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More Expansion? The SEC Should Just Leap To 20 Teams And Be Done With It

A few weeks back, Missouri AD Mike Alden said the he believed there would be more conference shuffling before the new college football playoff launched in 2014.  It sure looks now like he knew what was coming.

Over the weekend, news broke that the Big Ten was thisclose to expanding its boundaries with the addition of Rutgers and Maryland.  Big football names?  No.  But big television markets for Jim Delany’s Big Ten network?  You bet.  Not to mention this fact: the Big Ten will now have two more teams vying for spots in the six mega-bowls coming in 2014 to a sunny spot near you.

Cash, cash, cash.

Now, in theory, it’s possible that the Big Ten — Maryland moved today with Rutgers coming soon — will simply catch up with the 14-team SEC and the 14-team ACC in terms of overall roster size.  (It’s believed Connecticut, despite Boston College’s protests, will fill Maryland’s void in the ACC.)  But it’s hard to picture this stuff slowing down.  At this point, conference commissioners are simply diving on the floor for every loose coin they spot.  Presidents are in a panicked state and leagues and teams are moving too fast to stop and think about what they’re doing.

Oh, they’ll all wind up lining their wallets for a while, but whether or not that’s good for sports or individual conferences or schools remains to be seen.  The age of the super-conference appears to be at hand.  We, at MrSEC.com, could live with 14-team leagues, but 16 schools is just too unwieldy.  Not that that will matter to the conferences or their presidents.

SEC sources have repeatedly spoken to us of how difficult the “digestion” of two new teams has been.  Money has been gained, but much tradition has been lost.  Move to 16 schools and things get even messier in terms of what’s given away.  But with so much given away already why not just really go all in with expansion?  Just go crazy, Mike Slive.  Go crazy.

All of this is driven by football, of course, and traditionally lackluster football programs like Kentucky, Mississippi State, Missouri, Ole Miss and Vanderbilt have to hate the idea of adding more teams to the SEC mix for them to climb above.  The same goes for schools in talent-poor states like Arkansas and Tennessee.  But if money’s on the table, to hell with success.  Just take the cash, right?

Right now, it looks as though everything is about to go back onto the table:

 

*  Television negotiations for the conferences.  Rip ‘em up, re-do them.  Again.

*  The playoff plan and the revenue split for that television package.  Start from scratch.

*  Notre Dame to the ACC as a part-time member.  Not gonna happen if the ACC falters.

*  The Big East conference.  Everytime it replaces a founding member with a lesser name it just gets weaker and weaker.

*  Paying athletes.  This brings us one step closer to a new subdivision within the FBS.  The high-revenue schools would play by their own rules and would offer full cost-of-admission scholarships to their players.

 

And so on.  Chaos reigns.  Cats and dogs living together, etc.

What a disappointment.

Here’s hoping the Big Ten’s moves don’t cause other leagues to get froggy.  Here’s hoping everyone will calm the hell down, allow the playoffs to arrive and see how all the changes made to date actually work out… before changing again.

We believe Missouri and Texas A&M will be long-term positives for the SEC.  But we don’t know that yet.  No one does.  Not Mike Slive, not the school presidents he works for, not anyone.  Not for sure.  And the same goes for all the other leagues and schools making moves as well.

But it doesn’t look as though the power brokers in college athletics are going to take a deep breath.  It looks like they’re just going to take another deep dive into the expansion/realignment pool with no inkling of what awaits them in the dark waters of a super-conference era.

With Maryland out of the ACC, John Swofford’s league will make a play for UConn or make one last push for Notre Dame to join as a full-time member.  Either way, the ACC is destabilized again.  That will cause Florida State, Virginia Tech, Clemson and the rest to start looking elsewhere.

Well, if everyone’s going to rush into panicky moves, might as well just go all-in with ‘em, Mr. Slive.  Here’s our tip — just crush the ACC and go to 20 stinkin’ schools already.

Seriously.

With 20 schools, the money from television would be insane.  And in many ways it’d be like putting the old Southern Conference back together again.

