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Expounding On Expansion: Grading The SEC Expansion Candidates

(This is the seventh part in an on-going series examining the possibility of SEC expansion from a business perspective.)

Eighteen expansion candidates ranked in nine different financial, academic and athletic categories.  That’s what you’re about to see.  (For a breakdown of the categories, click here.)

Our examination of the SEC’s potential expansion partners starts now… with the schools listed in alphabetical order:

SCHOOL:  BAYLOR BEARS

PROXIMITY: 2,164 total miles from Atlanta, Nashville and New Orleans
TV MARKETS: Adds Dallas (2,544,410 households)
POPULATION:  Texas has 23,507,783 residents
ACADEMICS: A good fit with SEC schools
FBALL/BBALL SUCCESS: 2 total bids out of a possible 20
DIRECTORS CUP SUCCESS: 33rd nationally
FERTILE RECRUITING GROUND: 49 five- and four-star football players in Texas this year
ATHLETIC SPENDING: 52nd nationally at $48,545,254 (bigger than just 3 current SEC schools)
FBALL STADIUM SIZE: 50,000 (bigger than just 1 current SEC stadium)

WHY THE SEC SHOULD BE INTERESTED: Baylor has the smallest football stadium of the 18 schools we examined.  Despite making recent improvements in football and basketball, they also rank dead last in terms of postseason bids over the last decade.  So why would the SEC have any interest in the Waco school?  One word: Texas.  Folks are quick to suggest that Texas and Texas A&M would likely be a package deal in any conference move.  But as we pointed out in Part Five of our series, Texas politicians forced Baylor and Texas Tech into the Big 12 back in the mid-’90s.  There’s nothing to say they wouldn’t threaten to cut the state funding of Texas and Texas A&M again should they try to leave BU and Tech behind.  So if it meant landing Texas, would the SEC be willing to take all four of the Big 12′s Lone Star State schools?  That’s a lot of fans and a lot of TV viewers.

WOULD THE SCHOOL BE INTERESTED: If Texas leaves the Big 12 and Baylor doesn’t follow, the Bears would likely be heading to the MWC, WAC or C-USA.  They’ll tag along with Texas if they can.

SCHOOL:  CLEMSON TIGERS
PROXIMITY: 1,076 total miles from Atlanta, Nashville and New Orleans
TV MARKETS:  Adds no new TV markets
POPULATION: Adds no new population base
ACADEMICS: A good fit with SEC schools
FBALL/BBALL SUCCESS: 11 total bids out of a possible 20
DIRECTORS CUP SUCCESS: 53rd nationally
FERTILE RECRUITING GROUND: Adds no new recruiting ground
ATHLETIC SPENDING: 38th nationally at $56,199,722 (bigger than just 3 current SEC schools)
FBALL STADIUM SIZE: 82,000 (bigger than 6 current SEC stadiums)

WHY THE SEC SHOULD BE INTERESTED: Clemson is a natural fit for the SEC in terms of location, fanbase, stadium size, and academics.  It’s no wonder the Tigers are often rumored to be heading to the SEC.  Clemson seems to be a no-brainer.  But there’s one problem — Clemson adds nothing new to the SEC.  The league already can claim the Palmetto State thanks to the membership it granted the University of South Carolina in the early ’90s.  If the goal of expansion is to gain new recruiting ground, new television markets and a larger population base, then Clemson doesn’t fit after all.  But if the goal is to simply fill out the roster and get to 16 teams — which might not be the smartest move from a business standpoint — then the Tigers would likely get an invite.

WOULD THE SCHOOL BE INTERESTED: For all the talk that Clemson is a better fit in the SEC than in the ACC, there’s never been a large push from the Tiger fanbase to bail on their longtime home.  And as we’ll point out when discussing each ACC school on our list, that league’s new pact with ESPN might make it more difficult for the SEC to pry a school loose.

