What Would You Do…If You Were The SEC?

In this Friday’s installment of “What Would You Do…” I want to tie into something that generated a lot of discussion this week both on the site and on numerous radio shows: super conferences.

If you were the SEC Commissioner, or even just one of the member institutions, what would you do about conference realignment going forward? Would you be the first to make a move for a school like Texas A&M? Would you be the first to try to expand to sixteen? Would you wait for another conference to make the move first? Feel free to take this discussion anywhere you want – these are only questions to get you started.

If you need some inspiration, here are my thoughts from earlier this week on super conferences. You can also hear my discussion with Tim Brando about super conferences here.

4 thoughts on “What Would You Do…If You Were The SEC?”

  1. I would add Texas A&M and perhaps W Virginia. I don’t think adding the Oklahoma schools would be beneficial. I think adding both those schools would be Win-Win. You strengthen yourself and weaken two conference rivals. Not just football, but you add 2 pretty good basketball teams to the mix. A&M is also good in baseball and other sports for both men and women teams.

  2. I think 16-team conferences are inevitable, a by-product of the continuing power consolidation in college athletics, whether some forces such as ESPN like it or not.

    If I’m running the SEC, one of the “haves,” I certainly wish to pick and choose from less stable, neighboring conferences such as the Big 12 (whose financial inequity renders it vulnerable) and the ACC (which significantly suffers financially from its lack of a viable football brand — something expansion was supposed to have solved, but along comes Urban Meyer to Florida, down go Florida State and Miami, and you’re left with an environment where Wake Forest can win a conference title. Great for balance, not good for national strength.).

    At the same time, the SEC has some disadvantages. Its perception as not being academically oriented probably precludes it from bringing in the likes of Texas and North Carolina, arguably the most valuable prizes in the Big 12 and ACC respectively. Two ACC members that most fit the football-oriented SEC profile, Clemson and Florida State, are in states where the conference already has a member, and I’m not sure whether South Carolina and Florida have de facto veto power over bringing both in.

    I certainly pursue Texas A&M as member #13, as it provides direct access to the market and recruiting wealth of Texas, and has a fan base whose culture complements the SEC and wants to be in that conference. For member #14, go east and pick up Virginia Tech, which does for Virginia and Washington, D.C. what A&M does for Texas.

    Here’s where things get interesting. Do you stop at 14, or go to 16, and if the latter, which are your two new members? While Oklahoma would be valuable, political considerations would require Oklahoma State tag along, throwing the SEC divisional balance out of whack. It might be more expedient to go after Missouri instead, the only BCS member in a fairly large state and one whose athletic program has largely underperformed (which makes Mizzou sort of similar to South Carolina, which has blossomed in the SEC). It would be a leap of faith to admit Missouri, gambling that adding the SEC brand would invigorate it, but it might be worth a try.

    Now for #16. With FSU, Clemson and UNC probably off the table, you could pursue N.C. State, but would North Carolina politicians allow NCSU to break free of its brethren in Chapel Hill? Not sure. As a wild-card, how about West Virginia, which has a statewide following that spills over into D.C., Baltimore and Pittsburgh (the Mountaineer diaspora) and probably doesn’t have the academic or population profile to be accepted by the ACC or Big Ten? WVU has had a heated rivalry with Virginia Tech in the past and is in a state contiguous to Kentucky. It might make sense.

  3. If I were commissioner, I’d do whatever I could to expand footprint and maximize media $$$ without diluting the SEC product. I would not want to be reactive, as you never know what could happen in a complex game like conference realignment.

    I would work to secure Texas A&M to the SEC West and … NC State to the SEC East. Two new states, two land-grant universities with competitive sports programs that don’t make the conference even more top-heavy.

  4. I’d take Texas A&M for sure. The Aggies help the SEC in every way possible. They expand to the Texas TV market, they have competitive athletic programs across virtually all men’s and women’s sports, they fit the culture of the conference, and they boost the academic perception of the conference. It is a complete match.

    Next, I would look east and north. North Carolina, NC State, and Duke are all possibilities in North Carolina. There are Louisville (doubtful with Kentucky already in the fold), West Virginia, and Maryland that would open up new TV markets. Maryland helps with the biggest market, but Washington, DC is not a college football city. You can tap Baltimore and Washington, DC, but the SEC might be better off going into a smaller TV market that watches more college sports (like Raleigh-Durham, the #29 market smack in the middle of Tarheel country).

    I think I would even consider adding Duke and North Carolina (better overall balance) together in the East and adding Texas A&M and Missouri in the West to go to a full 16 school conference. Adding OU and OSU creates too much imbalance between a very heavy West and a lighter, but still strong East.

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