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Expansion By The Numbers 4: Proximity

In the current wave of expansion, geography doesn’t seem to matter much.  In recent years we’ve seen Notre Dame join the Big East in all sports but football.  The Irish have been courted by the ACC as well.

Texas has flirted with the ACC, the Big Ten and the Pac-12.  In fact, the Pac-12 looked at expanding from the Pacific Ocean to the Heartland last summer.  The Big East — with Notre Dame, Marquette and DePaul already in tow for basketball — snagged TCU for football.

The Big Ten reportedly investigated Connecticut, Maryland and even Georgia Tech in 2010.

If there’s one league that doesn’t seem interested in skipping over vast patches of our country, it’s the SEC.  Arizona State won’t be lining up against Auburn anytime soon.  Ditto UConn and Georgia.

In Part 4 of our series on SEC expansion, we look at location.

This Category:  Proximity To the SEC Office in Birmingham

Why:  The goal of expansion is grow the geographic footprint of a conference.  You don’t do that by inviting neighbors.  However, the SEC has shown that if it’s going to expand outward, it’s not going to get too far outside of its comfort zone.  And that’s wise.  If there’s any conference driven by culture it’s surely the SEC.

Initially, we wanted to compare each school’s distance from three different points inside the SEC region.  Over the next decade, there are three cities that are scheduled to host multiple SEC basketball tournaments: Atlanta, Nashville and New Orleans.  About 20 minutes in, we realized it might be simpler to just compare each of our 35 target schools to one fixed point.  We found a website that calculates the geographic midpoint of multiple points on a map and doing that for Atlanta, Nashville and New Orleans will get you a point just west of Birmingham, home of the SEC offices.  Convenient.  And a time-saver.

Below are the distances from each school’s home campus to the SEC hub of Birmingham.  In this category, we ranked the schools from near to far.  Grover would be pleased.

 

Rank School Distance from Birmingham (Miles)
1 Georgia Tech 146
2 Clemson 272
3 Florida State 294
4 Louisville 366
5t Wake Forest 469
5t Cincinnati 469
7 Virginia Tech 491
8 NC State 528
9 N. Carolina 529
10 Duke 532
11 S. Florida 538
12 Missouri 605
13 Notre Dame 620
14 Virginia 621
15 E. Carolina 630
16t W. Virginia 676
16t TCU 676
18 Texas A&M 681
19 Baylor 700
20t Oklahoma 709
20t Oklahoma State 709
23 Kansas 717
24 Miami 745
25 Pittsburgh 748
26 Maryland 756
27 Navy 781
28 Texas 784
29 Kansas State 802
30 Penn State 838
31 Iowa State 852
32 Rutgers 936
33 Texas Tech 987
34 Syracuse 1044
35 Connecticut 1114
36 Boston College 1183

 

In case you’re wondering, the distances were kicked out by one of the online mapping services, using the shortest route available.  So when you see Oklahoma and Oklahoma State listed as being the same distance from Birmingham, remember that that’s how the crow drives, not how he flies.

* It’s interesting that Columbia, Missouri is really not as far from Birmingham as it might seem.

* Also interesting — that South Bend, Indiana is closer to the SEC than some might think.  It’s certainly closer to the SEC than it is to the ACC.

* Just for the sake of comparison, the Pac-12 stretches a whopping 1,574 miles from Seattle to Tucson.  The ACC reaches 1,504 miles from Coral Gables to Chesnut Hill.  It’s 1,072 miles from Lincoln, Nebraska to State College, Pennsylvania.  But the distance from College Station to Gainesville in the SEC will be just 953 miles.  Just.  Even though the SEC is expanding, it’s still a tighter collection of schools than any other major conference.

In case you were wondering, below is a look at the distance from the current SEC campuses to Birmingham:

 

Rank School Distance from Birmingham (Miles)
1 Alabama 58
2 Auburn 109
3 Miss. State 141
4 Ole Miss 185
5 Vanderbilt 193
6 Georgia 219
7 Tennessee 256
8 S. Carolina 360
9 LSU 399
10 Kentucky 404
11 Florida 421
12 Arkansas 555

 

Coming up on Saturday, we’ll continue with Parts 5, 6 and 7 of our simple little “Expansion By The Numbers” series.  On Sunday, look for Parts 8 and 9, followed by a summary post on Monday.

 


22 comments
papatiger
papatiger

Hate to admit it, but WVU is the SEC's best option if Mizzou is not interested. It's looking more and more like that. Leatherhelmet and other blogs are saying it's a done deal. The Big Least's meeting today isn't as much to save the conference as it is an exit strategy for their football schools. If they can get out of the 27 month wait and no legal issues, it could be a done deal this upcoming week. VT, FSU and Clemson won't leave ACC and the other SEC schools don't want to compete for the same turf in their state. WVU also is one of the few universities (and States) that can throw a lot of money at their program. When you really look at, WVU is one of few remaining good options to get to 14.