SCHOOL:  FLORIDA STATE SEMINOLES
PROXIMITY: 1,150 total miles from Atlanta, Nashville and New Orleans
TV MARKETS: Adds no new TV markets
POPULATION: Adds no new population base
ACADEMICS: A good fit with SEC schools
FBALL/BBALL SUCCESS: 12 total bids out of a possible 20
DIRECTORS CUP SUCCESS: 15th nationally
FERTILE RECRUITING GROUND: Adds no new recruiting ground
ATHLETIC SPENDING: 17th nationally at $73,125,352 (bigger than 5 current SEC schools)
FBALL STADIUM SIZE: 82,300 (bigger than 6 current SEC stadiums)

WHY THE SEC SHOULD BE INTERESTED: Like Clemson, Florida State is a natural fit.  For years, Bobby Bowden and the Seminoles campaigned for a spot in the SEC.  Even in 1990, Bowden was quoted as saying that it would be “awfully hard” to turn down an SEC bid after fighting for one for so long.  But when discussions finally heated up, the FSU heirarchy opted for the more academically-respected ACC.  While the Seminoles would add nothing in terms of “new,” FSU is still one of the best brands in college athletics.  In addition, Florida reportedly supported efforts to get FSU into the league back in the 1990s.  If the SEC decides to raid the ACC, expect the first phone call to go to Tallahassee.

WOULD THE SCHOOL BE INTERESTED: FSU athletic director Randy Spetman didn’t duck questions about a move to the SEC during the ACC’s recent spring meetings.  That’s unusual in the current environment.  In fact, most ADs are so quick to shoot down rumors that those who don’t shoot them down appear to be politicking.  However, those same ACC meetings culminated in an ESPN contract that doubled the league’s annual television revenue.  Spetman might be quicker to nix SEC talk if asked about a potential move today.  Still, I would guess that there has already been some back-channel communication between representatives of the SEC and Florida State officials.

SCHOOL:  GEORGIA TECH YELLOW JACKETS
PROXIMITY: 728 total miles from Atlanta, Nashville and New Orleans
TV MARKETS: Adds no new TV markets
POPULATION: Adds no new population base
ACADEMICS: Better than most SEC schools
FBALL/BBALL SUCCESS: 15 total bids out of a possible 20
DIRECTORS CUP SUCCESS: 48th nationally
FERTILE RECRUITING GROUND: Adds no new recruiting ground
ATHLETIC SPENDING: 54th nationally at $48,061,053 (bigger than just 3 current SEC schools)
FBALL STADIUM SIZE: 55,000 (bigger than just 1 current SEC stadium)

WHY THE SEC SHOULD BE INTERESTED: Georgia Tech sits in the geographic heart of the SEC (for now, at least).  If not for Bobby Dodd getting upset in 1964, the Yellow Jackets might still be in the league.  In terms of academic reputation, Tech would immediately aid the league… which SEC presidents would like.  Most schools wouldn’t mind a few extra trips into the recruiting hotbed of Atlanta, either.  And surprisingly, Tech has had more football and basketball success (15 postseason bids in the last decade) than every school on our list not named “Texas” or “Oklahoma.”  But politics might play a role.  Some say that Vince Dooley wanted to get Tech back into the league in the 1990s.  Others say that Georgia (as well as Auburn) tried to block their possible return.  Who knows what the feeling would be today?

WOULD THE SCHOOL BE INTERESTED: Tech bolted on its own in the early ’60s.  It has fit well with the ACC since joining the league in 1978.  Just take another look at the Jackets’ recent football and basketball success.  The ACC is stronger academically and Tech is an academics-first kind of school.  In fact, it would join Vandy and Florida as the SEC’s third AAU member institution should it return to its roots.  Its athletic spending lags behind most SEC schools and falls more in line with ACC spending.

SCHOOL:  KANSAS JAYHAWKS
PROXIMITY: 2,310 total miles from Atlanta, Nashville and New Orleans
TV MARKETS: Adds Kansas City (941,360 households)
POPULATION: Kansas has 2,763,075 residents
ACADEMICS: A good fit with SEC schools
FBALL/BBBAL SUCCESS: 14 total bids out of a possible 20
DIRECTORS CUP SUCCESS: 72nd nationally
FERTILE RECRUITING GROUND: 6 five- and four-star football players in Kansas this year
ATHLETIC SPENDING: 26th nationally at $65,848,760 (bigger than 4 current SEC schools)
FBALL STADIUM SIZE: 50,071 (bigger than just 1 current SEC schools)

WHY THE SEC SHOULD BE INTERESTED: Basketball and Missouri.  The Big Ten is clearly interested in Missouri with its two large television markets.  But Missouri might be a better fit with the SEC.  If the league’s presidents arrive at that decision, an invitation for Kansas might help lure in the Tigers.  The Jayhawks would obviously expand the league’s geographic footprint to the North and to the West.  And don’t laugh, Lawrence is closer to the heart of the league than schools like Texas, Oklahoma State and Miami which have often been mentioned as possible expansion partners.  KU is also a member of the AAU which would please SEC presidents.  For a league that has struggled with its basketball reputation in recent seasons, adding Kansas would be a coup.  Imagine an SEC tournament final between Kansas and Kentucky.

