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Dabo: ‘going to the Big 12 would be the worst thing we could do’

Dabo Swinney AP

When speculation first surfaced that Florida State might have an interest in moving the ACC to the Big 12, head coach Jimbo Fisher gave a very public thumbs up to such a jump.

Clemson was also part of the ACC-to-Big 12 rumor mill churning, although its head football coach has taken a very different tack than his conference counterpart.

Speaking ahead of his high school football camp Tuesday, and as Ben somewhat hit on yesterday, Dabo Swinney was unequivocal as to what conference path his school should take now and in the future.  And, suffice to say, it doesn’t even remotely involve the Big 12, or any other conference for that matter.

“In my opinion, going to the Big 12 would be the worst thing we could do as a football program,” Swinney said. “It makes zero sense. We are the ACC. This is a program that just won the championship and has won it more times than anybody in this conference. We can fulfill every goal and dream that we have right here in this conference. …

“Certainly we’ve got to continue to build our brand from an ACC football standpoint, but, you know what, this is an outstanding conference. It’s a conference in the rise.”

The chairman of Clemson’s Board of Trustees had previously stated that, if they were to “receive a viable option, a viable proposal presented to us by any league, this board has the responsibility to consider it, and we will consider it.”

Despite that, the fifth-year coach labeled the speculation, the Greenville News wrote, as “inaccurate” and “irresponsible”, perhaps in large part because of the impact it’s had on the recruiting trail and the extra effort the staff has to take to quell worries among recruits and their families.

“We have a tremendous footprint to recruit in and play in,” the coach said. “I’ve had to spend all my time re-recruiting guys because of people saying things, putting things out there that aren’t even close to being reality.”

Eight months ahead of Signing Day 2013, Clemson’s currently stands No. 37 in‘s team rankings.  The Tigers have finished 14th (2012), eighth (2011), 19th (2010) and 37th (2009) in those rankings the past four years.

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31 Responses to “Dabo: ‘going to the Big 12 would be the worst thing we could do’”
  1. drummerhoff says: Jun 13, 2012 2:15 PM

    Losing 70-33 is the worst thing Dabo could do.

  2. centexhorn says: Jun 13, 2012 2:17 PM

    This guy is an idiot and has no idea what he’s talking about.

  3. tommyf15 says: Jun 13, 2012 2:18 PM

    Going to the Big 12 makes sense since Clemson will bring in a lot more TV money.

    I still believe the B12 will raid the ACC for two teams, Florida State and someone else. If that happens the dominoes begin to fall. The “worst thing” Clemson could do is remain motionless while other teams depart the ACC and then be stuck in a weak conference.

  4. indywvu says: Jun 13, 2012 2:33 PM

    The reason it’s the worst thing Clemson could do is because they’d play WVU every year. 70-33! #IsItSeptemberYet

  5. timh1955 says: Jun 13, 2012 2:34 PM

    Is it me or does it make SO much more sense for FSU and Clemson to be in the SEC instead of Big 12? The SEC is a MUCH better conference than the Big 12 …or for that fact, any conference.

  6. tommyf15 says: Jun 13, 2012 2:37 PM

    timh1955 says: Is it me or does it make SO much more sense for FSU and Clemson to be in the SEC instead of Big 12? The SEC is a MUCH better conference than the Big 12 …or for that fact, any conference.

    The SEC is looking to expand into new markets. They’re already in Florida and South Carolina, so having more teams in those states is repetitive.

    This is why I believe that sooner than later the SEC will target and add Virginia Tech and North Carolina state.

  7. kcrobert10 says: Jun 13, 2012 3:27 PM

    Tommy I think ur right on with the sec but I belive its the 2 Virginia schools they will want 1st cause of the dc tv market.

  8. halbert53 says: Jun 13, 2012 3:30 PM

    Clemson and FSU are good schools that should be able to dominate a weak conference, but they add no value to SEC (they would add good markets for Big 12). VA Tech has the staying power to compete at a high level in the SEC, and NC State is a solid program. SEC would prefer Duke and NC to boost basketball but that seems unlikely. I would add VT & NC State and be done with it. Why risk losing those two in hope of landing NC and Duke?

