Clemson and Florida State: It’s Too Good To Be True

It’s that time again. The whispers are starting up and everyone’s favorite offseason storyline from last year is back again: Realignment. The focus is on Florida State and its potential move to the Big 12 and the possibility of other teams making the jump along with the ‘Noles. One of those rumored partners is the Clemson Tigers and their rowdy, orange-wearing, cadence-cheering fanatical program. It won’t happen in time for any significant changes this year, but we could be looking at a possible change of scenery in the next few years.

If the opportunity presents itself for Clemson to go to the Big 12 as Florida State’s partner, they have to accept.

Despite that, here are a couple of reasons why the Tigers won’t have such an easy decision if they are given a chance to jump to the ACC:

1) The ACC is a stronger academic conference

Despite having to account for me, the ACC can still lay claim to being a better academic conference than the Big 12. While that may not mean a lot to everyone, it does mean something to universities. I won’t pretend to lump academic and athletic decisions into one for schools who often separate them. In fact, have we not learned through NCAA athletics that student-athletes will be given chance after chance to meet their academic standards? However, this move wouldn’t be about the homework students have to turn in. We’re talking about a drop in the level of the university reputations. The ACC has many strong academic institutions among top athletic programs with North Carolina, Duke, Boston College, Syracuse, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech and yes, even Clemson being considered very strong by most national ranking systems. Without begrudging the academic policies of the Big 12, they don’t match that.

2) The ACC is simply a better overall major sports conference

This is a football decision. These decisions almost always are, but is leaving for football a better overall decision for these programs? The ACC goes and forth with the Big East historically for the title as best basketball conference in the country. While in the last couple years the ACC has been very top heavy, the Big 12 has rarely ever lived up to the caliber of the ACC. In baseball, that edge is even more dramatic. The ACC may have the best conference in America for baseball with the latest poll showing sox ACC teams ranked in the top 25 to the Big 12′s two. While the ACC has been the butt end of jokes for a while for their shortcomings in the College World Series, that tidbit has held true for a while now. The ACC has long been an elite conference in baseball. When talking about the sports that factor the most into the athletic department decisions, you’re looking at that triumvirate of sports.

However, as I said already, this is a football decision. For my money, Clemson would be making the best decision if they chose to go to the Big 12. Clemson is a football school. Despite being in the ACC for decades, the legacy of the basketball conference has never done anything for Clemson basketball. It has been a happy-go-lucky basketball program for years now, never truly fielding a contender and generally being satisfied if it makes the NCAA tourney. The attitude toward the program has been a shade above lukewarm for quite some time. The baseball team is better supported and is beloved, especially in the late part of the semester and early part of summer break when it is the lone act in town.

The Big 12 is simply a more attractive football conference. It offers the top 10 programs, national television exposure each week, and passionate fanbases that often are missing in the ACC. I’ve said it a few times now that Florida State, Clemson and Miami are SEC/Big 12 fanbases trapped in a conference full of mildly passionate fanbases. There’s a reason FSU and Clemson are 80,000+ seat stadiums (and Miami 76K) in a league where most other schools are only holding 60K with some as low as 30-35K. The ACC is not a great football conference. Other schools in the league pride themselves on other sports and it shows. Clemson will never benefit as a football school playing in the Atlantic Coast Conference. When the 4-team playoff format starts in 2014, what leagues do you think will have a leg up on the rest? That would be the SEC, Big 12, Big Ten and PAC-12.

The ACC is already considered a tier-2 football conference and has close to no national respect. If Clemson decided to stay in the ACC (or if they don’t have the choice to leave for the Big 12), there’s a lot worse positions they could be in. However, we’ve seen teams move around a bit in recent years and it leads me to believe that at some point in the near future we’re going to see a major shift in the collegiate athletic landscape with the emergence of “super conferences”. If the opportunity presents itself for Clemson and Florida State to get a piece of the cake when it’s sliced, they should grab their slice. I’d hate to look around in 10 years and be surrounded by Wake Forest and Boston College.

So say yes Clemson. If the Big 12 gets down on one knee with a ring, say yes.

A Champions Only College Football Playoff? What Is This, Little League?

We’re going to have a playoff in 2014. That is pretty much known at this point. The question becomes what format said playoff will follow and what teams will be included. One of the biggest debates is whether college football’s postseason will include the top four teams or conference champions only. The logic is that it’s unfair to withhold a team who won its league over one that did not. I think this logic is foolish and should have been put to rest last year.

The goal of a college football postseason is to find the best team in America, period. I thought very highly of Wisconsin last season, higher than most. But it should have been abundantly clear by season’s end that they were not worthy of consideration for the best team in college football. At no point in the season did they have a pile of wins to validate the teams they were capable of beating. By the end of the year, they were beatable by three teams.

People HATED that Alabama was a national champion last year when they didn’t win the SEC West. Somehow, losing to the #2 team in America on your homefield, in OT, by a FG, in a game you outplayedthat team, discredits you from playing for the national title. Yet, losing to a team who barely qualified for a bowl game proved you worthy. That is what many college football fans would lead you to believe. If it wasn’t apparent at the end of the season who the best team in CFB was, go back and watch tapes of both LSU-Alabama games and ask yourself who looked more impressive.