In 1922, the league that eventually spun off the SEC and ACC included: Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Florida, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Kentucky, LSU, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, North Carolina, NC State, South Carolina, Tennessee, Tulane, Vanderbilt, Virginia, Virginia Tech, and Washington & Lee.  That’s 19 schools.

So why not just cherry pick the best of the ACC before Jim Delany and the Big Ten or Bob Bowlsby and the Big 12 can?  Throw caution to the wind — as if everyone hasn’t already — and just form a raiding party along the Appalachian Mountains.

We’re just spitballin’ here — much as the actual commissioners and presidents appear to be doing — but why not just go all in for Duke, North Carolina, NC State, Virginia, Virginia Tech and Pittsburgh?  Such a move would bring in new television markets, new recruiting territory, expand the league footprint, yada, yada, yada.

Then split the league into two 10-school divisions for football:

 

  SEC West   SEC East
  Alabama   Duke
  Arkansas   Florida
  Auburn   Georgia
  LSU   Kentucky
  Miss. State   N. Carolina
  Missouri   NC State
  Ole Miss   Pittsburgh
  Tennessee   S. Carolina
  Texas A&M   Virginia
  Vanderbilt   Virginia Tech

 

Now some will say this is ridiculous because some of those high-minded ACC schools listed above would rather join an expanded Big Ten… or because Pittsburgh is a shade north of Columbia, Missouri… or because Clemson, Florida State and Georgia Tech would be better fits in a new SEC.  Those people would be right.  And that’s the point.

All this is ridiculous.

The people running college sports appear to be drawing up league boundaries on bar napkins just like every Joe Sixpack fan, every mass media talking head, and every internet hack (here’s lookin’ at ya).

There has always been movement of schools from one league to another.  Evolution has always existed.  The sporting world is no longer evolving, however.  It’s making giant leaps.  Conferences today are attempting to slither out of the primordial ooze in one move and then start walking upright in the next.

We at MrSEC.com don’t believe that’s a good thing.  When schools who’ve studied one another and flirted for years get together — like the SEC’s schools and Texas A&M, for example — fine, there’s been some thought put into that one.  But when leagues simply make moves for the sake of grabbing a quick buck or out-maneuvering some other conference’s potential moves, that’s just reckless.

Never before have we seen as much conference shifting in such a short span.  Blame television, blame the economy, blame university presidents and conference commissioners who are more concerned with dollars than sense.

Whatever the reason, might as well just get all up in the stupid with everybody else.  Commissioner Slive, have fun.  Throw darts at a map.  Move to 15 or 16 or 18 or 20 schools.  No one knows how any of this will turn out anyway.  So have a little fun like everyone else.  Just start grabbing schools left and right.  By the time we learn if all these rushed moves are good or bad for the sport, you and your fellow generation of commissioners and presidents will be sitting on your back porches smoking cigars in retirement.

Get messy.  Somebody else will clean it up.

 

(And for the record, we have no problem with the Big Ten making these moves.  They seem well-reasoned, but if they set off a chain reaction of panicky reactions from other leagues, that’s the problem.)

 


23 comments
JeremyCain
JeremyCain

Clemson, FSU, and GT would not be fits in the SEC because they would not bring new t.v. Markets with them.

WarHog38
WarHog38

I've been on a lot of VT, NC St. and North Carolina Blogs, I've developed opinions I'll state here.  The administrators at VT are a bunch of intense ACC fans, they talk the ACC up to the max. Not much SEC passion by VT fans either. Anyone can say it means nothing. However I'd take Virginia. As far is North Carolina, NC State has a bunch of passionate football fans that dream of an SEC invite. North Carolina will always resent not having Duke anymore and they are use to being treated special in that ACC conference. I look at NC State as TAM. NC as Texas. I don't think Texas or NC would be happy in the SEC. Virginia and NC State are probably the best choices.  I'm from Arkansas, I have no hidden bias. I've driven through those places a couple times is it.

rogun
rogun

Good stuff John! 

 

I'm sure that I haven't studied it as much as you have, but I actually think 16 teams would make scheduling easier then it is today. Fourteen teams can work, but I think the craziness began when we expanded to have that many, because it's so unwieldy. It seems like 16 teams would only add some balance, as far as scheduling is concerned.