WOULD THE SCHOOL BE INTERESTED: Probably not.  And I don’t think the SEC is prepared to make so bold a move, either.  Kansas is stuck in the same boat with Big 12 rivals Missouri and Nebraska.  The old Big 8 became a Texas-centric league the minute the Longhorns joined.  UT and Oklahoma take home the most money from the conference’s uneven revenue-sharing plan.  If pursued — and pursued hard along with one of their oldest rivals — KU might show interest if it believes it can make more money.  But unlike the other conferences eyeing expansion, the SEC has shown no signs that it’s willing to consider any and all options.

SCHOOL:  LOUISVILLE CARDINALS
PROXIMITY: 1,308 total miles from Atlanta, Nashville and New Orleans
TV MARKETS: Adds no new TV markets
POPULATION: Adds no new population base
ACADEMICS: Worse than most SEC schools
FBALL/BBALL SUCCESS: 14 total bids out of a possible 20
DIRECTORS CUP SUCCESS: 32nd nationally
FERTILE RECRUITING GROUND: Adds no new recruiting ground
ATHLETIC SPENDING: 42nd nationally at $54,438,214 (bigger than just 3 current SEC schools)
FBALL STADIUM SIZE: 57,000 (bigger than just 2 current SEC stadiums)

WHY THE SEC SHOULD BE INTERESTED: Like the ACC schools that are so often mentioned, Louisville is a natural “fit” for the SEC.  Whether the University of Kentucky would see it that way is another matter.  Louisville has a lofty basketball tradition, though the U of L’s future appears a bit shakier now that John Calipari has landed in the Bluegrass State.  Working against the school is the fact that Louisville was dubbed a Tier 3 institution in the latest US News & World Report rankings.  Louisville isn’t a community college by any stretch, but the SEC has only two Tier 3 schools in its current mix (Ole Miss and Mississippi State).  I don’t think that those presidents I’m always talking about would be thrilled with the idea of adding another.   That doesn’t mean the Cardinals wouldn’t get an invite, but they don’t seem to offer a whole lot of “new” to the SEC.  Combine that with the academic ratings and the odds appear stacked against this move.  And remember, Kentucky is already an SEC state which makes Louisville an SEC market by default.

WOULD THE SCHOOL BE INTERESTED: A move to the SEC would aid the Cardinals in football, and a just-completed stadium expansion project shows Louisville’s commitment to that sport.  Also as Kentucky seems to be passing Louisville in basketball, an entry into the SEC might put UK and U of L on a more even plane again.  Which is why I wonder if Kentucky would try to block an invitation to the ‘Ville.

SCHOOL:  MARYLAND TERRAPINS
PROXIMITY: 2,436 total miles from Atlanta, Nashville and New Orleans
TV MARKETS: Adds Washington, DC and Baltimore (3,428,210 households)
POPULATION: Maryland has 5,615,727 residents
ACADEMICS: Better than most SEC schools
FBALL/BBALL SUCCESS: 13 total bids out of a possible 20
DIRECTORS CUP SUCCESS: 28th nationally
FERTILE RECRUITING GROUND: 7 five- and four-star football players in Maryland this year
ATHLETIC SPENDING: 35th nationally at $58,686,748 (bigger than just 3 current SEC schools)
FBALL STADIUM SIZE: 51,500 (bigger than just 1 current SEC stadium)

WHY THE SEC SHOULD BE INTERESTED: Maryland has a lot going for it.  Maybe that’s why the Terrapins are being studied by the Big Ten.  Maryland’s budget ranks in the upper half of the 18 schools we examined.  It ranks in the upper half in terms of on-field success and Directors Cup standings, too.  In addition, Maryland is a very good academic school (an AAU member) which would add more than five million people to the SEC’s population base.  It would also connect the SEC to two very big television markets.  The SEC probably wouldn’t consider such a move, but Maryland represents just the kind of dynamic change other leagues are currently considering.

WOULD THE SCHOOL BE INTERESTED: Maryland was a founding member of the ACC in 1953.  Would it be willing to forego years of traditional rivalries for some additional revenue?  That probably depends on how much additional revenue the SEC would be talking about.  Here’s another question: Would the Terps be willing to spend enough money to keep up with the Joneses of the SEC football world?  Traditionally, basketball has come first in College Park, as it has in so many other ACC cities, so the answer might be no.  But I don’t expect SEC officials to call in the first place.  Even though they should probably think about it, if they’re forced to expand.