Red Thompson
Red Thompson

How about inviting WVU an excellent idea!!!

kfhonline
kfhonline

My personal vote would be for East Carolina. If not ECU then Missouri or NC State. Of course FSU is always a possibility. Also...another Texas university would be good (but not U of Texas).

strickinms
strickinms

I am impressed with all the work and numbers but I feel a short list has already been compiled. I think less than 5 schools are on it and I don't believe the SEC is in a hurry to select anybody.

AllTideUp
AllTideUp

Well, Terry Holland is quite a salesman. Time will tell if it can be pulled off. I'll say this, I don't think ECU is going to be included in the current round of SEC expansion, but from everything I've read(and that includes more than just what you provided) I do think that ECU deserves to be in a BCS conference a lot more than many of the programs that are currently in one. There may be a chance if the SEC goes to 16 and if they are concerned with getting cable subscriptions in North Carolina rather than just money from TV sets nationwide.

I've been told that you are more likely to see ECU gear being worn in Charlotte than you are to see gear from UNC or Duke or any other North Carolina school. That seems very interesting.

ECU's academics will also hurt them in this debate. I'm sure it is a fine school and that all these ranking systems you see are relative and are incapable of giving anyone a qualitative result on the actual school, but it seems university presidents see it differently. I think ECU is ranked a good ways behind even WVU and WVU would be the lowest ranked school in the conference it they were admitted.

Who knows what will happen though.

Paul
Paul

How can Virginia Tech be closer than North Carolina, NC State, and Duke? Virgina is the state ABOVE the state of North Carolina, so to get to Virginia Tech, doesn't the trip include a trip across North Carolina? It just looks strange although the angle on the dangle shows VT closer, but not in the mind. But my mind is just a bit warped. Love your work John. You ought to have a TV show, just make sure it is broadcast in Louisiana as well.

HoustonVol
HoustonVol

Hey ECU fan. I have mentioned many times that if the state of North Carolina was the goal for the SEC, then ECU needs to be considered. I agree with you that UNC, Duke and NCstate are long shots at best. The only possible get out of those three without the collapse of the ACC is NCST. So for new territory schools that are possible, there are only four logical choices; Mizzou, L'ville, WVU, and ECU. Yes we can dream about VT, but with all of the political baggage that they have in state, plus all of the academic ties to the ACC, they are not coming. So out of those 4, Mizzou is the best choice, and L'ville is the least (no real new tv markets) So if Mizzou says no, you next best choice is between WVU and ECU. That is when it comes down to splitting hairs. TV markets, and population growth. ECU. Known brand name and reputation: WVU. Academics: toss up. Recruiting: ECU. To me ECU has more potential than WVU. If we are making decisions based on where a school could be 20-30 years down the road, I would choice ECU. ECU is a lot like USCe was 20+ years ago. WVU is the same as they were 20 years ago, and that is not a bad thing. Unfortunately the items that they can't control will not change - TV markets. Plus, the SEC already has met their hillbilly quota with UT.

Rowdireptile
Rowdireptile

Spoiler Alert! It's going to be 1A.) North Carolina or 1B.) NCSU based on tv markets, new recruiting grounds (Florida has dipped into North Carolina heavily in the last couple of years) Academics, and North Carolina would be a amazing get in basketball, Kentucky vs UNC for the SEC tourney crown?

No mizzou, No okie state, Clemson, or FSU... UNC or NCSTATE.

Mama Nudos
Mama Nudos

Dude! Stop with all this expansion trash. You admit that people are tired of reading about it. They are!

Whether the SEC adds Missouri (or W.V.) doesn't really matter. Neither one will ever sniff the SEC Title in football. Nobody besides UK fans care about basketball and nobody cares about any other sport.

At the end of the day, we're adding another Ole Miss/irrelevant type team that can only hope to be a spoiler.

Chris
Chris

I think this is a great project, but this catgory is the most troublesome, because distance is not just a metric, but also about perception. There is no way that people in cincy, who look down on their neighbors across the river feel closer to Birmingham than people in Raleigh, nc. Part of this is due to history, culture, but also some basic things like weather. Basically my point is, it would be easier to have a team from 800 miles away east or west, than 500 miles north. While the pac whatever have rejected this, we see the same thing in the acc.....its easier to have schools 1500 miles apart north-south than have a team from further west of atlanta. (Im not arguing that the sec and big10 dont perpetuate this idea, but that i still think it would remain)
I dont think this category should be eliminated, for it helps to override misconceptions, but because these cinceptions do exist, I think this category should be weighted less than the others....or barring that, some factor increase like multiply north distances by 1.3

AllTideUp
AllTideUp

Dang John, you just decided to run a "writing" marathon didn't you? You feel like you're back in college?

hangtime79
hangtime79

Nice work so far John. You guys are definitely putting a lot of thought into this and breaking it down logically. Looking forward to the rest of the series.

