Who’s next on the SEC’s expansion list? Here’s a scorecard

The Dogs didn't fare so well in the Dome against West Virginia, either. (AJC photo by Phil Skinner)

Georgia didn't fare so well in the Dome against West Virginia, either. (AJC photo by Phil Skinner)

There’s standard-issue velocity (think Jair Jurrjens), and then there’s college football velocity (think Craig Kimbrel). It was barely a month ago that Texas A&M began making noises about leaving the Big 12, and those noises have become all but a roaring reality. A&M has signaled its intent to leave, and the SEC has offered to provide a new home. All that’s left is for somebody to persuade Baylor — and perhaps other spurned Big 12 schools — not to sue.

The apparent threat of legal action delayed what was to be A&M’s grand announcement Wednesday, but the move figures to happen soon enough. And why would Baylor care what A&M does? Because the Aggies’ leaving could lead to Texas and Oklahoma and Oklahoma State bolting to the Pac-12, and by the time the exodus concludes the Big 12 might be reduced to three months of Baylor playing Iowa State. (Which apparently is also reserving its right to sue.)

Litigation, or the threat thereof, aside, the greater issue remains: Where does the SEC turn after it absorbs A&M?

The original thought was that the SEC could add a 14th team to offer geographical balance and call it a day. But momentum — and here we note again that momentum is a mighty wind — now suggests the SEC won’t stop at 14. The growing possibility that the Pac-12 will pick the plums from what’s left of the Big 12 could force to the SEC to go to 16 teams, or even 15.

And how, you’re asking, might a 15-team conference work? Well, there could be three five-team divisions. And how would three division winners fit into one conference title game? Only the best two would qualify. And how might the best two be determined? Good question. Conference record? Overall record? BCS rankings? Recruiting rankings?

For simplicity’s sake, an even number makes greater sense. So who might be the SEC’s 14th (or 15th and 16th) teams? Glad you asked.

Missouri: Heavy rumors link the Big 12 Tigers to the SEC, although it’s not entirely clear why. The Tigers have historically been better at basketball, and their recent run of football success might not stand the strain of the SEC West. Adding Missouri would broaden the TV base into St. Louis and Kansas City, but a countervailing theory holds that Mizzou sees itself as a better fit in the Big Ten. Chance it lands in the SEC: 50 percent.

West Virginia: Another heavily rumored name. If the intent is to stop at 14 teams, the Mountaineers would make more geographic sense than Missouri. They’d fit in the East, and they’d also serve up a slice of the Eastern Seaboard TV market. And this is a school that takes football seriously. (Witness the burning couches.) Of the teams on the SEC’s draft board, West Virginia would figure to be the easiest to convince. Chance it lands in the SEC: 65 percent.

Virginia Tech: An even more attractive candidate than West Virginia. The Hokies would offer penetration into the Washington, D.C., market, and they play BCS-level (meaning SEC-level) football. Still unclear is whether Virginia Tech, which lobbied hard to get into the ACC alongside Virginia only eight years ago, would split so soon. Chance it lands in the SEC: 37.5 percent.

Oklahoma: The Sooners are the greatest prize out there, but they’re believed to looking first toward the Pac-12. Then again, the SEC did approach Oklahoma last summer, and the Sooners are nothing if not pragmatic. The school’s inclination to trample on tradition — coach Bob Stoops has said super-conferences are the way of the future and that if the annual Texas-OU game gets lost for the sake of progress, so be it — could lead it southward. Chance it lands in the SEC: 30 percent.

North Carolina/N.C. State/Maryland: Any one of these would offer something approximating Virginia Tech, except that all have deeper roots in the ACC and none is as good at football. It’s hard to imagine the Tar Heels leaving the conference they and Duke control, basketball-wise; it’s less hard to picture Maryland and State wanting to get away from Carolina and Duke. Chance of landing in the SEC: 30 percent for Maryland; 20 percent for N.C. State; 5 percent for Carolina.

Georgia Tech, Florida State, Miami, Clemson, Louisville: Any of these might be welcome under ordinary circumstances, but it’s believed the SEC won’t add teams in states where it has already has a foothold. That said, desperate times could call for desperate measures. Two months ago, would anyone have thought Texas A&M would be SEC-bound in September 2011? Chance of landing in the SEC: 10 percent for Florida State, Clemson and Louisville; 5 percent for Georgia Tech and Miami.

And there’s your scorecard, folks — as of today. A week from now, Boise State might well have emerged as the hottest name on the SEC’s wish list. Although, owing to recent events, the school in Athens might file suit to bar the Broncos.