SCHOOL:  MIAMI HURRICANES
PROXIMITY: 2,454 total miles from Atlanta, Nashville and New Orleans
TV MARKETS: Adds no new TV markets
POPULATION: Adds no new population base
ACADEMICS: Better than most SEC schools
FBALL/BBALL SUCCESS: 11 total bids out of a possible 20
DIRECTORS CUP SUCCESS: 43rd nationally
FERTILE RECRUITING GROUND: Adds no new recruiting ground
ATHLETIC SPENDING: 41st nationally at $54,453,995 (bigger than just 3 current SEC schools)
FBALL STADIUM SIZE: 74,916 (bigger than 4 current SEC stadiums)

WHY THE SEC SHOULD BE INTERESTED: It seems that the SEC is already interested in the ‘Canes, if recent radio reports are correct.  It wouldn’t be the first time SEC officials flirted with The U.  Miami was a prime candidate to join the league back in the early ’90s despite its off-campus football stadium.  Miami is also one of the best “national brands” in college sports.  Pair the Hurricanes against any other school on the gridiron and you’ll draw viewers.  The school appears to be on a football upswing, too.  Perhaps most importantly to folks like Mike Slive, the Hurricanes are no longer Public Enemy #1 on the NCAA’s “Most Wanted” list.  While the ‘Canes add little in terms of “new” (thanks to the University of Florida, Miami can already be called an SEC market), adding UM would bolster the league’s academic reputation.

WOULD THE SCHOOL BE INTERESTED: Unlike their counterparts at Florida State, Miami officials quickly terminated any talk about a possible league switch.  They said quite clearly during the ACC’s spring meetings that their current home remains a perfect fit for their institution academically and athletically.  So can we completely rule out a Miami move to the SEC?  Of course not.  But those are some pretty loud denials coming out of Coral Gables.

SCHOOL:  MISSOURI TIGERS
PROXIMITY: 1,899 total miles from Atlanta, Nashville and New Orleans
TV MARKETS: Adds St. Louis and Kansas City (2,190,810 households)
POPULATION: Missouri has 5,842,713 residents
ACADEMICS: A good fit with SEC schools
FBALL/BBALL SUCCESS: 11 total bids out of a possible 20
DIRECTORS CUP SUCCESS: 36th nationally
FERTILE RECRUITING GROUND: 5 five- and four-star football players in Missouri this year
ATHLETIC SPENDING: 39th nationally at $55,619,509 (bigger than just 3 current SEC schools)
FBALL STADIUM SIZE: 71,004 (bigger than 4 current SEC schools)

WHY THE SEC SHOULD BE INTERESTED: For the same reasons that then Big Ten is interested.  Missouri offers two big television markets and a solid population base.  The Tigers, like Kansas, are an AAU member.  A move into Missouri would also push the SEC’s boundaries further west.  Already bordering on three SEC states (Kentucky, Tennessee and Arkansas), the southeastern “Bootheel” part of Missouri is as close to Oxford, Mississippi as it is to the Tigers’ home city of Columbia.  That’s four built-in rivalries for Missourians living near their state’s borders.  From a business standpoint, Missouri looks to make a great deal of sense.

WOULD THE SCHOOL BE INTERESTED: It seems that Missouri officials are so fed up with the Big 12′s revenue-sharing plan that they would accept an offer from the WAC if it meant more money.  For all the talk surrounding a Missouri-Big Ten marriage, the Show Me State borders just two Big Ten states.  And for a school that has put down most of its recruiting roots in Texas, a move into the SEC would at least allow the Tigers to continue to recruit in the talent-rich South.  Another reason to prefer a move to the SEC — spring sports.  Would you rather play baseball in the sun or the snow?  But, as is the case with schools like Kansas and Maryland, I don’t believe the SEC is truly interested in spreading its branches too far… even if there’s money to be made.

