Blogs and message boards have been lit up this past week with reports that the Big Ten was going to invite Notre Dame, Nebraska, Missouri, and Rutgers. Most of the interest and debate on the GT boards has revolved around a couple of topics…
The Potential Impact on the ACC
The general concensus seems to be that the SEC will not stand by idly while the Big Ten expands and becomes a new super conference complete with its own television network. While the SEC will always have a strangle hold on southern football, an expanded Big Ten, with its own TV outlet, would very likely eclipse the SEC on the national level…especially when you consider the available TV and print media markets involved.
So who would the SEC grab in order to get to 16 teams and compete?
Many people throw out Texas, TAMU, Clemson, and Florida State. The problem there is that its very unlikely that the Longhorns would be willing to leave the pro-rated revenue sharing of the Big 12 in order to get an even cut in the SEC while also increasing their schedule difficulty. The SEC, quite honestly, just doesn’t offer enough to a program like Texas. And without Texas, you don’t get TAMU.
That leaves Clemson and FSU…plus two more. So who else do you look at?
What about FSU, Clemson, Virginia Tech, and Georgia Tech?
FSU still has some cachet left from their run of success in the ’90s and Jimbo Fisher has SEC roots. Clemson is readily acknowledged as the most SEC-like program in the ACC and has old rivalry ties to UGA. Virginia Tech is a quality program that plays physical defense and national exposure. And Georgia Tech was a charter member of the SEC with southern roots and old rivalries that could be renewed with teams like Alabama, Auburn, and Tennessee…not to mention UGA.
This would effectively castrate the ACC from a football perspective…
The Best Result for GT
Many people on the message boards seem to think that the Jackets would be included in the list of programs the SEC would want. The problem is that its not a given. There is no guarantee that the SEC wouldn’t go after a list like FSU, Miami, WVU, and VT. That would lock down the state of Florida while adding a more northern presence with solid programs like WVU and VT. The SEC could pass on teams like Clemson and Georgia Tech with the rationale that they already have enough presence in GA and SC by way of UGA and the Gamecocks. (GT fans have to admit that Atlanta is an SEC town most days of the week, with alumns from MANY SEC schools already in place…)
This is where the really interesting wrinkle enters the equation…
There are actually eleven teams in the Big Ten and their reported list of invitees makes Notre Dame the wild card.
If ND declines conference affiliation then the Big Ten can still take Nebraska, Missouri, and Rutgers to get to 14 teams. That would allow two seven team divisions. They’d be done.
But if ND accepted the invitation then the Big Ten would be sitting at 15…which might result in the need for one more team in order to get to 16.
And…bear with me here…Georgia Tech would be a very good candidate for that 16th slot for a couple of reasons.
1) Georgia Tech just joined the American Association of Universities. The AAU is an exclusive list of research institutes and membership is by invite only. There are only 63 AAU members unless I am mistaken. All are serious academic schools with real research functions.
2) Every team in the Big Ten is an AAU member. Membership appears to be predicated by inclusion in the AAU. Rutgers, Nebraska, and Missouri are AAU members and Notre Dame has an unassailable academic reputation as well. GT would be a exceptional academic fit for the Big Ten.
3) Georgia Tech would provide an “in” to the Atlanta television market, which would be very attractive to the Big Ten television network.
4) Georgia Tech just won the ACC title and played in a BCS bowl, providing football credentials that could be sold during a bid to pull the Jackets into the Big Ten as a competitor. (The Jackets would also contribute mightily in basketball and baseball as well…)
Its All Very Interesting…
Its obvious that there are strong arguments to support Tech’s inclusion in either an expanded SEC or Big Ten.
Its great debate fodder and I’ve read some really fun message board threads the past few days as Tech fans lobby for one direction or the other.
And at the end of the day there is one central factor that everyone agrees on…
If the Big Ten and SEC expand, GT needs to be involved with one or the other. We cannot sit idly by while the ACC gets left in the dust and relegated to a basketball conference with a few football leftovers playing a diminished schedule.
I personally think the Big Ten is the best fit for Georgia Tech academically and financially but the allure of a return to our SEC roots is a huge factor as well.
Should be an interesting Summer!