Should the SEC be proactive on expansion?

You are SEC Commissioner Mike Slive. You run a conference that is known for being proactive and not reactive to a potentially changing landscape of college athletics. For example:

**–It was former SEC Commissioner Roy Kramer who decided that the future would include divisional play and conference championship games. The SEC went to 12 teams in 1992 and created the first championship game. Now the ACC and the Big 12 have followed suit. The Big Ten and Pac-10 are interested in making the same step.

**–In the summer of 2008 the SEC stepped out and put together the biggest contract in college football history when it signed a 15-year, $3 billion deal with CBS and ESPN.

**–The SEC has now won four straight BCS national championships in football and there is a pretty good chance Alabama will be the preseason No. 1 in 2010. This is a conference that got ahead by looking ahead, by blazing its own path and not waiting to see what the crowd was going do.

There are reports that the Big Ten, the SEC’s biggest rival when it comes to the economics of the sport, is contemplating expansion. If the Big Ten adds only one team, even it is Notre Dame, the landscape does not change dramatically. But among the options the Big Ten is weighing, media reports say, is going to 16 teams and creating college football’s first super conference.

“That,” said Kramer, now retired and living in Maryville, Tenn., “Would be a game changer.”

The commissioners of the 11 Division I-A conferences are all gathered in Scottsdale, Ariz., this week for the annual BCS meetings. It is possible that Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany will inform his counterparts about his plans or at least the options that he is considering. Delany will speak to the media this afternoon. We don’t expect Delany to tip his hand to the media. I spoke to some people in Scottsdale last night who weren’t quite sure if the Big Ten’s plans are as advanced as some of the media reports suggest.

In any event, we do know this: If the Big Ten wants to add more than one team, and if some of those teams will come from the Big East, Delany must act soon. After the Big East got tapped by the ACC the league changed its rules. If a school wants to leave it will cost $5 million and the school must wait 27 months to join its new conference. So if the Big Ten wanted a new structure in place by the 2012 season and Big East teams are involved, it has to act this summer.

I tried to reach commissioner Slive to discuss this but was unsuccessful. But I did have a good visit with former commissioner Kramer (1990-2002) who put the SEC on its current path because of his ability to see way down the road.

“Of course it depends on what the Big Ten does, but as a commissioner of any conference you have to look at the horizon if the landscape is going to change significantly,” said Kramer. “You have to honestly assess what is happening and bring some real options to your presidents. If one conference is at 16, can you stay at 12? You have to take a hard look at it.”

This issue has so many tentacles but here is just one. Various media reports say each Big Ten member now gets about $22 million a year in shared revenue. Thanks to the new TV contract that went into effect last season, each SEC school will get about $17 million when the checks are handed out in Destin in early June. That’s about a $5 million gap.

What if the Big Ten expands to 16 teams and one of them is Notre Dame? The subscriptions to its conference television network grow exponentially.  It adds a conference championship game which would be very valuable. It will have incredible leverage in its next round of TV negotiations. What if the financial gap between the SEC and the Big Ten grows to $10 million per school? The SEC has a good thing going at 12, but does it stand pat?

“The tricky part is that we (the SEC) would have to broaden our (geographical) footprint to increase the revenue enough to justify the move,” said Kramer. “And that is not an easy thing to do.”

Here is some more simple math: If SEC schools now make $17 million each year, to add four teams there would have to be a minimum increase of $68 million (4 times 17) in revenue. Are there four schools out there that could bring in that much revenue?

And here is the really delicate part: Obviously if the SEC wanted to expand, the first phone call would be to Texas. Texas brings that kind of value and more.  But if Texas says no, what are the SEC’s real options?

Do they go to the ACC and take teams from a conference that just expanded? The ACC is currently in negotiations for its new television deals and the proposed numbers from the TV boys are not great. To be perfectly candid, the ACC as a football conference is a little vulnerable right now.

The ACC got hammered in the court of public opinion when it took three teams from the Big East a few years ago. Does the SEC want that kind of PR headache? Of course not. But it may have no choice. Hurting another conference would be bad. Doing nothing could be worse.

“It’s a tough deal. We got blamed for breaking up the Southwest Conference when we took Arkansas,” said Kramer. “But at the end of the day you have to represent your conference and its best interests. There can be some hard feelings.”