SCHOOL:  NOTRE DAME FIGHTING IRISH
PROXIMITY: 2,098 total miles from Atlanta, Nashville and New Orleans
TV MARKETS: Notre Dame is a national draw
POPULATION: Indiana has 6,313,520 residents
ACADEMICS: Better than most SEC schools
FBALL/BBALL SUCCESS: 12 total bids out of a possible 20
DIRECTORS CUP SUCCESS: 21st nationally
FERTILE RECRUITING GROUND: 5 five- and four-star football players in Indiana this year
ATHLETIC SPENDING: 27th at $64,699,091 (bigger than 4 current SEC schools)
FBALL STADIUM SIZE: 80,795 (bigger than 6 current SEC stadiums)

WHY THE SEC SHOULD BE INTERESTED: Are you kidding?  Notre Dame — regardless of recent football success — is the best-known, most-followed college athletic program in the United States.  Can you think of a single SEC school that wouldn’t sell out its stadium every time the Irish came for a visit?  In football or basketball?  There is no way this happens, of course, but that hasn’t stopped other leagues from having conversations with Notre Dame officials.  The Pac-10 has pursued them.  The ACC has pursued them, too.  The Big Ten has pursued them several times.  And the Big East actually landed every Irish program but football (though they did force ND to schedule three gridiron games per year against Big East schools).  Obviously, the SEC is closer to Indiana than the Pac-10, ACC or Big East, so distance should not be a big concern.  If Mike Slive and the SEC want to own the college sports world, they should make a call to South Bend just as everyone else has.  But they won’t.

WOULD THE SCHOOL BE INTERESTED:  No.  Notre Dame has a tradition that Southern sports fans should understand.  Just as SEC schools don’t like breaking with their traditions (cowbells, anyone?), the Irish faithful don’t want to give up theirs… with the main one being the school’s independent status.  And I’m not sure they need to give it up, either.  Notre Dame’s recent football problems have come since the school upped its entrance standards which means those woes appear to have more to do with academics than a lack of cash.  While a move to the SEC would no doubt aid Notre Dame when it comes to recruiting in the South, I’m not sure if the nation’s top Catholic university would be a cultural fit in Dixie.  If the Irish land anywhere, it will be the Big Ten.

SCHOOL:  OKLAHOMA SOONERS
PROXIMITY: 2,258 total miles from Atlanta, Nashville, and New Orleans
TV MARKETS: Adds Oklahoma City (694,030 households)
POPULATION: Oklahoma has 3,579,212 residents
ACADEMICS: A good fit with SEC schools
FBALL/BBALL SUCCESS: 17 total bids out of a possible 20
DIRECTORS CUP SUCCESS: 29th nationally
FERTILE RECRUITING GROUND: 4 five- and four-star football players in Oklahoma this year
ATHLETIC SPENDING: 9th nationally at $81,404,992  (bigger than 7 current SEC schools)
FBALL STADIUM SIZE:  82,112 (bigger than 6 current SEC stadiums

WHY THE SEC SHOULD BE INTERESTED:  Like Florida State, Miami and Notre Dame, Oklahoma is a national brand.  The Sooners were second best out of the 18 schools we studied in terms of recent football and basketball success.  Oklahoma spends like SEC schools.  Oklahoma has an SEC-type stadium.  And Oklahoma is an academic fit, as well.  The addition of the Sooners would also push the league’s boundaries further west, annexing a new state under the SEC flag.

WOULD THE SCHOOL BE INTERESTED: Only if things begin to unravel in the Big 12.  School officials have said that they don’t believe any school will really leave their league for the Big Ten, but that might be a case of whistling past the graveyard.  If the Big 12 takes a hit and OU starts to think that Texas might split, then it’ll be every man for himself… and Oklahoma would appear to be a good fit with the SEC.

SCHOOL:  OKLAHOMA STATE COWBOYS

PROXIMITY: 2,326 total miles from Atlanta, Nashville, and New Orleans

TV MARKETS: Adds Oklahoma City (694,030 households)

POPULATION: Oklahoma has 3,579,212 residents
ACADEMICS: Worse than most SEC schools
FBALL/BBALL SUCCESS: 14 total bids out of a possible 20
DIRECTORS CUP SUCCESS: 35th nationally
FERTILE RECRUITING GROUND: 4 five- and four-star football players in Oklahoma this year
ATHLETIC SPENDING: 23rd nationally at $68,816,645 (bigger than 5 current SEC schools)
FBALL STADIUM SIZE: 60,218 (bigger than just 2 current SEC stadiums)

WHY THE SEC SHOULD BE INTERESTED: If it means adding Oklahoma, then OSU needs to be considered.  One must consider the possibility that Oklahoma politicians would tie OU and OSU together in the same way that Texas politicos locked Texas with A&M, Baylor and Tech a decade-and-a-half ago.  Oklahoma State has had quite a bit of football and basketball success through the years and it’s a pretty solid brand.  But it’s not Oklahoma.  Also, the school is a US News & World Reports Tier 3 institution, which wouldn’t please SEC presidents.  To gain entry, the Cowboys would likely have to ride the coattails of OU.

