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Ex-Navy Hoops Coach: “No Chance In Hell” Navy Enters SEC

There’s a new idea that’s been heating up the messageboards (and my inbox) the past couple of days — Navy joining the SEC as School #14.

Hold your laughter.  From the number of emails I’ve gotten on this one, a lot folks seem to think it would make sense.

First, who could complain about Navy?  Second, there are ex-Navy guys across the country who’d watch Navy’s SEC games.  Third, it’s a good school (academy, technically) and fourth, it opens up Maryland.

But it’s not going to happen.  As a matter of fact, we asked former Navy basketball coach Don DeVoe — who spent 12 years in the SEC before coaching the Midshipmen for 12 years — if he thought Navy would be a good fit for the win-at-all-costs SEC.  His take:

“There’s no chance in Hell the brass at Navy would ever go for that.  They just couldn’t compete at that level.  They couldn’t compete for SEC-caliber recruits (due to government-mandated height/weight and academic restrictions).  And there’s also the military commitment.  No kid who could play at Florida or Tennessee is going to sign up with Navy.  You don’t see many pro-caliber kids go that route.  (Navy) would have a hard time keeping pace with Vanderbilt.”

And that’s from a man who absolutely loves the Naval Academy… its academics and its athletics.

The Naval Academy is such a different beast from all other SEC schools — including Vanderbilt — that there are hundreds of issues that would have to be worked through.  Heck, let’s start with money.  While the SEC is one of the BCS leagues pushing for “cost-of-admission” scholarships and other stipends, it’s debatable whether or not service academy cadets could legally be given any extra cash by the US government.

And what about BCS splits, tax issues, television contracts?  Would dealing with a government-run academy be like dealing with a major land-grant university?  With the government involved, we’re guessing there’s the potential for a lot of additional red tape.

We asked DeVoe how Navy currently splits its Patriot League money in basketball and other sports:

“There is no money in the Patriot League.  The Army-Navy game is a great tradition and it brings in some cash, but there’s no way to compare the Patriot League to the SEC.  It’s just not the same.”

Speaking of Army, the Cadets actually went down the big-conference road — and we use the term “big conference” loosely — from 1998 through 2004 as a football-only member of Conference-USA.

Playing against schools like Tulane, Southern Miss, East Carolina, Houston and Memphis, Army compiled an in-conference record of 9-42 in seven seasons before putting an end to the experiment and returning to its current independent status.

Again, that was in Conference-USA, not the SEC.  While Navy is stronger than Army in football at the moment — and we predicted they would put a scare into South Carolina last week — the Midshipmen program is just not ready for the week-in, week-out grind of BCS-level football.

Navy’s schedule this year consists of Delaware, Western Kentucky, South Carolina, Air Force, Southern Miss, Rutgers, East Carolina, Notre Dame, Troy, SMU, San Jose State and Army.

Now nix eight of those foes and replace them with SEC opponents.  Knowing that Navy would keep its rivalries with Air Force, Army and Notre Dame alive, that would leave the Academy with just one slot on its schedule each year to bring in a patsy.

Now, at this point, some will no doubt point out that the Big East is looking at adding Army and Navy and that the Big 12 is rumored to have Air Force on its list of potential partners.  True enough.  Problem is — those league are desperate for survival.  They’ll jump through any and every hoop necessary just to keep themselves alive at this point.

The SEC is most certainly not desperate.

There’s a reason Army, Navy and Air Force haven’t been connected to the ACC, Big Ten, Pac-12 or SEC discussions.  There’s no way a healthy, wealthy BCS league would grab one of them.  And there’s no way the Naval Academy would line up to take such a tremendous beating year-in and year-out.

Look at the SEC’s profile, folks: Big, public universities located in areas where they are the dominant sports entity.  Think Missouri, Virginia Tech, Florida State, etc.  Not East Carolina, TCU or Navy.  Those are desperation fallback moves.

And there’s “no chance in Hell” of one of them happening.



Good Article,

but I'm amazed that you even needed to write that... were there actually people suggesting that Navy was an option for the SEC? They should have their internet and/or radio privileges revoked. Whats next, someones suggests the SEC is looking into UAB and Southern Miss?

That is the most absurd thing I have heard throughout all of this expansion talk, and that is saying a lot

We should add Navy, right? After all, this is the Sunbelt!! Wait, its not? Oh nevermind

Jamie Thornton
Jamie Thornton

sorry, that was makes a lot of people happy. not have.

Jamie Thornton
Jamie Thornton

OMG> If we're even going to bring up the name NAVY with SEC, can we please just add WVU right now. We can be done with all this crap. WVU can play in the eastern division. THis way we don't have to move anyone and makes a lot of people have(see article on UT coach). Morgantown also brings the Pittsuburgh market for tv's and they would join today. Can we just stop this and get on with football. The sec will never go past 14. If we can't add FSU or Virginia Tech..............please just add WVU and lets call it a day. I'm sick of all this. Mike SLive........please just read this and make it happen.


The only part of this article that I would contend with is the relevancy of Navy athletics to the issue. None of the military academies can compete in big time college athletics, but I don't see why that would matter in this case. I doubt that if anyone desired to add Navy it would be because they believed they could ever compete.

I'm not saying that Navy is a good choice, but I'm just saying that if Navy achieved the goals of increasing the national audience for games and brought the good academics I don't see why their competitive level would matter. And honestly I don't think they would be as bad as some people think. They are beating Notre Dame on a regular basis lately and I don't think anyone views Notre Dame on the same level as Vandy or at least not yet. Also they are going to bowl games every year, admittedly against poorer competition. Their advantage is the triple option offense that removes some of the athletic advantages that their opponents usually have. They are smart folks and so I don't ever see them going away from that type of approach.



Trust me... I was shocked that this came up, too. Not to offend anyone -- and certainly not the Naval Academy -- but this is the kind of idea that sounds good over a beer after work, but from a business standpoint it's just insane.

Now watch Navy get the 14th slot by dawn.



i think we're all tired of it

but thats not a good reason to just add a program if its not the right fit. Like MrSEC has posted several times, this is a move for the next 100 years... and if it takes waiting a year or two to land a program like FSU then thats the correct move to make



I think Navy's advantage is that SEC teams rarely see the triple-option. That would change if the Middies entered the league. Also, you can bet TV partners wouldn't want the SEC to add a team that would be drag on ratings -- like Vanderbilt in football. If fans think a team won't be competitive, they won't watch.

I've got to go with a guy who coached at Navy and who still lives in Annapolis. If Don DeVoe says Navy isn't a fit, I'll trust his take.

Thanks for reading,


No, I agree that Navy is not a great fit. I just think that Navy's competitiveness shouldn't be an issue here. The Army-Navy game is big for ratings or at least that's what I've been led to believe. And that is true even though neither team has been truly competitive in 40 or 50 years.

I think Navy is a little bit of a different animal compared to a school like Vandy because military personnel all over the country would be interest in that game. I may be wrong though because if Navy was a good draw then they would probably be on TV a good bit more now.


Navy makes ECU look like a slam dunk


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