Let’s make a few things very clear right off the bat:
1. We at MrSEC.com do not believe the Southeastern Conference has any interest in expanding again anytime soon. Sources at multiple schools across the conference — in both athletic departments and in university administrations — have told us as much. Repeatedly.
2. We do not believe there are secret discussions taking place now that would lead to any existing ACC schools moving to the SEC. That includes any combination of Clemson, Florida State, NC State, Virginia Tech, Virginia, Duke or North Carolina.
3. We do not believe even a full-scale collapse of the Big East would lead to further SEC expansion. For argument’s sake, let’s say the Big 12 grabbed Cincinnati and Louisville from the Big East (to get to 12 schools). Let’s also say such a move would force Notre Dame into the Big Ten and that Jim Delany’s league would then grab either UConn or Rutgers from the Big East (to get to 14 schools) and tap into the New York television market. And for the sake of argument, let’s also say that the ACC would gobble up South Florida and either Rutgers or UConn (to get to 16 schools). Even if all that occurred — and we think it’s highly unlikely all that will occur — we still do not believe the SEC would expand further.
As we’ve stated before, we believe part of the reason conference commissioners are currently pushing for a playoff and considering doing away with “AQ” and “non-AQ” status altogether is a desire to slow down conference realignment. Most leagues have made changes in the last two years. They would like to gauge what impact those changes will have before making further moves. Nixing AQ status would kill off one of the motivations schools have had for jumping leagues.
All that said, conference realignment remains a hot topic. Fans still have questions. They wonder what’s coming down the line for the SEC and other conferences? Next year? Five years from now? Ten years from now?
Well, if/when expansion ever works its way back onto the SEC’s agenda, the same rule that applied to the last round of expansion will also apply to future moves — 75% of the Southeastern Conference’s presidents will have to vote in favor of expansion.
Last summer, nine of the SEC’s 12 presidents had to vote in favor of extending invitations to Texas A&M and Missouri (once those schools contacted the league and asked for admission, of course). SEC public relations guru Charles Bloom informed us today that “the granting of membership is by a vote of at least three-fourths of the (existing) membership” and that that rule remains in place.
So in a 14-school league, a three-fourths vote would equal 10.5 members “which then makes 11 the minimum vote total,” according to Bloom.
Why does this matter?
Last summer there was some debate over whether or not SEC members Florida, Georgia, Kentucky and South Carolina had banded together to keep out Florida State, Georgia Tech, Louisville and/or Clemson from the SEC. Some said there was an official, yet unspoken SEC stance against expanding into states already making up the Southeastern Conference football. Others said there was an informal agreement among those schools and that everyone suspected they would stand together if forced. Still others said there were no such plans to block schools at all. (South Carolina officials said publicly, for instance, that they would have had no problem if Clemson had asked for an invitation… though that could have simply been a case of saying the right things in the press.)
Moving forward, even though the league has expanded, those same four schools — Florida, Georgia, Kentucky and South Carolina — could still work together to prevent one or more of their in-state rivals from joining the SEC if they chose to do so. It would still only take four “nays” to vote down any proposed new member.
Thankfully, it does not appear as though we’ll have to worry about any expansion-related issues regarding the SEC anytime soon.
Knock on wood.