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Was Clemson Really On Board With an SEC Invite?

When reading through the articles from Texas A&M sites about the SEC earlier this week, one line jumped out at me above all others from the Scout article:

In fact, my source claims that the SEC has/had Clemson ready to go and they were simply waiting to see if Texas A&M could get their ducks in a row and leave the Big 12.

A thought jumped in my mind: was anyone Clemson aware of this? All of this chatter is coming from A&M people and supposed SEC insiders. I haven't seen a peep from the Upstate of South Carolina about the SEC at any point this year.

So, I emailed DrB of the excellent Shakin' the Southland Clemson blog on the network. Was there any chatter at all from his school's fan base about an offer from this here conference? He kindly allowed me to quote his reply:

No, we heard nothing of the sort. Not even my inside sources.

What we know is that President Barker was on Swofford's committee that was exploring what the ACC would need to do if the offer came from the Big 10 or SEC. We've had no inkling at all that the Administration of the University would ever be willing to jump to a (this is what they'd say) "lowly sports conference that would dishonor our academic integrity and hurt our improved national stature."

Meanwhile the AD is all over it if the offer came. They'd be ready to jump real quick. So would I, and most of the fanbase. We have no allegiance to this conference. The bluebloods in charge on the academic side would balk all day long, even with the huge revenue increase, because they want to be like UVA and UNC and Duke and be associated with that academic stature.

That kind of crap has been Clemson's biggest problem for the last 25 years.

So it sounds like the Clemson brass has prudently thought about what they'd do if an offer came from the SEC, but no one DrB knows has said anything about an offer actually coming. It also sounds like the university administration and athletics department don't see eye-to-eye on the value of joining the SEC.

This only increased my skepticism about the stories of SEC offers for the Aggies. It's not difficult to keep bad news under wraps for a long time (see Jim Tressel and Georgia Tech about that), but keeping potentially good news a secret is much more difficult. Case in point: there have been leaks all throughout the Texas A&M program about people wanting to move to the SEC. Could Clemson keep not just an offer, but an accepted offer completely quiet? I doubt it.

Plus, would the SEC really extend a formal offer to Clemson on the condition that A&M comes too? That doesn't fit the general character of Mike Slive's management of the SEC, which is aggressive about media deals but slow and conservative about pretty much everything else. Plus, Slive participated in last year's conference bidding war only in reaction to what the Pac-10 was doing. It was not proactive about any of it.

So if the A&M writer's sources are wrong about the Clemson offer, how much else can be believed? Not much else, I don't think, which is why I remain thoroughly unconvinced that a Texas A&M move to the SEC is imminent. Besides, we should get plenty of warning before it happens from the battle royale that will go down in the Texas State Legislature. The politicians there will let us know way in advance.