follow suit? Or is it too late?
The only thing we can say with certainty is that nothing is certain, and all of this appears to be happening faster than anyone could have ever anticipated.