I’ve said before here that I don’t think the SEC should consider adding teams unless it expands its geographic (read: television) footprint — specifically, into the state of Texas.
It only makes sense to add teams in states where the SEC already has members if you’re filling out a 16-team league that has expanded the conference’s borders. Sure, a Clemson or Florida State would be a good match in terms of tradition and on-field product for the existing SEC membership, but the conference wouldn’t gain much in terms of market reach by adding them, although the Seminoles are a big-name program with a national profile.
However, if Texas and Texas A&M really do join a mass exodus of six programs from the Big 12 to the PAC 10, as has been rumored — and that’s a mighty big if, I think, where the Longhorns and Aggies are concerned — Mike Slive and the SEC presidents are going to be under increasing pressure to react.
(I still think that if it’s apparent the Big 12 is falling apart, Texas and/or Texas A&M might find the financial setup of the SEC, where teams can sell their own ancillary media rights to supplement the CBS/ESPN deal, more attractive than the sort of league-takes-all arrangement they’ll likely see in the PAC.)
If the Texas schools do go to the PAC, though, might the SEC still expand its geographic reach by peeling Virginia Tech away from the ACC? Does the new, richer TV deal the ACC recently signed mean it will be more difficult to lure the Hokies or Clemson or FSU into the SEC? If so, where else might the conference look?
Finally, does the SEC even need to expand, no matter what other conferences do? A good case can be made that standing pat with the 12 teams it has now be the safest move in the midst of all the ensuing turmoil as the Big 12 (and probably Big East) get dismembered.
One thing you can be sure of: The SEC will be looking to its financial bottom line in whatever it does. And that’s a good thing for Georgia.
This is going to get really interesting.