  9. tommyf15 says: Jun 13, 2012 3:30 PM

    They’d get the DC market just by adding Virginia Tech.

    Also, I don’t thing Virginia is a good fit for the SEC. Different culture, and no offense to Hoos fans but I can’t see them being competitive.

  10. tommyf15 says: Jun 13, 2012 3:34 PM

    halbert53 says: SEC would prefer Duke and NC to boost basketball but that seems unlikely

    Conference realignment is 100% driven by football. That’s where the big money is.

    No offense to hoops fans (cuz I am one of you) but basketball has zero bearing on this.

    If I had to place a bet on where North Carolina eventually ends up, I’d say the Big Ten.

  11. timh1955 says: Jun 13, 2012 3:35 PM

    The good part about getting Virginia would be the academics part. Also they usually have a good bball program.

  12. thefiesty1 says: Jun 13, 2012 3:37 PM

    Getting his butt whipped by WVU might have something to do with his feelings on possibly playing them again in the BiG 12.

  13. deadeye says: Jun 13, 2012 3:53 PM

    “The SEC is looking to expand into new markets. They’re already in Florida and South Carolina, so having more teams in those states is repetitive.

    This is why I believe that sooner than later the SEC will target and add Virginia Tech and North Carolina state.”



    Your comments are right on the money. Check out this article that references Jackie Sherrill’s thoughts on SEC expansion:

    In the article, Sherrill believes the SEC will go to 16 sooner rather than later. He also doesn’t rule out the possibility of 18 or 20 as the final number of member universities. I have recently wondered myself if something beyond 16 was possible.

    If the SEC is looking to get into the Viriginia/North Carolina markets, would they consider VT/UVA/UNC/NCST as a package deal? That would take the conference to 18, supply two more AAU universities (UNC & UVA), add two excellent football cultures to the SEC (VT & NCST), preserve the UNC-UVA rivalry, effectively block out any other conference from those growing states, all while minimizing the polical complications of splitting VT & UVA, as well as UNC & NCST.

    Obviously this all hinges on whether or not FSU and Clemson really do bring down the ACC. We’ll find out in the next month or two.

  14. floridacock says: Jun 13, 2012 4:20 PM

    Yaba Dabo is correct on some points, but see how fast his tune will change as soon as his bosses tell him they are going.

  15. Deb says: Jun 13, 2012 5:21 PM

    Virginia Tech and the SEC seem a perfect match. But Virginia and Duke? No, I don’t see that. If the SEC is going after North Carolina, I guess NC State makes more sense than UNC. But none of the North Carolina schools feels like a perfect fit.

    Not sure what the Big 12 is planning since they say they’re planning to be the Big 10 in everything but name. However, Dabo should brace himself for a move.

  16. tommyf15 says: Jun 13, 2012 5:27 PM


    The SEC wants t expand into new markets to create demand for the SEC Network. The way things are now they don’t need two schools in one state. So if they brought in Virginia and Virginia Tech they’d be adding one state and two schools to share revenue with. From a financial perspective it makes no sense.

    My guess is the SEC stops expanding at 16, as there’s no other logical markets to move into once they grab Virginia and North Carolina.

  17. thegamecocker says: Jun 13, 2012 7:03 PM


    Great article. But I never thought about a conference that has 18 or 20 schools. Now that is really thinking outside the box and it could happen. The NY City market is open territory as far as TV goes and it is the largest market. No one is mentioning Maryland as a possible team for the Big Ten or SEC. While UNC and Va Tech would be nice additions, Maryland is basically a “DC School” so you’d pick up that market as well. I could see UNC and Duke heading to the Big Ten. It’s a good fit athletically and academically. If Northwestern can compete in football, so could Duke. I could also see Rutgers as a Big Ten team to pickup the NY City market. There are so many combinations and permutations it can drive you insane.

  18. tommyf15 says: Jun 13, 2012 7:17 PM

    @thegamecocker – there has been speculation that both Maryland and Virginia could be eventually be bound for the Big Ten.

    From what I understand the Big Ten has no real interest in Rutgers. Not a cultural or academic fit. Duke isn’t a fit either as the Big Ten is all large, land grant universities (with Northwestern being the lone exception), and one has to consider that if Duke is always punchless in the ACC things would be worse in the Big Ten.