AllTideUp
AllTideUp

I've actually made a drive from Bham to Blacksburg. I was just passing through actually and I didn't go to a game or anything like that, but I can tell you that Blacksburg is a lot closer than people think. It's not very far from Knoxville at all. Part of this is just the path of the interstate. I have no idea how far away it would be if this were based on nautical miles, but it's much more difficult to drive from Bham to any point in North Carolina than it is to just take the straight shot northeast to VA.

The Appalachian Mtns have something to do with the distance as well.

AllTideUp
AllTideUp

If it is a question of getting into North Carolina in order to pick up subscriptions for an SEC Network then I'd have to say that ECU is the only legitimate option. I know some people would call that a failure, but maybe part of this process is much like recruiting. Everybody wants the 5 star players, but the 5 star players don't always want you. If you know what you're doing though you can take a 3 star and make them every bit as good.

If it is a question of getting a program with the most potential then USF, I think, is the best option although that wouldn't net you any new cable subscriptions. It could conceivably become a more nationally relevant program and garner you better ratings and more dollars in that arena.

But I think either of these 2 programs are really only options if we are going to 16. Neither of these programs bring as much as Mizzou does right now. WVU might also be an option if we are going to 16.

UofA72
UofA72

Mama Nudos

Does that mean Nude Mother? I'm not good in Spanish.

if it does, she's probably beating the crap out of you for putting it on a blog that is supposed to be about SEC sports. No wonder you seem to be mad at everybody.

Notice I didn't mention expansion. Ooops, I just did. Sorry.

Brandon
Brandon

Let me take this one John, Thanks. Listen up my friend when you see something you don t care about DONT READ IT. When you come on to this site and complain about things you don't have the right to put words in anyone's mouth, I care about expansion and more than that I love basketball we all don't share your petty argument sentiments. I don't think you have the right to put words in our mouths and say some of the things you did. Football is the driving force in the SEC im not stupid but to say no one cares about basketball outside of Kentucky fans that is ridiculous. I bet Florida fans going back 2 back champions in the Tourney would have a few things to say about your argument. Im a Bama fan and I love basketball a lot Ive been a fan since I was a fan of anything. I love the Wimp Sanderson era the elite 8 run when Pettway was a senior, hell there are many memories I have of Bama Basketball.

ECU Fan
ECU Fan

If the ACC teams are smart, they will use their political influence to push ECU to the BIG EAST. The ACC doesn't want to see the SEC make a strategic pickup like ECU in their NC market. It could decimate ACC recruiting and TV share in the state. Also, the SEC flrting with ECU would be the only thing that would make an NC State so jealous that the administration would actually start to think about switching over to the SEC.

In a way it is a shame. As a North Carolinian, I feel the power center of Tobacco Road has inadvertently cut us off from major parts of our southern heritage, even more so now that we are adding so many northeastern teams. I wish the ACC (not the SEC) had the ability to go and pick up teams like Georgia, Alabama, LSU, Tennessee, and Auburn. That is merely a pipe dream. We will have to make due with Florida State, Clemson, and Georgia Tech to keep our southern heritage in tact. It feels a bit like our North Carolina culture is getting yankee-fied. A feeling that can only be described as uncomfortable and one that makes me want to go and take a shower. No offense to my northern friends.

brandon
brandon

The SEC has had 4 titles in the last 16 years that's 25% my friend a decent amout twice in the last 15 years in 96 and 2006 we had 2 teams in the final four so we are not just a football conf. Some of us love the SEC as a whole and i suggest if you do not then take your ball and go home don't ruin it for the rest of us who love more than just football. If anything I wish I could get more info on other sports here. No offense John. Why don't you quit putting words in others mouths and don't read things you don't care about. We love the SEC for everything it is and will be you my friend are simply a clown who needs to quit assuming things because we all know what ASSuming makes you look like. Keep up the good work John. Go SEC and Roll Tide.

AllTideUp
AllTideUp

I wonder about stuff like that. I guess you would be more familiar with NC politics than I would, but I would hope the powers that be wouldn't block moves that help individual schools and could bring more revenue into the state as a whole. The Big East would barely be an upgrade for ECU even if it happens considering all the trouble that conference has been through.

If ECU can pack out a 50K seat stadium then it would seem they already have a fan base comparable to UNC and NC St. Their stadiums aren't much bigger than that and they have trouble filling them. Not a lot of great football to watch in NC and it's pretty much been that way for a very long time.

And I agree with you about the Southern culture side of it. The ancestral home of Andy Griffith must not be conquered!!!! I just don't think I could live in that world.

Jason
Jason

NC certainly has a southern heritage, but politically and socially the state of NC is becoming more similar to a mid-Atlantic state than a southern state.

kfhonline
kfhonline

Hey Mam Nudos,

If you are so tired of reading expansion "stuff", why are you reading still reading this post?

Mama Nudos
Mama Nudos

Dear John,

Stop writing 10 sermons on a topic you openly admit you are tired of writing about and people are tired of reading about. Florida is playing Alabama this weekend and you would rather pretend to be a business man than cover the game. You write a blog, sweetheart. You aren't privy to anything important. Your "articles" are by and large public domain anyway.

Seriously stop,

Mama Nudos

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