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The Big 12 vs The ACC - Should Miami Jump Ship?

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Over the past week or so, a whole lot of rumors have begun to fly about a few ACC schools potentially looking to join the Big 12 and ditch the ACC. Most of these sprang to life right around the time FSU publicly admonished the ACC's new TV deal, saying that the conference has up till now failed to adequately market the school's football brand. While you would think that the selling of a football program to the public would fall more on the shoulders of, you know, the school/football program itself, there is work that the conference is responsible for. The ACC has long been regarded as a basketball conference first, and a mediocre at best football conference second. Now that these rumors are flying, let's take a brief look at why Miami should at least consider making the move to a football-first conference.

ACC football has, for the last few years, had very few great football moments. More recently, there is the sudden emergence of Clemson, the funny offense of GT making waves with the rushing game, but being a passing game laughing stock, the consistency of Beamer ball at VT, and the perennial preseason hopes of FSU before ultimately falling short. Amidst all this, there sits Miami. A once proud powerhouse of the gridiron, now rebuilding with a new coach, waiting on NCAA sanctions, and still trying to keep an air of the former greatness around the program. Miami has never won a conference title since moving to the ACC, yet here we are, wondering if a move will be made. SB Nation writer Bill Connelly paints a pretty good picture of the reasons why the Big 12 would invite certain schools, and to be honest, after reading his take it would actually make sense.

The logical, first reaction to a program in Miami's shoes leaving is to wonder why they would ditch a conference they have never won. As pointed out by @HurricaneStiz, who follows the Seventh Floor twitter account, Miami making this move would be akin to going to your local bar, striking out with all the single women, and then saying "Whatever, I'm leaving. This bar sucks anyways." It's a pretty apt comparison. Miami has for a while struggled to find a foothold in what should be an easy conference to win year after year. A lot of this is due to mediocre coaching, a lack of recruiting prowess, and a general malaise over the program. Of course all of that has been quickly reversed by Al Golden and his methods, with the program feeling strong than ever and on it's way back, but it still has yet to equate to more than a .500 season and another missed conference title. So why would Miami leave? Why bother? Well, there are a few reasons that would benefit the program immensely.

The first reason has to do with what drives college football from any angle, money. The Big 12 has more money than they know what to do with, to the point where they finally just said "We will never spend all this cash, so lets give a whole mess of it to Texas and see what happens lol." If you took Miami, a program with an aging, albeit still viable, name brand and put them in the middle of all that green, it could do wonders for the program. Facilities would improve, marketing would be everywhere, and the brand would do nothing but grow. The second pro for Miami making the move would be recruiting. Golden has proved that he can recruit the state of Florida with the best of them, and can also go outside the state to nab recruits also. He has ties in the northeast from his time at Temple, and has been establishing a pipeline in Louisiana as well. Given the money, the notoriety, and the chance to establish Texas/Kansas/etc. as a pipeline along with Florida, just think of what the school could become. As long as none of those recruits have the last name Brown, I think he would do alright. Finally, the competition is just better. Compare playing Texas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and the rest every year as compared to Virginia, BC, Wake, et al. You come out of a tough Big 12 schedule with a winning record, it tends to look a lot better than emerging from the ACC with the same record.

So will it happen? Only time will tell, really. Of course school officials are denying any rumors and saying a move is highly unlikely, but they have to say that. If they are smart, they are at least looking at the viability of such a move. In a perfect world, Miami would continue building and get back to a bit more than a .500 team in the ACC before making the jump, as moving within the next year or so may set them up for a bit more time "rebuilding" before they would be competitive, although the current team is largely unproven and could change a lot of minds. If the Big 12 does end up extending an offer to FSU, Miami, and whoever else they want, it would be a smart move for the schools to make from a football standpoint. Let the ACC keep their basketball, they just added Pitt and Cuse, they'll be fine.