    Hate to say it, but if the ACC falls apart things may be grim for Duke and Wake Forest. Believe it or not Miami has plenty to worry about as well.

  19. pastabelly says: Jun 13, 2012 8:43 PM

    The ACC isn’t falling apart. It just added Pittsburgh and Syracuse and nobody is leaving.

  20. tommyf15 says: Jun 13, 2012 9:01 PM

    @pastabelly: Why do you think no one is leaving?

    Better put, why would a school stay if it could make a lot more money in a different conference?

  21. thegamecocker says: Jun 13, 2012 9:15 PM


    Correct, the ACC is not falling apart. Like the Big East, it will be a terrific Basketball Conference but no chance at big time football money. The ONLY caveat to that would be if Notre Dame joins the ACC. That could throw a monkey wrench into all the conference maneuvering because of the ND TV money. But Syracuse and Pitt have questionable football programs of late. Solid basketball but they bring mediocrity in football.

  22. kcrobert10 says: Jun 13, 2012 9:29 PM

    I know u guys are shooting from the hip with ur picks for the sec I say Virginia and va tech cause they are tied together where one goes the other is likely to follow. Remember Virginia got va tech into the acc. Also the same for duke and north Carolina and nc st. They will all want to stay together. Just like last yr with the pac 10 looking at the big 12 south they weren’t getting ou without ok st or Texas without Texas tech. I will also say when and if the day comes nobody will get ku’s bball program without k st.

  23. tommyf15 says: Jun 13, 2012 10:01 PM


    I understand what you’re saying but there’s another side to it.

    The SEC will be interested in Virginia Tech, but they won’t take Virginia as well. If the Hokie fans and alumni want to join the SEC and are able to do so the Virginia State Legislature won’t ruin the party.

    My guess is that North Carolina State’s fans and alums would jump at the chance of joining the SEC. Much like Texas A&M they would relish the idea of gaining their own identity and no longer being in UNC’s shadow.

    Remember that it doesn’t take much for the dominoes to start falling. Who would have guessed five years ago that Nebraska, Colorado, Texas A&M, and Missouri would all leave the Big 12? The other schools stayed for one reason only- they had nowhere else to go.

  24. deadeye says: Jun 14, 2012 2:06 AM


    I do understand that the SEC’s priority is gaining new television markets, and as such they don’t want two schools in the same state. But I think secondary considerations could come into play soon. First, the fertile recruiting territory of Florida and Georgia are potentially going to transfer from the relatively inept ACC to the highly competitive and successful BIG12. I think over time the SEC won’t necessarily regret their expansion, but will want to find a way to hoard all the rich local talent within the conference. Second, once the territorial aspect of expansion is fully tapped out (North Carolina and Virginia represent the end of that road) the SEC will want to shift focus onto teams with a strong national appeal. FSU is one of the absolute strongest brands in college football. And they are on their way back up. If the SEC went to 18, they could bide their time until FSU and one other school became available and try to bring them into the SEC, back from the BIG12. I really think the SEC would want to monopolize the Florida talent. If such a strategy was pursued, the 20th team could be either GT or Clemson, or some other university that brings something useful to the table.


    I’ve thought about the scheduling of a 20 team conference versus a 16 team conference, and it really is not that much more difficult. We’re dealing with 4 divisions at both 16 and 20. So in a 16 team conference the schedule would be 3 division, and 6 non-division games with the other 3 divisions, each getting 2 games. Under that scenario every team plays every other team once every 2 seaons on average. Now while 16 is the cleanest scheduling number, with a 20 team conference you would get 4 division, and 5 non-division games. Those 5 non-division games would be spread among the other 3 divisions rotating each year (2,2,1) so that in 3 seasons you still play every single team in the conference, as opposed to every 2 seasons the other way. It’s not as ideal, but still very managable.

    Here’s another “out of the box” idea for the SEC. If Duke basketball is necessary to convince UNC to join, the SEC should allow Duke to become a basketball-only member of the SEC. I know most people would be against the idea, but in all honestly Duke football is a millstone. No conference (outside the ACC) is going to be willing to support Duke when they bring nothing to the football side of things. They SHOULD be a basketball only school.