 

Twenty just seems like too many. A conference that large is really nothing more then 2 conferences under the same umbrella. For all the criticism Georgia has faced for having easy conference schedules recently, can you imagine the potential disparity in a 20 team conference?

 

Yea, I know you were being facetious, but it doesn't sound like it's so far-fetched, either, which I think we both can agree is unfortunate.

WarHog38
WarHog38

As far as what you wrote about what works best for a conference, the SEC probably passed it when it went past 12.   The SEC has now moved into the realm of being more like 2 conferences in very close association, that is when that 8 game schedule gets set.  Past 16 teams and even if going to a 9 game SEC schedule; you can forget the very close association part. The SEC would be 2 separate conferences, pods or however you cut it.  The SEC should now get that 16 team southern state footprint, STOP THEIR EXPANSION, then go to a 9 game SEC schedule. That should set the SEC for another 75 years. These limits should be written into SEC By-Laws!

AllTideUp
AllTideUp

I agree these leagues should go ahead and get it all done in one fail swoop.  I know you were being a little facetious John, but this seems to be where it's all heading anyway.  Might as well get it over with so everyone can adapt to the new order of doing business.

buddha22
buddha22

Just think what happens if deLoss dodds gets together with Jack Swarbrink and decides to consumate their flirtations in the B12 .... or the ACC? $$$$$$, especially in ACC. Imagine the ACC may be motivated to give ND/UT a little leeway with their networks. Obviously, the B12 would be picked apart then as it would be dead conference walking.

Tusk
Tusk

Bring back Sewanee! (Still the best fight song ever)

mowens75
mowens75

4 to 6 - 16 team conferences would not be bad. I do think the SEC should go hard after one of the Carolina schools (most likely NC State) and go after a Virginia school (Virginia would fit great and not V.Tech). Also think we should drop Auburn and MS State since we have 2 schools in those states already. After that then go after Oklahoma and Kansas. Then you would have some good rivalaries back and some new ones. Move Alabama to the east and each east team plays 7 games against division and 2 alternating games a year vs the west. They would play all 8 teams in the other division in 4 years. This would be a great conference. Big 10 should go after UNC and G.Tech to add to tv markets in the east/south. Big 12 should go hard after FSU and Louisville and then work on some of the other ACC teams. Pac 12 then can take some of the left over Texas schools and all is settled.

I4Bama
I4Bama

"Oh, they’ll all wind up lining their wallets for a while, but whether or not that’s good for sports or individual conferences or schools remains to be seen."

 

This is really the key.  The Big Ten is playing subpar football now.  But for being home to many states' banner-carriers and colleges with boatloads of money, it would be the Big East already.  They are watering down their football in the name of cash, something they already possess in stacks.  Furthermore, while the two teams belong to massive TV audiences that are not going anywhere, neither team carries any actual weight in those markets.  It is a short-term win that will seal their long term fate - irrelevancy.  Mike Slive should sit, smile, and have a Coke and some Golden Flake potato chips.  You are correct.

DanHogan
DanHogan

There are two stories that haven't been covered yet.  The first is divisions, but you guys don't care about that (Illinois moves over).  The other is number of conf games.  Don't be at all surprised if the B1G goes to 9 games.

BonzaiB
BonzaiB

I think you are being too conventional in your expansion suggestions. 2 x 10 team divisions in the SEC is not as good as 4 x 8 team divisions. The SEC Southeast division would have SC, UF, GA, Miss, Miss State, UT, Vandy and FSU. The SEC Southcentral would have Auburn, Alabama, La, Mizzou, Kentucky, Pitt, Virgina, Virginia Tech, SEC Southwest would have Texas A&M, Arkansas, Texas, LaTech, .......................

DanHogan
DanHogan

I'm not sure UConn to the ACC would be all that hasty.  That's been debated for years.  The hastiness comes if the Big East makes another odd move here.  That whole thing feels like a house of cards that could go either way.