By Mark Bradley

Photos: Which team do YOU think would be a good fit for the SEC? Vote in our poll.

416 comments Add your comment

ClemsonBrad

September 7th, 2011
11:44 am

First for the tigers!!

rduck

September 7th, 2011
11:45 am

NC Dawg

September 7th, 2011
11:46 am

First for the Dawgs!

Mark Bradley

September 7th, 2011
11:46 am

Kudos in orange, Brad.

DawginLex

September 7th, 2011
11:46 am

WV it will be

good football
Basketball rivalry with Kentucky

BigTimeTechFan

September 7th, 2011
11:49 am

What about Tulane?

Curious George

September 7th, 2011
11:49 am

Will an ACC school be willing to hire soon-to-be-former UGA Coach Mark Richt after he gets canned or resigns to “focus more time on ministry and family?”

James

September 7th, 2011
11:50 am

I’m thinking West Virginia but hoping Virginia Tech.

CMatz

September 7th, 2011
11:50 am

Did you ever consider the possibility of adding another Texas team to the west? Go for Baylor or Rice so that we have a Vanderbilt style school in the west. If the football people got their way, the west would take Oklahoma and A&M. The east would take Clemson, fsu, and/or va tech. Who would be the weak team in the west? We’d beat each other so bad that there would never be another sec west team west team with one or less losses! Florida/UGA would still dominate for a half decade. I hope the sec considers one more small/rich school for the west.

Matt

September 7th, 2011
11:51 am

Basketball rivalry with UK? Because of one Elite 8 game?

Mark Bradley

September 7th, 2011
11:52 am

Well, UK and WVU do share a border. And Rupp’s teams did play against Jerry West.

dawgmatic

September 7th, 2011
11:52 am

Kentucky.

Wait, they’re already in the SEC? I hadn’t noticed.

Blazerdawg

September 7th, 2011
11:54 am

Anyone but WV or Mizzou.

NC Dawg

September 7th, 2011
11:55 am

GTBob

September 7th, 2011
11:55 am

It will be West Virginia. No one else really fits or there is too much holding them back. I’m surprised you have Oklahoma at 30 percent. I’m sure the SEC would accept them at any time but have they ever expressed any real interest in joining the SEC? It has always been about the Pac12 for them.

collegeballfan

September 7th, 2011
11:55 am

I agree Missouri is a better fit for the Big 10. Missouri is a member of the AAU as are all Big 10 teams.

Also agree that WV is a better fit for the SEC.

Dawglasville

September 7th, 2011
11:56 am

Curious George – They should. Richt can at least run a clean program, unlike 3 of the ACC programs.

BigTimeTechFan

September 7th, 2011
11:56 am

SEC should go hard for Oklahoma, OKlahoma St, & Missouri

Div 1
Texas A&M
Oklahoma
Ok State
Missu
Arkansas

Div 2
LSU
Miss
Miss St
Ten
Vandy
Kentucky

Div 3
Alabama
Auburn
UGA
Florida
South Carolina

Chris

September 7th, 2011
11:58 am

The sad thing is that as a Georgia fan I used to love going to the Clemson campus for games, but not South Carolina. And it always seemed to me that Clemson was much more SEC like.
Clemson = on campus stadium surrounded by campus buildings and lake
S. Carolina = off campus stadium in warehouse district.

Clemson = small prototypical college town
South Carolina = Columbia (too large for advantages of small town and too small for adv. of big city

Clemson = 13 ACC titles, 1 ACC division title, 34 Bowl games, 1 nationat title, 18 bowl wins
South Carolina = three or four bowl wins, 1 ACC title, 1 SEC division title

Clemson leads S. CArolina 65-37-4 and has won 10 of the last 14 meetings, even with SC in the SEC

Clemson = tailgating with the fallen leaves around you, the ESSO club, the downtown street
S. Carolina = tailgating in a railroad car at the warehouse district.

Clemson = 1 hour drive
S.Carolina = 3 1/2 hours on I-20

Yea yea yea, we already have a team in the conference in South Carolina, too bad Clemson1

Grimmshaw

September 7th, 2011
11:58 am

Mark, wouldn’t it seem reasonable for the SEC to look at Georgia Tech and Clemson as a means of preventing other conferences from gaining a foothold for recruiting into those states? Georgia Tech was a member of the SEC some time ago and Clemson is somewhat SECesque.

