Ever since the chairman of Florida State’s Board of Trustees very loudly and openly acknowledged an interest in listening to overtures from the Big 12, officials from that conference, from new commissioner Bob Bowlsby to de facto commissioner DeLoss Dodds, have attempted to, at least publicly, shove the expansion toothpaste back into the tube.
Leave it to the new kid on the conference block to make all of that public posturing moot.
By way of the esteemed Chris Level of 104.3 FM in Lubbock, and appearing at breakfast in that city Wednesday morning, TCU athletic director Chris Del Conte, whose school will not become an official member of the Big 12 until July 1, confirmed that the Big 12 had received interest from several schools. Specifically, Del Conte mentioned current ACC members Florida State, Clemson and Miami as schools “trying to get in” the Big 12.
Del Conte subsequently attempted to clarify his remarks, claiming in a comment to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that he “was referring to [the] rumor mill, not confirming schools’ interest in [the] Big 12.”
Regardless of what the AD “meant”, this is not exactly new news as all three of those schools have been speculated on as possibilities if/when the Big 12 expands over the past month. Conte, though, is the first official from a current/future Big 12 member we’re aware of to publicly and specifically confirm it, regardless of how the words are finessed after the fact.
Conte’s inclusion of FSU in even exploratory talks with the Big 12 directly contradicts what the Tallahassee school’s president, Texas’ athletic director and the Big 12’s commissioner have stated in the past couple of weeks, that there have been no talks between conference officials and that school “that they’re aware of” winkwink nudgenudge.
While Conte was the initial spiller of the beans, so to speak, he’s not exactly in favor of expansion taking place — right now.
“From my standpoint of right now, I want to say ‘let’s take [a] breath‘,” Del Conte, by way of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, said during a radio interview earlier today. “We are in a position of strength. Let’s not rush into anything. We know expansion has to happen. It may not be for a while. We are in the catbird seat right now. We don’t need to rush it. You are excited all of these teams want into the Big 12 and two years ago it was going to disintegrate.”
The fact that there have been discussions with other schools regarding potential membership is far from an earth-shattering development. The fact that an official connected to the conference, though, is comfortable enough to broach the subject in public — and after denials of discussions have come from other, more senior league officials — could very well mean this expansion “thing” has more, stronger legs than some would’ve ever believed.