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Which Conference Will Win The Realignment War? It Depends On Your Definition Of “Win”

sec-logo-over-big-ten-logo“What are you hearing about conference expansion?”

“Any news on Florida State?”

“Would the SEC really prefer North Carolina and Duke over Virginia Tech and NC State?”

“They’re saying on Twitter that an announcement from the Big Ten could come today… you hearing that?”

If you ever wanted an idea of what kinds of emails arrive at the inbox each day (aside from the obligatory hate mail), now you know.  Expansion, expansion, expansion.  What are you hearing?  When will it happen?  Who’ll move where?

Day after day, we get mostly the same questions.  Which is fine, I try to answer them all.  But on Thursday a fresh query arrived:  “Regardless of what some people say about the Big Ten getting ahead of the SEC, don’t you think, too, that Mike Slive knows exactly how to work around Jim Delany?”

That’s a good one.  But unfortunately, I don’t share the emailer’s pro-SEC enthusiasm.  The reason?  When it comes to the next round of conference expansion and realignment, Delany’s sales pitch will have two advantages over Slive’s.  From how I look at it, the Big Ten will likely be the “winner” in all this mess.  But that depends on how you define “winner,” of course.  More on that in a minute.  First, those two face cards that Delany currently holds…


Advantage One: The Big Ten has the only successful television network of its kind. 

Initially, the Big Ten Network — 51% of which is owned by FOX — struggled to gain cable and satellite carriage when it launched in September of 2007.  By the end of 2008, however, more and more cable and satellite providers had picked it up (more than 300 now carry the network), and millions of dollars in subscriber fees were already rolling in.  The network turned a profit in its second year.

You might remember that the SEC used the possibility of starting its own TV network as leverage in negotiations with CBS and ESPN in the spring and summer of 2008.  Slive and company sufficiently scared those two networks into cutting pair of 15-year contracts that would guarantee the league $3 billion dollars over the life of the deals.

Those contracts were a good thing for the league.  They changed the way all leagues did business and nearly every major conference has used the SEC’s jackpot as a benchmark in their own TV negotiations since.  But while the SEC has been caught and passed on the money front, the league still gets more national coverage of more games than any other conference.  Those are the positives.  The negative is that Slive and his television advisers cut their deals before the Big Ten Network exploded.  In early-2008, a league-owned network still appeared risky .  By 2013, a well-run league-owned network looks like a gold mine.  The emphasis is on “well-run.”

To date, copycats conferences and schools haven’t been able to duplicate the Big Ten Network’s success.

ESPN and Texas partnered to create the Longhorn Network which has been an unmitigated disaster.  It played a large role in driving multiple schools away from the Big XII conference.  It helped bring about the end of Texas’ long, storied rivalry with Texas A&M.  It’s still not seen on DirecTV, Dish Network, or Time Warner cable.

While the University of Texas is still pocketing $20 million a year from ESPN as part of its $300 million contract with the four-letter net, everyone from Texas AD DeLoss Dodds to Longhorn football coach Mack Brown has complained about it.  (Dodds admitted last year that he still couldn’t watch it at his home and Brown said the channel gives away too much information about his team.)

The Mountain West’s network — a partnership with CBS and Comcast — was referred to as “the mtn” and it actually launched a full year prior to the Big Ten’s channel.  But don’t get too excited.  It went off the air last June.  Raise your hand if you never even knew it existed.

The Pac-12 had a nifty idea to create seven different channels.  Six regional channels would focus on two schools apiece (Arizona and Arizona State, Southern Cal and UCLA, California and Stanford, Oregon and Oregon State, Washington and Washington State, Colorado and Utah).  The other channel would cover all 12 league schools and would serve as the national channel for the conference.

All seven networks launched last August.  The regional channels are available across the Pac-12 footprint, but the league’s national channel is still fighting to gain clearance on mega-satellite provider, DirecTV.  The Pac-12 has also had to already deal with a union strike.

Unlike the Big Ten Network and “the mtn” the Pac-12 owns its networks through and through.  That means all of the start-up and production costs are on the league and its schools.  But once the channels gain a foothold — especially if the national network gains a foothold — all profits will be kept at home.