  25. wvuandsteelers says: Jun 14, 2012 8:11 AM

    I think the SEC should trade Vanderbilt and Kentucky to the ACC for Va Tech and NC State. I say NC State because there is no way UNC would leave the ACC is there? Kentucky is so much like the ACC…basketball #1 and Vandy is just like Duke.

    Big 12, I think, is hoping they can land the 2 religious schools–BYU and Notre Dame. Failing that, I would like to see them raid GA Tech and Miami (2 huge TV markets and 2 storied programs). Plus, that would give the Big 12 footholds in 3 of the top 4 recruiting states (Texas, Georgia and Florida…..on par with the SEC).

  26. wvuandsteelers says: Jun 14, 2012 8:12 AM

    Oh, one more thing, Dabo. I think West Virginia just scored again.

  27. thegamecocker says: Jun 14, 2012 10:30 AM

    @WVUand Steelers

    LOL re. WVU scoring again! It never stops! It’s the gift that keeps on giving.

    I must give you props: Like Robert Kennedy once said: “Some people see things as they are and ask why; YOU see things that never were and say WHY NOT!” Duke as a football only member of the SEC….I don’t see how but anything is possible. The Big East has that relationship with ND so there is precedent. The 20 league team also a possibility but only if big markets are included that would grow incremental volume for the league. Baltimore/Wash comes to mind as does NY City. If ND were outstanding, they could easily command NY City. That is why if they opted for the ACC, ND vs. Syracuse would generate tremedous TV ratings / advertising dollars. You’re a bright man!!!

  28. ancientcougar says: Jun 14, 2012 2:12 PM

    Let the SEC and the Big 12 raid the ACC; then the ACC and The Big East could merge into a decent league. I said decent.

  29. mdak06 says: Jun 14, 2012 9:35 PM

    I’m amused how everyone is writing the ACC’s obituary. It wasn’t that long ago that everyone was convinced that the Big 12 was doomed, and that simply didn’t happen.

  30. ncaainsider says: Jun 15, 2012 1:47 AM


    I have resources close to the Big 12 that indicate they are targeting the Chicago market for expansion. Chicago is geographically close to other Big 12 schools and, by far, a larger sports market than any currently in the Big 12.

    Chicago represents 7+ million viewers and can be a huge revenue driver for the conference. The Chicagoland area also supplies a large amount of students to Big 12 universities and boasts over 100,000 Big 12 alumni in its media reach.

    Chicago also has a number of 50,000 watt radio stations broadcasting college football to all of the midwest and much of the big 12 broadcast area.

    Discussions have already begun to tap Northern Illinois University (NIU) as a possible next invitee to the Big 12 Conference. NIU represents 25,000 undergraduate students and thousands of graduate students as well.

    They have the academic standards to not only match, but exceed many of the current Big 12 schools.

    The Huskie football program has been a thorn in the side to a few Big 12 schools over the years (Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State) and claimed victories over many BCS Schools (Alabama, Maryland, Wisconsin, Purdue, etc)

    NIU has won 11 games in each of the last two years making it one of the best programs in FBS football and currently holds the nations longest home winning streak.

    Because of the quality of both the football program and the institution itself, Northern Illinois University has been under close investigation for admittance into the Big 12 Conference.

    No word yet from Jeff Compher, NIU AD. Any official confirmation would most likely come from Donna Turner, associate AD, who normally responds to these types of media requests.

  31. thegamecocker says: Jun 15, 2012 9:09 AM


    Norther Illinois University to the Big 12? I guess that would be a safe fall-back assuming Notre Dame doesn’t bite if their goal is to gain the Chicago TV Market. It’s really not a bad idea at all. Northern’s stature would change overnight to a “big time” school. But how large is their football stadium and how good are the facilities there?


    The ONLY caveat to the ACC remaining a football conference would be if Notre Dame joins. That could throw a monkey wrench into all the conference maneuvering because of the ND TV money. No one said the ACC would cease to exist, it just wouldn’t play a part in the college football world that competes for a Nat’l Champ. It would be what it is: great basketball conference.

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