OrangeBrave f/k/a Billy Jack's BBQ

September 7th, 2011
11:58 am

Great article, which seems very realistic. More rumors floating around out there this week then during CF recruiting season. The possibilities are intriguing and endless.

Hope we can pick up one of the ACC plums or WVA.

Curious George

September 7th, 2011
11:58 am

If the soon-to-fired Mark Richt gets hired by UNC when it looks like UNC will then get invited to the SEC, would Mark Richt take that route so he could STILL be able to say he is an “SEC Football Coach” (as opposed to merely a Ford salesman and Nike paid “escort”)?

Cohutta Dawgman

September 7th, 2011
11:59 am

Anybody but Yech. I vote for FSU.

Lowcountry Bulldawg

September 7th, 2011
12:00 pm

Bring them all in! Currently 12 teams, you named 11. Thats 23 then extend the offer to USF. Gives you 24 teams

Then you have 4, 6 team divisions. Form your on conference. Implement playoffs. The winner of our Super Conference plays the winner of the NCAA’s BCS title game. Imagine the money they can make then.

dawginMemphis

September 7th, 2011
12:00 pm

I think it’s a shame that our Presidents are all but refusing to take a team like Clemson. I understand the footprint / $$ issue, but tradition and culture have inherent value as well–something that seems to be overlooked in this avalanche of mega-conference expansion. Also, if I were one of the Mississippi or Alabama schools, I might not be so quick to jump on the bandwagon mentality of not adding a school in an existing (eastern) state. Ole Miss, State, Bama, and Auburn all have to compete with an in-state SEC school. Why should Georgia, South Carolina, and Florida automatically have the luxury of no in-state conference rival. It just seems like we’re making a big mistake in our branding by not considering Tech, Clemson, or FSU.

Mark Bradley

September 7th, 2011
12:01 pm

Bring them ALL? Wow. That’d be one super conference.

Worm

September 7th, 2011
12:02 pm

Virginia Tech hands down..

boots

September 7th, 2011
12:03 pm

It should either be a football powerhouse – like OK or maybe OK State – or add a team that does well in both sports and would be a natural rival in the East – such as Florida State. I guess if $ is the only factor, and it sure seems like it is, then Missouri, VA Tech, or WVA would make sense. As for people getting hung up on the “Southeastern Conference” name, didn’t the Big 12 and Pac-10 put that concern to bed rather quickly?

Uga2002

September 7th, 2011
12:03 pm

Doesn’t matter who you add, they’ll own UGA.

Glenn

September 7th, 2011
12:05 pm

Shouldn’t your percentages come out to 100 percent when all added together ? You’re not a pie chart man are you ? I think it is neat when you can make a slice explode . Sorry not seeing WVU . I would bet they go after and land Va. Tech . Just makes sense . ACC never wanted Va Tech . It would/could at that point go after Syracuse which they wanted all along . If they choose 14 they then grab UConn and Rutgers . If not then Mizzou for the ST Louis and KC market .

Tide Rising

September 7th, 2011
12:05 pm

If we do go to a 16 team mega conference VT looks like the most obvious choice due to the tv market and the fact that its a football school. Mizzou borders 3 sec states so I can see that happening allthough its weird to see them in the sec. WVU is hard to see though and it really isn’t much of a market. There’s only about 2 million people in West Virginia and other than Tennessee who really would want to travel to West Virginia. I’ve been through Morgantown many a times on my way to visit relatives in western PA. and there aint nothing there I would go back for. I’ll be driving there next week to visit and then go to the Penn State game and its a good 12-13 hour drive to Morgantown.

Buckeye

September 7th, 2011
12:05 pm

I say Baylor.

At least they’re in the Top 25 in Football!

HA!

Shug

September 7th, 2011
12:05 pm

If the next team (note that I wrote team and not school) after Tex A&M is Missouri or OU or some other western school, would the SEC realign so that Auburn and Bama move to the SEC East? It seems like that would almost have to happen.

SEC Fact Finder

September 7th, 2011
12:06 pm

One big question remaining is, Do the presidents want 14 or 16 Now? The constant rumor has been 14, however the executive committee has met twice and 16 was their number. Who will be the other three? Who knows, but television markets are playing stronger roles than most think.

The St. Louis/KC markets are big as is the DC markets. Do not rule out the VT as it is very fluid and some ACC schools are wavering. Another scenario playing out is in the state of North Carolina.