(In case you’re wondering, BYUtv covers Brigham Young athletics, but that is only one facet of the Mormon network.  Because it’s a religious channel rather than a pure sports channel, BYUtv really doesn’t fit our discussion.)

Add it all up and any ACC schools, for the sake of example, would be choosing between a league with an already proven network and a league whose channel is still on the drawing board.  In addition, there are no other clear success stories to point to other than BTN.

As far as we know, the SEC must still decide whether it will follow the Pac-12′s plan and create and launch a 100% league-owned network or whether it will go the Longhorn Network route and simply collect a check while ESPN does all the work.  (Expect it to be the latter.)

Whatever the league chooses, administrators at other schools will have to be convinced that Slive can mimic the Big Ten’s success when no one else to date has been able to.  In a head-to-head battle with the Big Ten, Delany appears to have a decided edge on the TV money front.


Advantage Two: The Big Ten has the most distinguished academic reputation of all the major sports conferences.

By this point, most of this site’s readers have come to realize that academics do play some role in the conference expansion/realignment game.  Sports television money is first, yes, but administrators like to pull in academic grants and donations, too.  Land in a better league and a school can expect a boost in both of those areas.

Pure, old-fashioned snobbery is also at play.  The administrators making these decisions would rather keep company with other prominent institutions of higher learning than with diploma mills and commuter schools.

Trust me, academics count for something.

As an example, consider how I go car shopping.  I always create a list showing the two or three models of cars I’m considering.  Then I compare them to one another in a number of categories.  Price is big, of course.  The vehicles’ gas mileage estimates matter.  I’ll also look at the cars’ safety ratings.  I’ll see which vehicle is the most environmentally friendly.  And so on.

The odds of me finding one car that is better in every one of those categories are slim.  So I have to prioritize my categories.  Price is often #1, followed by safety ratings.  I’ve had three SUVs in a row so gas mileage and environmental friendliness aren’t at the top of my list (though they should be).

When it comes to conference selection, academics would be akin to safety ratings or gas mileage estimates in car shopping.  Money issues might rank highest, but academics factor in, too.  And the importance of academic prestige depends upon the school that’s shopping for a new conference.

By 2014, the Big Ten is scheduled to include 14 schools.  Thirteen of those schools are currently members of the Association of American Universities.  (Nebraska was a member when it joined the Big Ten, but it was booted from the big-brained club in 2011.)  The Big Ten also has its own academic consortium called the Committee on Institutional Cooperation.  The CIC includes the University of Chicago, a former founding member of what is now known as the Big Ten athletic conference.  The CIC allows Big Ten schools to share knowledge and information, to work together, and to drive up grant money.  According to the CIC’s website, the 13 current members “engage in $8.4 billion in funded research each year.”  The total expenditures of the group equal a whopping $33 billion.  For comparison, the largest athletic department budgets in the country come in around $100 million (with an M, not a B).

The CIC’s combined libraries feature more books than the schools of the Ivy League.  CIC/Big Ten schools receive 12% of the total federal research funds awarded each year.  And 12 of the current 13 member schools have endowments larger than a billion dollars.

Simply put, the schools of the Big Ten are among the biggest and best research-oriented universities on the continent.

If Slive and Delany wind up pitching the same schools in the ACC, Slive had better hope geography and travel expenses rank higher on those schools’ lists than academic clout.  While the SEC is not the joke it’s often made out to be — the league currently has four AAU schools, one more than the Big XII, just one less than the ACC — it isn’t the Big Ten.  Only four SEC schools have endowments larger than $1 billion (Florida, Missouri, Texas A&M and Vanderbilt).  The league’s own SEC Academic Consortium is growing, but it was just launched in 2005.  Big Ten schools have been working together in the CIC since 1958.

One league is climbing.  The other has already arrived.


So the Big Ten will be the winner in the expansion race?

In terms of grabbing the biggest “name” schools that might move… probably.  If asked about television networks, Slive can layout a plan.  Delany can pull out a ratings book and a stack of bank statements.

If asked about academics, Slive can point to the many ways in which the SEC has improved and is still improving.  Delany can legitimately call the Big Ten the preeminent academic conference among all the major US sports conferences.