WOULD THE SCHOOL BE INTERESTED: Mega-booster T. Boone Pickens has said there’s really nothing to talk about until the Big Ten actually makes a move of some sort.  Once that happens, OSU officials will need to wait a little longer to see what Oklahoma, Texas and Texas A&M plan to do.  There are plenty of folks who believe that those four schools could land in the Southeastern Conference together.

SCHOOL:  TEXAS LONGHORNS
PROXIMITY: 2,344 total miles from Atlanta, Nashville, and New Orleans
TV MARKETS: Adds Dallas, Houston, San Antonio and Austin (6,176,600 households)
POPULATION: Texas has 23,507,783 residents
ACADEMICS: Better than most SEC schools
FBALL/BBALL SUCCESS: 20 total bids out of a possible 20
DIRECTORS CUP SUCCESS: 6th nationally
FERTILE RECRUITING GROUND: 49 five- and four-star football players in Texas this year
ATHLETIC SPENDING: 1st nationally at $112,935,132 (bigger than every current SEC school)
FBALL STADIUM SIZE: 100,119 (bigger than 11 current SEC stadiums

WHY THE SEC SHOULD BE INTERESTED: This is THE target.  Notre Dame would be great, too, but there’s no realistic chance of the SEC landing the Irish (or approaching the Irish, for that matter).  So before wasting his time calling schools that “fit” the SEC’s current geographic footprint, Mike Slive should focus all his efforts on landing Texas.  Even if the Big Ten decides not to expand to 16 teams, the SEC should still consider chasing UT (and Texas A&M).  The Longhorns bring prestige.  They bring quality academics (though for all their bluster, they’re currently residing in a league that’s comparable to the SEC).  Also, since the SEC allows its teams to maintain their local media rights, Texas could join the league and still launch its own all-Texas channel.  Hooking the Horns would turn about 23 million Texans from Big 12 fans to SEC fans overnight.  And adding four Top 50 television markets wouldn’t hurt, either.  Forget the distance issues, Texas should be the SEC’s main target.

WOULD THE SCHOOL BE INTERESTED: Like Oklahoma, Texas would likely entertain an SEC offer if — and only if — the Big 12 started to crumble.  According to Harvey Schiller, Texas was ready to join the SEC on his watch, but the Texas legislature got involved.  But according to Texas’ president at the time, he didn’t like the SEC’s academic standards and nixed things from the get-go.  UT officials would likely squawk about academic requirements this time around, too, but as we’ll show in a future piece, the Big 12 isn’t that much better than the SEC.  In other words, Texas has gone “slumming” before.  So the real issue is money.  Texas gets an uneven (read: bigger) share of the Big 12′s cash than any other school.  But could it still make more in total revenue by jumping to the SEC, partnering up with the biggest and best football programs in the nation, and launching its own channel?  Maybe.  But for now, all the eyes of Texas will remain upon the Big Ten.  Texas could jump to that league, though doubtful.  More likely, the Big Ten will raid the Big 12 and leave Texas officials to consider relocation to either the Pac-10 or the SEC.  Once UT officials start to make their plans, you can expect Texas lawmakers to get involved.  If they force the Longhorns to take along several of their little brothers, then the Pac-10 and SEC might have to decide if UT is worth the trouble.  There are a lot of factors involved in this one, but Texas might be interested in the SEC depending on how things shake out.

SCHOOL:  TEXAS A&M AGGIES
PROXIMITY: 2,177 total miles from Atlanta, Nashville, and New Orleans
TV MARKETS: Adds Dallas and Houston (4,667,870 households)
POPULATION: Texas has 23,507,783 residents
ACADEMICS: Better than most SEC schools
FBALL/BBALL SUCCESS: 11 total bids out of a possible 20
DIRECTORS CUP SUCCESS: 13th nationally
FERTILE RECRUITING GROUND: 49 five- and four-star football players in Texas this year
ATHLETIC SPENDING: 22nd nationally at $69,955,181 (bigger than 5 current SEC schools)
FBALL STADIUM SIZE: 82,600 (bigger than 6 current SEC stadiums)

WHY THE SEC SHOULD BE INTERESTED: Don’t fall for the “Well, the SEC would have to take A&M, too” talk.  Texas A&M would be a solid addition to the SEC with or without Texas.  The Aggies boast a passionate fanbase, an SEC-like stadium, a rich tradition, and the Houston television market.  A&M’s alumni base is big enough that you could also throw in the Dallas television market (and perhaps San Antonio and Austin), if you chose to.  Academically, A&M is pretty darn close to Texas in most categories.  There’s a reason LSU’s Joe Dean wanted to help the Aggies join the league in the early ’90s.  They would have been a good fit.