Lowcountry Bulldawg

September 7th, 2011
12:06 pm

Sure the NCAA vs. XYZ Conference

Essentially creating a AFC vs. NFC approach to college football. The rivalries would still be in place essentially. The money would be through the roof. The NCAA would still have OSU,USC,Texas,ND,Michigan and Oregon. Plenty of talent left to play against. The revenue the conference the cedes from the NCAA would give the NCAA say 10% of the revenue they generate to offset any loses they may have incurred. The playoffs the superconference would have would rival the NFL and sponsership dollars would be huge. Imagine the buildup to that Title game!

swgaboy

September 7th, 2011
12:07 pm

Of those options the two schools I would want the least would be OU and WVU. It’s not that they aren’t great names and football programs. I personally just think the value of OU is overated. And I do not believe that adding another top 10-12 football program of all time exactly strengthens the conference. Because we have no set standard for deciding a national champ in college football other than voting in two teams that we *think* are the best and most deserving two teams to play for it all. Is that really fair to the SEC itself? And I can’t believe that adding WVU would bring the SEC more of a market share from a different part of the country than Missouri would. I think their markets are much more valuable than anything WVU can bring. But if I were Missouri or one of the potential ACC schools I would rather join the Big 10 than the SEC. The Big 10 is going to make more money in the long run and Jim Delaney, as irritating as he can be, will run circles around Slive or anyone else in Birmingham, AL.

MatthewH

September 7th, 2011
12:07 pm

Mark,
You do realize that Washington, DC is closer to New York than it is to Blacksburg, VA (home of Va Tech). So, I’m not really sure that Va Tech will bring in the DC market.

Tide Rising

September 7th, 2011
12:08 pm

Well from what I’ve seen so far it looks like its a consensus that VT would come and that we would then have A&M and VT for a 14 team conference. From there it may take another year or 2 depending on what the big 10 does with possibly inviting Mizzou to see where we would go from there. Mizzou looks like its the linchpin on whether we go to 16 teams and with their preference for the Big 10 we would have to wait before going to 16 teams.

Shug

September 7th, 2011
12:09 pm

Isn’t great that “the money would go through the roof?” I mean isn’t that the way we judge the success of college sports?

Dawg 96

September 7th, 2011
12:09 pm

Jeff

September 7th, 2011
12:10 pm

Bradley- what a complete moron….the last statement??????? lets see..last I saw we are 1-1 and we beat their butts worse the first time! you make me puke

BigTimeTechFan

September 7th, 2011
12:11 pm

Big-12 may look at staying together and adding:
LSU
Arkansas
SMU

SEC will add
Texas A&M and Notre Dame to make up for loss of LSU Arkansas

Lowcountry Bulldawg

September 7th, 2011
12:11 pm

Shug,

Money is the only reason why as illogical as that 24 team conference is would be the only reason they make the move. I agree I hate that it boils down to the almighty dollar, but that is the reality we are in.

DC Resident

September 7th, 2011
12:11 pm

MatthewH, Blacksburg is about 250 miles from DC, but there’s a huge VT alumni base in the DC area. That said, other than those VT alums, absolutely no one in metro DC cares about Virginia Tech.

Blazerdawg

September 7th, 2011
12:12 pm

Agree 100% Chris – wish we could give S Carolina and Arkansas back.

Would love to see Clemson, Ga Tech or Va Tech, and TCU to go with Tx A&M.

Tide Rising

September 7th, 2011
12:12 pm

Shug,

Its been mentioned that if the teams added are western teams such as A&M and OU or Mizzou then Bama and AU would indeed move to the east. That would make for one tough ass division. The west would pretty much be the LSU-OU show every year or really just the LSU division for the most part if it was A&M and Mizzou that came in. They wouldn’t win it every year but they would pretty well dominate the division while the east would be a bloodbath.

DAWG with two bags over head

September 7th, 2011
12:12 pm

Curious George,

Love your “escort” reference. I wouldn’t have been so polite.

Shug

September 7th, 2011
12:13 pm

Lowcountry Bulldog, I accept your response.

GTBob

September 7th, 2011
12:13 pm

Well from what I’ve seen so far it looks like its a consensus that VT would come

What have you seen that would suggest that VT would come? Their AD said they would decline an offer and they somewhat tied to UVA now after the ACC move. I don’t think VT would ever happen.

SEC Fact Finder

September 7th, 2011
12:14 pm

MatthewH

Look at the football numbers for college football in metro DC and you will see that VT captures a more of the viewership than any other college program in that market including UVA. VT owns the market for football in DC right behind Redskins in NFL and Georgetown in BB.