Unless proximity, personal relationships or some other hidden factors come into play, the SEC will be fighting an uphill battle if forced to duke it out — pun intended — with the Big Ten for an ACC school or two.

Now, no one should underestimate the cool, strategic mind of the SEC’s commissioner.  Slive has been a groundbreaker for more than a decade it’s doubtful that will change.  But he’ll have to be at his poker-playing best during the next round of conference realignment because the other guy has a better hand.

Imagine if the Big Ten could expand to 18 or even 20 schools by bringing in AAU institutions with major athletic programs like Duke, Georgia Tech, Kansas, North Carolina, and/or Virginia.  Under that scenario Delany’s total roster of schools would include several major football and major basketball brands.  His league would likely include three times as many AAU institutions as any other.  And the Big Ten would also have a television presence that stretches from west of the Mississippi to New York City and down the Eastern Seaboard.

On all those fronts the Big Ten would be a major winner.

But take heart, SEC fans.  The last time I checked 100,000 people don’t show up to witness the administering of a trigonometry test.  Rarely do fans take much pleasure in shouting, “We’ve got more TV markets than you!”

Regardless of who the Big Ten adds, the Southeastern Conference will still be located smack dab in the middle of the most fertile recruiting zone in America.  Every NFL draft proves that the best athletes are in the Southeast and there are more are moving to the Sun Belt region from the cold Midwest every day.  In terms of winning football games, that recruiting advantage is the ultimate trump card.

The Big Ten has the odds in its favor regarding expansion.  But the SEC will be very hard to displace from the top of the college football world.  Anyone with a Big Ten degree surely knows not to argue that point.

So as we said, if you want figure out who’ll win the realignment war it all comes down to how you define “winner.”  If you’re worried about TV money and academic prestige, the winner will probably be the Big Ten.  If you’re concerned about winning football games and chanting your league’s name after many a national championship game to come, the winner will likely remain the SEC.

Seeing as you are reading and not, I’ve got a pretty good idea what your definition of winner is.



This article is good and 100% on the mark. A couple years ago from my absolute total football athletic approach. I thought the SEC would be a dream come true for any academic institution with a football program.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

I have been on many boards from these possible expansion schools since then and I hear just what is in this article thrown at me. Especially concerning the academics. These Virginians and North Carolinians are very heavily into this AAU and CIC scholastic stuff. They are into it to the extent of preferring the B1G over the SEC by a large majority. They will proudly declare that their love for sports goes far beyond just football and that football is not the only priority for them. They further state that all the SEC is known for is football.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

I know better than that. I think of Virginia and North Carolina people as Blue Noses who resent the SEC more than they want it.  I hope the SEC comes to it's senses and takes FSU and Clemson. Mentality does make a difference! The SEC needs schools and fans who have a southern football mentality! Not a bunch of transplanted Blue Nosed Yankee jerks who will always be looking North.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           




Kinda interesting....  Nobody is talking Wake Forest?  Is there something wrong with that University, or are others just more attractive right now?


John, I've suggested for a while that the B1G should look to regional Fox networks to play the role that the regional Pac-12 Nets are playing.  My thinking is that is would be something like the SEC's intent to get ESPN to nationally televise it's games so much that a conference network would be unnecessary.  Maybe there would be a similar approach with the SEC and regional nets in the south, but they wouldn't be owned by the same entity. Basically, it creates something of a Tier 4 or Tier 3b TV package. 




It has been an interesting 2 and half years since Delany announced expansion. It has been at times, more interesting than football itself.

With yourself, Frank the Tank, and TexasBucknut, you all have had GREAT insite.

Being in BIG Country as I'm sure it is in the SEC, it is in a way sad to see the regional cultures and traditions being trampled upon.

But, we know money talks.

To me it has been a Delany-Slive partnership for the future. Carving up the East, ACC, and B12. These men know what they're doing.

More importantly, they know when to do it. Along with the Pac12, They will control they're own futures. TV, Money, and rules. Say Goodbye to the NCAA.

Keep up the good wrk MR. SEC.