WOULD THE SCHOOL BE INTERESTED: If the Big 12 starts to break up, absolutely.  A&M had more interest in joining the SEC than Texas did the last time around.  College Station’s close proximity to Baton Rouge is a plus.  And the Aggies are already in the middle of a 10-year series with old SWC foe Arkansas.  A&M officials would likely jump at an SEC invitation if the Big 12 begins to break up.

SCHOOL:  TEXAS TECH RED RAIDERS
PROXIMITY: 3,015 total miles from Atlanta, Nashville, and New Orleans
TV MARKETS: Adds no new TV markets in the Top 50
POPULATION: Texas has 23,507,783 residents
ACADEMICS: Worse than most SEC schools
FBALL/BBALL SUCCESS: 14 total bids out of a possible 20
DIRECTORS CUP SUCCESS: 57th nationally
FERTILE RECRUITING GROUND: 49 five- and four-star football players in Texas this year
ATHLETIC SPENDING: 62nd nationally at $42,256,045 (bigger than just 2 current SEC schools)
FBALL STADIUM SIZE: 58,930 (bigger than just 2 current SEC stadiums)

WHY THE SEC SHOULD BE INTERESTED: If you think Austin and College Station are a hike, grab a map and try to find Lubbock.  Tech has the smallest athletic budget of the 18 schools we studied, falling between Vanderbilt and Ole Miss in total spending.  Tech is also weak in the Directors Cup standings.  To make matters worse, SEC presidents wouldn’t like the school’s Tier 3 academic ranking, either.  There’s only one reason for the SEC to be interested in the Red Raiders at all and that’s Texas.  IF the Longhorns express interest in an SEC invitation and IF the Texas legislature tries to force UT into taking Tech, Baylor and A&M as a four-school package deal, the SEC will have to look long and hard at the dollars Texas can provide.  The value of the Longhorns (and the Aggies) might make Tech worthy of a throw-in bid.  That’s the decision the Big 12 arrived at when it formed in the mid-’90s.

WOULD THE SCHOOL BE INTERESTED: Tommy Tuberville might be, but it’s hard to believe folks in West Texas would be too pumped about playing teams in Georgia, South Carolina and Kentucky.  Then again, they probably weren’t too thrilled about facing off with Iowa State and Kansas State, either.  Like Baylor, Tech will probably tag along with Texas for as long as it can.

SCHOOL:  VIRGINIA CAVALIERS
PROXIMITY: 2,024 total miles from Atlanta, Nashville, and New Orleans
TV MARKETS: Adds Washington, DC and Norfolk-Portsmouth-Newport News (3,044,920 households)
POPULATION: Virginia has 7,642,884 residents
ACADEMICS: Better than most SEC schools
FBALL/BBALL SUCCESS: 7 total bids out of a possible 20
DIRECTORS CUP SUCCESS: 8th nationally
FERTILE RECRUITING GROUND: 14 five- and four-star football players in Virginia this year
ATHLETIC SPENDING: 28th nationally at $63,696,905 (bigger than 4 current SEC schools)
FBALL STADIUM SIZE: 61,500 (bigger than 3 current SEC stadiums)

WHY THE SEC SHOULD BE INTERESTED: Virginia spends money.  Virginia opens up new recruiting ground.  UVA also boasts a large population base and would push the SEC into the Washington, DC television market.  And SEC presidents would love to have a school like Virginia join the SEC Academic Consortium.  But there is a downside.  While the Cavaliers still rank among the nation’s elite in the Directors Cup standings (second only to Texas among the schools we studied), Virginia’s football and basketball programs have struggled of late.  From a business perspective UVA should be considered an automatic.  But more than likely, Virginia would have to be part of a Virginia Tech package deal for the SEC to consider extending an invitation.

WOULD THE SCHOOL BE INTERESTED: As a founding member of the ACC with a stellar academic reputation, it’s unlikely that UVA would be interested in leaving its longtime rivals to move to the SEC.  Cavalier officials might see themselves as being better fit for ACC competition than SEC competition.  And — as is the case with all the ACC schools — that new ESPN television deal might make any potential SEC sales pitch a bit more of a longshot these days.