If the Big Ten stops after adding just one team, then this will be a relatively quiet process. If I’m in the SEC that is what I hope will happen. But if the Big Ten goes to 16 teams then, as Kramer said, it is the mother of all game changers.

And the SEC, led by Mike Slive, will have some very important and very difficult decisions to make.

Stay tuned.

 Please follow me on Twitter:

www.twitter.com/MrCFB

326 comments Add your comment

Reptiles Rule

April 21st, 2010
9:00 am

The answer is…NO!

Reptiles Rule

April 21st, 2010
9:01 am

Oh and by the way…first!

VolsnGoBlue

April 21st, 2010
9:02 am

Add texas, TAMU to the west, Clemson and VA Tech to the east. Pretty balanced additions, adds more of the DC tv market (with VA Tech), all of the TX market, and locks down every talent base in the nation but cali. Game over.

RomeDawg

April 21st, 2010
9:08 am

How do you expand without hurting another conference?

GatorinAthens

April 21st, 2010
9:09 am

I think the SEC East should add another team and subtract the Georgia Bulldog football team. Until they are relevant, replace them.

Bob-a-loo

April 21st, 2010
9:12 am

FSU, Clemson, Texas and A&M…..if you can’t get Texas, next would be Va Tech and UVA

Lowcountry Bulldawg

April 21st, 2010
9:13 am

Clemson and Florida State to the East
Texas and Oklahoma to the West

But, that aint happening, the SEC cannot bring in 4 additional teams. It dilutes what the SEC is about and remaining at 12 continues a tradition of football excellence.

RomeDawg, nice point.

Mikey

April 21st, 2010
9:17 am

Texas might not want to play in the SEC West…but then again who would?
Lots of other possiblilties-
How about East Carolina…or Marshall…UCF…USF….these make better sense that Texas.

Dawgfact

April 21st, 2010
9:23 am

Texas and TAMU would be great. Clemson,and VA Tech, IDK…adding Miami, as much as I hate to say it, should bring in some money.

RAMBLE ON!!!

April 21st, 2010
9:25 am

Stupid article, way to preach to the choir Mr. SEC football.

florabama

April 21st, 2010
9:26 am

Add Clemson, FL State, Miami, Texas, Oklahoma, Ga. Tech.

Give Georgia and Vandy to the ACC.

L. Bo

April 21st, 2010
9:29 am

the SEC should drop arkansas, move vandy to the west, and pick up clemson in the east

RAMBLE ON!!!

April 21st, 2010
9:31 am

trade GT for USC so someone in the East can beat UF.

Name

April 21st, 2010
9:32 am

Two teams that should definitely be considered are Louisville and Texas. These two teams are solid in both football and basketball…

RAMBLE ON!!!

April 21st, 2010
9:33 am

but Paul Hewitt still couldn’t beat the SEC pathetic basketball teams.

We’re stuck with him, so who cares.

I believe Bill King presented this scenario...

April 21st, 2010
9:36 am

…about a month ago – way to stay on top of “breaking news” Mr. CF – NOT – and you certainly are not the “next Furman Bisher”, try as you might…

Bradley G

April 21st, 2010
9:41 am

I hope both the Big Ten and SEC don’t increase to 16 teams. If either or both does, would the football schedule have to increase as well? Each team plays 8 conference games. If there are 16 teams (eight in a division), UGA would only play each team from the SEC West every eight years. What would happen to the great rivalries of UGA-Auburn, Tenn-Ala?

On a side note, if the football schedule does increase accordingly, what does that say to the argument of not having a playoff b/c of the number of games currently played?

jumbeauxtiger

April 21st, 2010
9:42 am

I agree with you Tony that if the Big Ten only picks up Notre Dame then the SEC probably should do nothing. If the Big Ten expands to 14 or 16 then I think the SEC should go after Texas and Texas A&M. Texas brings in more athletic revenue than any other college in the country. I’m not sure where A&M ranks in sports revenue but the university itself is one of the largest in the USA.

I’ve been to College Station several times when LSU played there in the late 80s and early 90s. It’s a great game day experience.

Geaux Tigers
Go SEC

lanier

April 21st, 2010
9:43 am

this is all bs, if you expand all you do is dilute the BCS Bowl revenue. come on this is garbage

CardDawg

April 21st, 2010
9:44 am

It would almost be interesting, just for the heck of it to see everyone go back to where they came from.