The SEC could have the upperhand if they act first. Duke and UNC offer things the SEC needs like a stronger academic reputation and two excellent basketball programs. I know they value other male sports not offered in the south like lacrosse and soccer, but the SEC can add men's soccer or they can play soccer and lacrosse out of conference like Kentucky and South Carolina play soccer out of conference. The SEC should go after what it doesn't already have and that is a strong basketball conference; with the addition of UNC and Duke the SEC would easy be the best overall sports conference and a very strong academic confference as well. VT and NCST are not on par with UNC and Duke. If the SEC waits and is left with VT and NCST the SEC will not add anything it doesn't already have.  



If the Big Ten is adding AAU schools in the south do you think they'd have interest in Florida and would Florida be interested in the Big Ten?


It seems like the Big Ten would like to add a big population state like Florida with a lot of cable subscribers and football recruits. I'd think UF's administration would at least consider interest from the Big Ten. They might want to associate with the big brain club.


Florida might be a cultural fit. You don't hear many southern accents outside of the panhandle and a few other rural areas. Most people have moved here from northern states. A game with Ohio State might interest more people than Tennessee or Georgia.


Florida is in a division with Missouri and Kentucky in the SEC so the Big Ten wouldn't add much more travel. If the Big Ten adds schools from Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia there would be nearby schools.


Florida would lose some tradition but nobody seemed to notice when UF lost its longest standing rivalry with Auburn a few years ago. Georgia was Florida's once biggest rival but my kids who attend or graduated from UF barely care about Georgia because they never play on campus. Tennessee became a rival in the 1990s when Florida and Tennessee were both good but now that Tennessee has been down it's not a big game. Just as Texas A&M and Missouri are building new traditions in the SEC, Florida could build new traditions in the Big Ten.


Perhaps the Big Ten might take Florida and FSU as a package deal and then Florida would be in a conference with the only school it really needs to play every year. FSU is growing and some day may be an AAU school. It's going to become more difficult to schedule out of conference rivals with an expanded in-conference schedule.


Leagues appear to be adding more in-conference games. That means there will be fewer games against other conferences. The SEC won't be able to show its football superiority against other conferences before playoff and bowl teams are selected. I think the system will evolve into the champions of four conference being in the playoffs. It would probably be easier for UF to get into the playoffs by being in the Big Ten than the SEC.


If the Big Ten ever showed interest in Florida I think it would at least be worth considering.



This is really an interesting article.


Would the following ACC/Big XII play-off deal save the two leagues from further poaching?


A six year deal for football only with the option to continue.


Division A: Miami, FSU, GT, CU, NCST, Wake

Division B: TX, TX Tech, Baylor, TCU, Oklahoma, OK State

Division C: UVA, VT, WVU, Pitt, BC, Syracuse

Division D: UNC, Duke, L-Ville, Iowa St, Kansas, K-State


7 Conference Games plus 1 “flex game”.   The “flex game” is played 2 Saturdays after Thanksgiving. The host divisions for the “flex games” are predetermined on a rotating basis.


In the “flex game” the first place team in Division A plays the first place team in Division B. Second vs. Second, so on and so forth. Last vs Last. The same set-up will be used in the other 2 divisions.


The winners of the two “first place flex games” will meet the following week in the Championship Game.


All TV money generated from games played in ACC stadiums will go to the ACC.   All TV money generated from games played in Big 12 stadiums will go to the Big 12.


Permanent Rivals (set-up to maximize TV money and in some cases regional rivalries):

FSU - Texas

Miami - Oklahoma

Clemson – VA Tech


Wake – Duke

K-State - OK State

Pitt – L-Ville


Iowa St - TCU

BC - Baylor

WVU - TX Tech

Kansas - Syracuse


 @WarHog38 Or VTech and Clemson, if Florida, UT, and Georgia are leery of adding FSU.


 @ezgame Private school, NOT a national brand, not a traditional football contender (never mind "King"), not a research university and graduate school academic powerhouse, doesn't guarantee cable carriage across most or all of its state ... Wake Forest is hoping that the ACC hangs together and remains a Major conference, because its not getting an invite from any other Major conference. Its got great undergraduate academics, but that is not a major criteria for anybody.