SCHOOL:  VIRGINIA TECH HOKIES
PROXIMITY: 1,661 total miles from Atlanta, Nashville, and New Orleans
TV MARKETS: Adds Washington, DC (2,335,040 households)
POPULATION:  Virginia has 7,642,884 residents
ACADEMICS: A good fit with SEC schools
FBALL/BBALL SUCCESS: 11 total bids out of a possible 20
DIRECTORS CUP SUCCESS: 46th
FERTILE RECRUITING GROUND: 14 five- and four-star football players in Virginia this year
ATHLETIC SPENDING: 49th nationally at $50,863,680 (bigger than just 3 current SEC schools)
FBALL STADIUM SIZE: 66,233 (bigger than 4 current SEC schools)

WHY THE SEC SHOULD BE INTERESTED: Tech is a natural fit with the SEC.  Like Virginia, Virginia Tech would push the league’s boundary farther up the East Coast.  Tech’s biggest alumni base is in the DC area, so the SEC would gain a major television market by adding the Hokies.  The state of Virginia is also second best to Texas in terms of potential new recruiting ground (among the 18 schools we studied).  Unfortunately, Virginia Tech wouldn’t help the SEC in terms of its basketball reputation.

WOULD THE SCHOOL BE INTERESTED: That’s a tough one.  The Hokies spent years and years and years pining for membership in the ACC.  While Kentucky and Tennessee would no doubt develop rivalries with Tech, much of the Hokies’ fanbase has focused on potential ACC rivals for decades.  Making matters more complicated, former Virginia governor Mark Warner fought hard to gain Tech an ACC expansion invitation back in 2003.  He called upon the University of Virginia’s president to back the Hokies in league meetings, which he did.  So it’s difficult to imagine Tech up and leaving just seven years later (especially now that the league has doubled its television revenue).  If the Hokies did leave, it might be as part of a combo deal that included Virginia.  Would the SEC be interested in such backdoor wrangling?  Probably not.

SCHOOL:  WEST VIRGINIA MOUNTAINEERS

PROXIMITY: 2,179 total miles from Atlanta, Nashville, and New Orleans
TV MARKETS: Adds Pittsburgh (1,154,950 househoulds)
POPULATION: West Virginia has 1,818,470 residents
ACADEMICS: Worse than most SEC schools
FBALL/BBALL SUCCESS: 13 total bids out of a possible 20
DIRECTORS CUP SUCCESS: 50th nationally
FERTILE RECRUITING GROUND: 0 five- and four-star football players in West Virginia this year
ATHLETIC SPENDING: 45th nationally at $53,368,035 (bigger than just 3 current SEC schools)
FBALL STADIUM SIZE: 60,540 (bigger than just 2 current SEC stadiums)

WHY THE SEC SHOULD BE INTERESTED: West Virginia would be an excellent addition in terms of football and basketball.  Morgantown is home to one of the nation’s most rabid fanbases.  WVU can also open up the Pittsburgh market to the SEC via its alumni base and natural proximity to the Pennsylvania city.  That’s yet another way for the SEC to stretch its boundaries Northward.  But there are a lot of problems with a WVU candidacy.  The state is very small which means it’s not the most fertile recruiting area.  Academically, West Virginia is yet another Tier 3 institution.  Again, that doesn’t mean WVU is a diploma mill, but it might cause SEC presidents to think twice about handing the Mountaineers an invitation.

WOULD THE SCHOOL BE INTERESTED: Yes.  For all its athletic successes, West Virginia still sits in a precarious spot.  The Big East is vulnerable.  And while it might garner attention from the ACC should the Big East dissolve, WVU officials have to know that their small population base and their current academic reputation could cost them some expansion bids.  I’m guessing that the Mountaineers would accept the first thing offered them from the Big Ten (not going to happen), the ACC or the SEC.

So there you have it.  Eighteen expansion candidates broken down in nine categories each.  In our next piece, we’ll tally up our ratings and tell you exactly what the SEC should do on the expansion front.  If anything.

 


2 comments
david
david

What abut usf and ucf

jjdawg66
jjdawg66

I'd add Texas A&M and Tulane (we need a Western Division Vandy!), and move Auburn and Alabama to east.

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  2. [...] Roy Kramer, you understand the importance of truly expanding a league’s boundaries.We then graded those 18 schools in each of our nine criteria.  Hard data, pure rankings.  The goal?  To decide which schools would actually have the most [...]

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