Central_VAHokie
Central_VAHokie

 @WarHog38 Which VT sites have you visited to reach the conclusion that there is "not much SEC passion by VT fans"?  Because we'd give our first born to be 15 or 16 in the SEC!  The admin...that's another issue.  But the fanbase would LOVE to be in the SEC.

BamaWahoo
BamaWahoo

 @WarHog38 I'm a Bama born and bred UVA grad. I would be absolutely thrilled to be in the SEC. And while in theory I'd prefer for it to be UVA and UNC, I agree with your assessment about UNC's entitlement and the Duke thing. Perhaps UNC and Duke to B1G, UVA and NC St. to SEC, VT, GT, FSU, Clemson, Pitt, Louisville to B12. If I were king...

 

Poor Wake. No idea how this works out well for them. 

 

SouthernBoiSB
SouthernBoiSB

 @rogun I was playing around with it today & couldn't figure out a way to make a 20 team schedule.  I thought about 4 pods of 5 teams in terms of breakdown, but how could you divide the teams & yearly rivalry games?  Figuring that out would then allow you to see about how long it would take to cycle through everybody once.

& then, on top of that, what about the annual in-state non-conf. rivals some schools have (ex.  UGA/GT)?

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator

 @Tusk 

 

Any reference to Sewanee or the Tigers' fight song gets a thumbs-up around here.  Well played.

 

Thanks for reading the site,

John

SouthernBoiSB
SouthernBoiSB

 @mowens75 

& WHAT conference(s) will let Auburn & MS State take 2 games to play longstanding rivals?  Aub./Ala. = Iron Bowl (76 times)  Aub./UGA = Deep South's Oldest Rivalry (115 times)   MS State/Ala. = (97 times)   MS State/Ole Miss = "Egg Bowl" (108 times)

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator

 @BonzaiB 

 

I was afraid my attempt to point out the absurdity of all these moves would be lost on some, so thanks for your response!

 

I had no trouble with Nebraska moving or Texas A&M and Missouri or Syracuse and Pitt or Colorado and Utah... but at some point someone needs to take a breath and see how those moves will play out.  I really think the Big Ten's moves this week will only lead to more moves until we're eventually left with four 20-team conferences.  At that point, just toss out all tradition and cross the ol' fingers that that business model will work.  Ugh.

 

As always, thanks for reading,

John

WarHog38
WarHog38

 @Central_VAHokie Your Gobbler Country and Andy Bitter blogs come to mind, but I've been on others.  I have a comment on that Bitter-"Beamer and Terps' departure" article right now. It has a VT rub to it, It has sat on a VT blog for 24 hours not raising an eyebrow.  I put something slightly negative about Alabama on this Blog, I guarantee in a few hours I will come here and I will feel like a pit bull has me by the leg.  I made that mistake a few times years ago, that's sinful down here!   I'll take you for your word. I have nothing to settle with VT.   Your business, no more negativity from me.  Accept my apology!

BonzaiB
BonzaiB

 @John at MrSEC  @Tusk Okay, I'll admit that one has me stumped, which of course means it was really well played. I feel so uneducated.

BonzaiB
BonzaiB

 @John at MrSEC I was laughing about two sentences into your article. Think you have written about 60 articles on the perils of expansionism and where it could lead college leaders into traps. This was by far the best (in my humble opinion).

WarHog38
WarHog38

 @Central_VAHokie Yeah, I was a young man years ago and spent a summer in suspense wondering if Broyles & Kramer would ever make a simple decision for Arkansas to enter the SEC. The situation now is many times more technical, many more options.  Good Luck!

Central_VAHokie
Central_VAHokie

 @WarHog38 No need to apologize at all, I did not mean to seem confrontational.  Techsideline.com and vtscoop.com have been buzzing about the SEC since expansion-palooza began with aTm and Mizzou.  Techsideline even added a separate discussion board devoted exclusively to conference expansion.  It had died down a little until this Maryland to the B1G got rolling.  Normally this week we'd be bashing UVa and trying to figure out why we won't fire our OC.  Now?  We're all worried we'll be left behind in a basketball league.  There is a large contingent of the fanbase, myself included, that would jump at the chance to go.

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