FSU has to look past money to determine if the Big 12 is the right fit

The ACC spring meetings begin today and of course all eyes will be on Florida State.

The Seminoles have been the subject of possible expansion to the Big 12 because of money, television and geographic placement. But those wishing for this move — especially those in Florida State's camp — should probably pump the brakes a little bit, look past the dollar signs and look at the level of competition.

Florida State is not ready for the Big 12.

[Dan Wetzel: FSU trustee may have lit fuse on move to Big 12]

Yes, the Seminoles have a $2-plus million budget deficit and Big 12 money would erase that problem quickly. And yes, Florida State is in a desirable location, has a great fan base and could probably parlay a move to the Big 12 into its own television network.

But in terms of competition, Florida State is not ready to leave the comfy confines of the ACC where it is regularly favored to win the ACC Atlantic Division — though it hasn't won an ACC title since 2005 — for a high-octane, cash-laden conference like the Big 12.

The current Florida State program is far removed from the 1990s version that consistently posted double-digit winning seasons, had an NCAA record streak of 14 Top 5 finishes in the AP poll and were the among the consummate badasses of college football.

But things have changed since the Seminoles lost to Oklahoma in the 2000 BCS National Championship.

From 1990-2000, Florida State posted an amazing 120-15 record. Since 2000, the Seminoles are 93-50. Between 2001-04, they lost as many games as they did the entire 1990s. Yes, Florida State has won three ACC titles since 2000 — in 2002, 2003 and 2005 — but during those years the Seminoles lost five games, three games and five games respectively. In those same years, Oklahoma and Texas, the Big 12 Conference winners, combined to lose five games — total.

[Warchant.com: It's all about the money]

Recently, Florida State has enjoyed more success and seems to be trending upward. The Seminoles won 10 games in 2010 and nine in 2011, but they failed to win the conference despite being the overwhelming preseason favorite to win their division (also in 2009) and the favorite to win the conference last year.

And now the Seminoles want to take those disappointments to a conference that is just a step below the SEC? That's not to say Florida State couldn't get better. A change in conference might spark a change in the types of recruits the Seminoles are able to lure to Tallahassee. The excess money could be used to make improvements to facilities, which also would attract better players. And, of course, the television exposure would create a recruiting gold mine.

And Florida State would need that cash to keep up with the cash cow that is Texas and several other Big 12 programs that are currently making multimillion dollar additions to their facilities or waiting for big-time boosters to tell them what to build next.

That's not to say Florida State couldn't adapt to its new competition, but it wouldn't happen overnight, which would mean many more years of failing to live up to the precedent coach Bobby Bowden once set two decades ago.

Both coach Jimbo Fisher and the FSU Board of Trustees want to explore the option of joining the Big 12 and said as much in comments this weekend.

"There have been no official talks, but I think you always have to look out there to see what's best for Florida State," Fisher told the Orlando Sentinel. "If that [jumping to the Big 12] is what's best for Florida State, then that's what we need to do."

And Andy Haggart, chairman of Florida State's board of trustees, told Rivals site Warchant.com:

"On behalf of the board of trustees, I can say that unanimously we would be in favor of seeing what the Big 12 might have to offer. We have to do what is in Florida State's best interest."

[Warchant.com: FSU president's memo lists negatives on Big 12 move]

But is Florida State ready to take a step back while all of the major programs around it seem to be getting exponentially better every year? Or would it be better off staying in a conference where they know what they can do and what to expect every year at least until the Seminoles begin to establish some consistency?

Expansion isn't ending any time soon, so Florida State has time to really think about the move. But while it's seeing the dollar signs solving a lot of problems, it also has to think about the cost.

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