But, this is not about last season or the continued debate on LSU/Alabama/OKST. This is about recognizing the foolishness that is “only a conference champ” can lay claim to #1 in the country. I said it for years and finally last year it came to fruition. Just because a conference has the #1 team doesn’t mean it can’t have the #2 team as well. Heck, just because a conference has #1 doesn’t mean it can’t have #’s 2, 3 and 4. You are judged nationally on how good you are, not how good the other teams in your conference are. Unless we rule out the possibility of upsets in sports and we want to stand behind the notion that the best team wins every game, every division, every conference, then it stands to reason that the best team in the country may not win its division.

This is not Little League or the sandbox. Not everyone gets to participate. This is major D-1 college football. You want conference champs to have a shot? Then make a 16 team playoff with 11 conference champs and 5 at-larges. You want to keep the sanctity of the regular season and keep the playoff small? Then you should be willing to give up the stance that only conference champs belong. Look no further than my Clemson Tigers last season.As ACC champs, those who support the “champions only” model would have had Clemson as the first team out of the playoffs last year. My, oh my, does that look silly now.

There are going to be years where some people aren’t happy with the four teams who qualify for the playoffs. Advocates of certain leagues will be upset when some leagues get multiple teams. The “conspiracy” theorists will certainly voice their displeasure time and time again and swear on all that is holy that it was “rigged”. It’s for the best of college football that we ask teams to beat more than just their league to win a national title. The best non-SEC team Alabama defeated last year was Penn State. Now, I don’t question the legitimacy of Alabama’s title. I think they would have beaten any team they played last year., but it would be nice to have to see them prove it.

So, take the top four teams in America. Get the coaches out of the voting process. Coach voting is a tragedy waiting to happen. Either nominate a selection committee of college football media or just have them vote as has been the norm and have the BCS decide the top four.

At the end of the day this has been long overdue. 4 teams, 3 games, 1 champion.

I love it.

Suspend Sammy Watkins? How Don’t You?

Today’s breaking news in the college football world is the arrest of Clemson star WR Sammy Watkins for possession of marijuana and Adderol without a prescription. He was arrested with Clemson soccer player Amadou-Tidiane Daniel Dia after his car was caught swerving and hit a curb. Upon approaching the car an officer smelt a “scent of marijuana” and a search found pot in the vehicle.

Now, the debate begins.

What does Dabo Swinney do with his team’s Heisman Trophy candidate for the season opener against Auburn? On one hand he could deny punishment and claim it is the first mistake Watkins has made, make him run some extra sprints in practice and let it all slide. On the flip side, he could hold the 18 year old responsible for his mistake and suspend him for the season opener, a major non-conference game on the national stage.

As a Clemson fan and student, I would hope he doesn’t get suspended. It is a huge game for the Tigers’ season and could be the difference in whether the team is a national title contender after week 1. The Auburn game is a must win for Clemson’s dim championship dreams because (and I hate to spoil the fun) a 1-loss ACC team isn’t a candidate for the national title game.

However, once I put aside emotion it’s a pretty standard suspension. Does anyone doubt for a minute that if this was a 3rd-string RB he’d be suspended before the booking photo was taken? Eighteen year olds make mistakes. That’s not news to anyone. With that said, getting arrested for possession of drugs, being behind the wheel of a car impaired and doing it on THE CAMPUS OF THE SCHOOL YOU PLAY FOR, well, that’s about as clear cut as it comes.

Sammy Watkins has to sit down for the Auburn game. Dabo Swinney cannot justify letting him play if he has any intention of running a proud, clean program in the future. This isn’t oversleeping a team meeting. This isn’t skipping a class or two. It’s an arrest for drug possession. That’s spelled S-U-S-P-E-N-S-I-O-N.

I’m not going to scream and yell if he’s not suspended. I won’t demand answers for the thought process. However, I will have a lot more respect for Dabo Swinney and the program he’s running if he does suspend his star and show that behavior like that will not be tolerated. Clemson football is the money maker of this university but it also reflects greatly on this university.

I love me some Clemson football, but I’m more concerned with the integrity of the name on my diploma than I am with winning a few extra games this year.

Boston College Dismisses RB Montel Harris

Boston College RB Montel Harris has been dismissed from the team.

Boston College has dismissed the school’s all-time leading rusher, Montel Harris. The Eagles released the injury prone Harris due to a violation of team rules, although the press release detailing the dismissal did not go into details about the team rules violated.

Harris only played two games last season due to a knee injury.

The running back had back to back 1,200 yard rushing seasons in 2009 and 2010 before suffering the knee injury in 2010. He may enter the NFL’s supplemental draft, although he is not considered a highly touted draft prospect.

Harris scored 30 total touchdowns in his four seasons at Boston College. The Eagles now have a gigantic hole in the backfield to fill.

Tank Carder Says that Tanner Brock is Transferring to UTEP

Is Tanner Brock UTEP bound?

Former TCU linebacker Tanner Brock is transferring to UTEP, according to former teammate Tank Carder.

Brock was on 105.3 The Fan in Dallas and said that his former teammate was transferring to UTEP. Brock led TCU in tackles two years ago, missed all of last season with an ankle injury, and was arrested on felony charges and dismissed from the team earlier this year.

Brock would have to sit out the entire season if he did join UTEP.

Information from CollegeFootballTalk was used in this report.