I was talking conference expansion yesterday with a Georgia fan who posited that the ACC upping its exit fee to $20 million pretty much kills any chance of the SEC getting Virginia Tech or FSU or Clemson.
Looks like we’ll end up with West Virginia or Missouri, he said, noting that he didn’t view Texas A&M and Missouri/West Virginia as adding much luster to the SEC, though the conference did enter this expansion mess in a stronger position than any other league, in terms of football (which is what’s driving all this change).
A couple of thoughts about all that. First, the only ACC team that’s made any noise at all about studying possible realignment is FSU, and while their president obviously was among those voting unanimously to increase the exit fee, that doesn’t necessarily mean Florida State might not still find it worth its while to pay the $20 million in order to join the SEC. I can’t really see any of the other ACC schools, like Clemson, paying that fee, though.
Whether or not there was a rumored “gentlemen’s agreement” in the past for the SEC not to add teams in states where a conference member already resides — and there’ve been reports there never was any such agreement — FSU would certainly add to the SEC’s TV star power, even if it wouldn’t bring in a new television market. And it would counter the addition of Texas A&M geographically.
But while Missouri might not seem all that sexy a choice from a fan point of view, it would bring the St. Louis and Kansas City TV markets with it, and that would also be pretty attractive to the SEC. Auburn could move over to the SEC East to balance the divisons, thereby also assuring the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry with Georgia continues to be an every-year affair.
West Virginia? Aside from being competitive on the football field, the SEC adding a program that the ACC didn’t want, and which brings very little in terms of TV reach, would justifiably seem like an also-ran choice.
Really, I think most of the SEC would have preferred to keep the status quo, but that has become impossible in the face of all the other changes going on.
So, best-case scenario, to me, is adding Texas A&M and FSU or Missouri.
Feel free to share your own views on SEC expansion.
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