Revive the Southwest Conference and Big 8 to their original forms. Send Miami and Virginia Tech back to the Big East. Let Penn State be independent again, and the SEC and Big 10 be themselves.

Surprisingly, the old Metro Conference, had it played football, would have been a reasonably solid league with Florida State, South Carolina, Cincinnati, Southern Miss and Louisville.

mike shula

April 21st, 2010
9:47 am

add FSU and Miami to the East and Texas and Texas A&M to the West and declare the SEC winner the national champ each and every year.

mike shula

April 21st, 2010
9:50 am

Bill Curry would not support adding T A&M since the football season overlaps hurricaine season so never mind.

LOL

April 21st, 2010
9:50 am

Ramble On,

You could not even beat Iowa, UF would absolutely dismantle GT.

Hell, you could not even beat UGA last year and UF throttled them.

SOGADOG

April 21st, 2010
9:51 am

The SEC should make a preemptive move and add two teams. I would look at adding Va. Tech to the East and Texas to the West. These are quality programs in big states that dont have SEC teams. The TV market for the SEC would expand dramatically. Other alternatives include North Carolina and Texas AM. I would not consider FSU or Clemson because we already have SEC teams in those states.

AlwaysAVol

April 21st, 2010
9:51 am

Kind of makes you wonder if Charlie Smart knew something when he took the Louisville job…

AlwaysAVol

April 21st, 2010
9:52 am

I meant Charlie Strong. I guess the “Smart” was a freudian slip.

UT96

April 21st, 2010
9:54 am

The SEC should expand by two teams> Go after FSU and Clemson. They bring great fan bases and money to the table, while keeping the georgraphic integrity of the conference and tradition in tact.

Mark I

April 21st, 2010
9:56 am

The proof is in the pudding…..the last four National Champions have come from the SEC. Let the Big Ten expand to the Big Twenty…..if you don’t hang banners….who cares?

The SEC isn’t broken……..don’t fix it! BTW….are the bowl payouts included in those numbers? I think not……add those in and see where the SEC stands,

Worm

April 21st, 2010
9:59 am

If you’re a Dawg fan, you don’t want Clemson in the SEC..It gives them validity and us another recruiting headache.

Roman

April 21st, 2010
10:04 am

Add Texas, Tex A&M, Oklahoma and Clemson. The SEC East would be: GA, Fla, Tenn, S.C., Vandy, KY, Clemson, Auburn. The West would be: Texas, A&M, Oklahoma, LSU, Bama, Ark, Ole Miss & Miss ST. That would be the best conference hands downs. All of those schools would generate the reuired money, if not more. Plus you keep the TX- A&M- OK rivalry intact.

McDawg

April 21st, 2010
10:05 am

NO NO NO NO

maybe Clemson & FSU but lets not expand for the sake of expanding

RAMBLE ON!!!

April 21st, 2010
10:07 am

LOL,

you know nothing about Iowa, because neither does Mr. SEC Football who does your thinking for you.

I think they finished a bit higher than UGAg in the rankings.

[...] piece on whether the SEC should act now with expansion plans rather than wait to see what the Big 11 does. And here is the really delicate [...]

JB

April 21st, 2010
10:18 am

I doubt Big 12 schools would leave. On the flip, adding CU, FSU, Miami and Yech would work well. The ACC would be toast but it is what it is.

HBTD!!!

McDawg

April 21st, 2010
10:28 am

i think the Big 12 emergence is the best thing to happen to college football in the past couple of years-still wish Penn State had joined the Big East way back when that would have been great conference as well (PSU, WVU, VT, Pitt, Syracuse, Miami,BC )

ATLBadger

April 21st, 2010
10:28 am

Texas won’t go to the SEC due to academics. From an academic perspective, the administrators and prof’s there wish they were in the Big Ten, since all 11 members are AAU members. Granted I don’t think they will be joining the Big Ten. But if the Big 12 collapses, the Pac 10 is a much better academic fit for Texas than the SEC.

Vdawg

April 21st, 2010
10:29 am

No they don’t need to expand………let other divisions expand.

