Paul Finebaum on SEC realignment: FSU is ‘third’ of 3, behind North Carolina

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The Wednesday edition of the “The Audible” welcomed Paul Finebaum to the show. Bruce Feldman, Stewart Mandel and Finebaum discussed Alabama’s loss to Texas, what’s going on at Texas A&M, Georgia’s “no show” to start the season and much more. But Finebaum also weighed in on the potential for SEC expansion and what he’s heard about where Florida State and North Carolina stand.

(The interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.)

Bruce Feldman: Take Georgia out of it. If you’re an SEC fan, who would you be excited about that is trending up right now?

Paul Finebaum: Well, I think Tennessee is probably the one that you have to grab on (to) because they have one of the most dynamic offensive coaches in the country. And it’s also a program, Bruce, that has been dormant for so long. So when you see Tennessee on the national stage, I think it is energizing. …

But there has to be concern, though, overall on the SEC front if Florida can’t figure it out. … I mean when (Tim) Tebow says at the end of (Netflix’s “Untold”) “Swamp Things” (that) he walked in the stadium and just can’t look up because (the) 2009 (championship) is not there … it was ’06 and in ’08 in terms of national championships. And … how far that program has fallen when Stewart (Mandel) is picking them (to) win three games not all that long after they nearly won three out of four.

Feldman: Would that ratchet up the appetite for a (College Football) Playoff-bound FSU for your constituents?

Finebaum: Yeah, well, you know, I think as you look ahead … I think we’re getting into realignment. I think FSU has started winning at the right moment, even though we all know Greg Sankey is not going to bring a team — or, excuse me, a school, student-athletes, of course — a school in just because they’re winning games. It helps their stock and I think that’s a big deal, with FSU finally being on the national stage.

Although I think of the three schools that matter in the ACC, I think FSU is at the bottom of the most desired, favored nation list.

What I keep hearing from people is that nobody in the league that matters liked what they did at that board of trustees meeting and they felt like, do you want to invite a group that, you know, has an “Animal House” toga party right in the middle (of realignment) for everybody to see on Facebook Live? And that really went down poorly. I know I don’t think anyone really thought that was a great idea. But I think at least in the moment, it hurt FSU.

And I think another thing — and this is where North Carolina shines — is that I really think the SEC likes the idea of these prominent, premier state universities, like Oklahoma, like Texas, like Florida, like the University of North Carolina.

Stewart Mandel: We could go down a whole rabbit hole if we started talking realignment. So we’ll we’ll wrap it up there. Paul, thanks so much for your time. And, you know, we’ll look forward to these teams, mainly Alabama giving you more content for your show for the rest of the season.

(Top photo: Melina Myers / USA Today)

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