The awkward collision of Florida State, the SEC and realignment amid the Orange Bowl

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MIAMI, Fla. — The 2 Orange Bowl coaches wrapped up nan accepted presser and photo-up, past made 2 very different exits.

Georgia’s Kirby Smart, two-time nationalist champion, walked retired by himself, not successful immoderate peculiar hurry, trailed by conscionable a mates of staffers.

Then successful a swirl came nan the entourage pinch Florida State’s Mike Norvell, encircled by constabulary officers and staffers. They made their measurement done nan lobby astatine nan Le Meridien Hotel successful a measurement that made onlookers wonderment what dignitary was successful their midst.

Florida State, aching to beryllium a powerhouse again, is acting for illustration one, putting itself astatine nan epicenter of big-time assemblage athletics. It’s suing its ain conference, an enactment that could change nan people of nan sport. And its squad and officials person spent nan week present successful nan beingness of a squad from 1 of nan conferences it could beryllium joining.

Or mightiness not be.

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Florida State vs. nan ACC: Understanding nan Seminoles' convention unrest

In immoderate quarters, Florida State fleeing to nan unfastened arms of nan SEC seems an inevitability. A taste and geographic fit. But amid group successful nan industry, who talk connected background, it’s a overmuch little apt proposition.

Georgia president Jere Morehead said successful August, amid nan latest information of realignment, he thought nan SEC was good pinch 16 teams. Morehead reflected nan sentiment of nan convention astatine large, and there’s nary denotation yet that’s changed. SEC commissioner Greg Sankey whitethorn make an quality present this week, but it will beryllium to support his existent team, not to tribunal Florida State. In portion because doing truthful would induce ineligible trouble. In portion because Sankey and his schoolhouse presidents conscionable aren’t emotion it.

This isn’t Texas and Oklahoma making it known — softly — early successful 2021 that they were unhappy pinch nan Big 12 and unfastened for suitors. The SEC besides wasn’t looking to expand, but not only were nan Longhorns and Sooners compelling additions, but Sankey and his presidents knew that if they turned them down past nan Big Ten aliases moreover nan ACC and Pac-12 would pounce. That made 2 very bully reasons for nan SEC to return them.

Florida State — and Clemson aliases Miami, were they to tag on — would not beryllium that. Their brands are good, but wouldn’t grow nan SEC’s footprint. (Yes, nan SEC was already successful Texas, but it’s a immense state, and having nan Longhorns and Aggies locked it down for nan SEC.) More importantly, it’s nan timing, successful nan lawsuit of some ace conferences Florida State is eyeing.

The Big Ten is astir to beryllium 18 schools and has its lucrative tv contract. The SEC is astatine 16 schools, is besides astir to commencement its caller TV woody and has been dealing pinch nan headache of shot scheduling, a taxable intertwined pinch its TV deal. Neither convention is excessively eager correct now to adhd 2 much teams unless they’re nan astir compelling ones retired there.

Notre Dame? Yes.

North Carolina? Sure.

Florida State, Clemson aliases Miami? Ehhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh?

But there’s besides nan measurement Florida State has gone astir this. From a nationalist standpoint it’s really refreshing. Conference realignment, a determination that affects truthful many, is almost ever a cloak-and-dagger affair, decided by a fistful of group without nan affected group (athletes, fans, coaches) having a say. Florida State’s management is doing this successful afloat view, almost each measurement of nan way. Great contented for those of america successful nan media world.

But for nan powerfulness brokers successful different conferences, it’s off-putting. It reeks of arrogance, and worries group astir really FSU would respond erstwhile it gets successful their league.

FSU is acting for illustration galore worried Texas would enactment successful nan SEC — and hasn’t yet during its indoctrination process. So far, nan Longhorns look for illustration an adjacent and problem-free partner. If you’re Sankey and others successful nan SEC, who person weighted nan comity wrong this convention complete nan decades, you wonderment really agelong that tin past nan much egos you bring into nan room.

Which isn’t to opportunity nan SEC won’t astatine immoderate constituent act. But it would only travel if its manus is forced. And moreover past it’s nary judge thing.

There is assurance successful Florida State circles astir nan Big Ten. It would beryllium caller territory for that conference, for one, but nan Seminoles would, successful theory, only beryllium portion of nan package. Were they to triumph nan assistance of authorities lawsuit it could free up each ACC school. North Carolina would beryllium nan biggest food acknowledgment to its operation of diversion and world prestige, marque name, and that it would grow nan footprint of some nan Big Ten and SEC.

There could besides ensue a high-stakes chickenhearted game: Would nan SEC fearfulness being dwarfed by nan Big Ten and having its territory encroached, and frankincense return FSU and different ACC schoolhouse arsenic a preventive measure? ESPN figures into this too: It’s paying FSU overmuch little per twelvemonth to beryllium successful nan ACC, truthful it doesn’t use from Florida State going to nan SEC. But would ESPN interest astir losing nan FSU marque to nan Big Ten and its tv partners?

There’s besides nan existent atomic scenario: an ACC breakup sparks nan long-discussed breakaway of nan large schools into 1 large ace league. Goodbye SEC, Big Ten, ACC, etc. Hello College Football League, a conglomerate of 30 aliases truthful teams, pinch everyone other near to their ain devices.

Realignment has shown america that tradition, regionalism and communal consciousness return a backseat to marketplace forces. And Florida State whitethorn beryllium forcing nan market, though nan process could return years.

Amid each this, of course, is simply a crippled to beryllium played. Florida State, depleted by opt outs, could make a connection by beating a Georgia squad that will still person astir of its starters, including nan quarterbacks. It could move nan needle for nan school. Not that Seminole players are successful nan loop.

“Not much,” protect lineman Braden Fiske answered erstwhile asked really overmuch he’s paid attraction to it. “It’s retired of our control. Let nan group grip it that person to grip it.”

Those group whitethorn beryllium present this week, wearing their suits and quarter-zips, plotting moves. Realignment will beryllium a continuous taxable arsenic agelong arsenic Florida State and nan ACC are successful court. Those successful nan SEC, meanwhile, are watching it pinch wary eyes, cipher judge what will happen, galore worried astir nan early of realignment. But cipher wanting to autumn behind.

 (Photo of Florida State coach Mike Norvell: Isaiah Vazquez / Getty Images)

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