InStitches

April 21st, 2010
10:29 am

RAMBLE ON!!!:trade GT for USC so someone in the East can beat UF.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!! I almost had to walk out of the office i was laughing so hard at this. oh my, thanks for that one Ramble, i was getting a lil too sleepy over here!

kaput

April 21st, 2010
10:30 am

Add Texas and Texas A&M and call it a day, or at least go hard after them.

If the Big 10 adds Nebraska or Mizzou (or both), then the Big 12’s future would be up in the air. At that point, the SEC would look mighty attractive to members of that conference.

Texas and Texas A&M would have to be a package deal, you won’t get Texas without A&M. Let Oklahoma dangle in the wind . . .

Roman

April 21st, 2010
10:31 am

The Big Twelve schools would leave because part of this involves Nebraska and Missouri moving to the Big Ten and Colorado to the Pac10. The Pac10 would also get Boise ST, BYU, TCU, Texas Tech and Utah. That would leave 4 -16 teams “Super Conferences”, SEC, ACC, Big10 & Pac10.

Hardtruth Soldier

April 21st, 2010
10:33 am

Bring in Clemson, Ga Tech in the East, and Southern Miss, and Memphis to the west. The level of recruitment goes up, and Tech can take an annual A$$ kicking, while making UGA-Clemson relevant again. It also would draw alot of kids from the South and midwest to Memphis knowing they would have a chance to play in the SEC.

Roman

April 21st, 2010
10:34 am

Memphis, Tech and So MIss would not bring any money…and its all about the money!

Ormewood

April 21st, 2010
10:39 am

So of you people are nuts. East Carolina? Marshall? Yeah, let’s two teams from CUSA who are afterthoughts in their own state. Memphis? Why would the SEC want them? They already have that town with Vol and Rebel fans. Southern Miss? Are you kidding me? Yeah, let’s have three teams from the poorest state in the country that has no major cities whatsoever.

If you want to think outside the box, besides Texas, TAM, and OK, other interesting options would include West VA, Va Tech, UNC. I don’t think GA Tech would add much of anything. Maybe Clemson and FSU.

BobbyGodd

April 21st, 2010
10:43 am

SEC would not want Clemson…they already own the state with South Carolina and there simply are not enough people or tv ratings in that state to have two teams from S.C.. If they take Clemson look for GT, FSU, and even MIA to be the other three. Great football but you gain little in footprint. Footprint and ratings wise the SEC should go after Texas (no brainer), Oklahoma, North Carolina (may not leave because of basketball but they would give the SEC the Charlotte market), and Virginia or even Virginia Tech or better yet MISSOURI if still available after the Big 16 expands. Those are all connected to current or future SEC areas and would give the most tv markets/footprint.

jumbeauxtiger

April 21st, 2010
10:48 am

A requirement would have to be you must have at least a 70,000 seat stadium and you consistantly fill it up. That rules out Southern Miss, Memphis, East Carolina, Marshall and probably Miami. Anything less and the program is not really bringing anything to the table.

RAMBLE ON!!!

April 21st, 2010
10:49 am

Ormewood, GT would add class, which the SEC has none of.

…and someone who can beat UF which the East really needs.

HugoStiglitz

April 21st, 2010
10:50 am

I hope all of this happens. College Football is in need of a change and something like this could shake up the whole system. It would be fun to watch.

sleeze

April 21st, 2010
10:53 am

SEC already owns the state with South Carolina??? Are you freaking kidding? Shouldn’t your name be Booby Gold? Heck, move USC out of the SEC and get Clemson, Furman, Francis Marion, anybody would be a better rep than U-Suck.

Otto

April 21st, 2010
10:56 am

Collegefootball does not need to change, it is the best sport in the US as it is.

The Big Ten does have to make up some ground somewhere to compete for national titles. IMO their claim that time off reduces their rankings is not valid. The Big10 getting blown out in BCS title games keeps them from being on top.

winterDawg

April 21st, 2010
10:57 am

If you go 16 it should add Clemson and Ga. Tech in the east and add Southern Miss and Tulane in the west. I just can’t see seperating Texas from all those Big 12 schools. Geographically it wouldn’t make sense.
Other options, drop Arkansas to bring in Clemson, add southern miss and Tulane to make it 14. I know Tulane isn’t the sexy addition but it adds academic prestige and gives us two strong academic schools, one for each division.