ESPN doesn't quite have the regional network thing going for them right now in the way FOX does.  It might be a long time before they do at that.  The benefit to the regional network model is that it allows you to cater to your audiences nationwide using the same platforms.  Nationally televised SEC games are great for the South and fans in other places looking for good football, but if the same time slots are used for other content in other markets then the TV network maximizes its profits.  They can also do a better job of targeting their varying audiences with ads. 


I think one of the reasons FOX is outbidding ESPN for content these days is that they simply have more money to spend.  Their regional network model gives them more opportunities to show content.  At the end of the day, sports that wouldn't make the 1st Tier of broadcasting are more efficiently utilized.  That means more bang for the buck.


That sort of model has been mastered by FOX, but ESPN really hasn't delved into it at all.  Every channel ESPN launches has the goal of reaching as broad an audience as possible nationally while also using a niche product.  It's a bad strategy.  ESPN has the added disadvantage of picking the wrong types of niches to broadcast.  The LHN anyone?  That network is far too narrowly defined to even be of interest to most people in its region. 


 @farmerl21 Teams that park certain programs in other conferences -- Kentucky and South Carolina in C-USA for men's soccer, West Virginia in the MAC for men's soccer, Missouri in the MAC for wrestling -- are rarely national title contenders in said sports. Putting a team in a different, lower-level conference conveys lower status to potential recruits. North Carolina, Virginia and Duke are more often than not ranked in men's soccer and men's lacrosse, among other sports, and parking it away from its principal conference would probably weaken their programs. (Neither Virginia Tech nor N.C. State field men's lacrosse teams, and neither are ACC men's soccer powers. Put them in the SEC, and VT and NCSU would likely move men's soccer and wrestling to the MAC or C-USA with minimal harm.)


 @AGator I think for the academic people in UF, a Big Ten invite is tempting.  I would rather collaborate with scholars from U of Chicago, Michigan, Northwestern, Wisconsin (and possibly Duke and Johns Hopkins in the future).  As a pure sports fan, I would rather stay in SEC - who cares about brainy stuff when I can enjoy excitement from sports?  Fans would revolt if the academic administrators decide to move to Big Ten.  UF's brand is really in football, that's what UF is known for.


 @AGator Would the Big Ten be interested in Florida. Yes, obviously: they have the advantages of FSU, and as the premier public research university in the state of Florida,  they do not have the downside of being an academic "fixer-upper". Compared to UVA / UNC / GTech / Duke or UVA / UNC / GTech / FSU, UVA / UNC / GTech / Florida makes the best of both worlds.


As far as the chances of Florida leaving the SEC, serious people could differ in that assessment. Some would say the likelihood is nil, others that the likelihood is negligible. I tend toward the "nil" side. Or to paraphrase Dumb and Dumber, "The odds are less than one in a thousand", "so you are saying there IS a chance!"



 @AGator As a Big Ten fan, I think the conference would take Florida in about two seconds.  But I seriously doubt that the interest would be reciprocated.  Florida seems to be doing just fine without the Big Ten.


SEC Play-Off:


Division E1:  UGA, USC, Vandy

Division E2:  FLA, Tenn, Missouri, KY

Division W1:  Bama, Auburn, Arkansas

Division W2:  LSU, Ole Miss, Miss St, TX A&M


The teams in Divisions E1 and E2 play 6 games vs each other every year.  They play a 7th game vs their permanent rival.  The same set-up is used in Divisions W1 and W2.


The 8th conference game is a “flex game”.  The “flex game” is played 2 Saturdays after Thanksgiving.  


In the “flex game” the first place team in Division E1 plays the first place team in Division W1. Second vs. Second. Third vs. Third.  The same set-up will be used in the other 2 divisions.  The host divisions for the “flex games” are predetermined on a rotating basis.


Regardless of rotation, the last place team of Division E2 will always play the last place team of Division W2 due to uneven numbers of teams.


The winners of the two “first place flex games” will meet the following week in the Championship Game.


Permanent Rivals:  Same as current SEC match-ups (i.e. UGA and Auburn, Bama and Tennessee, etc.)


If the ACC/Big XII made an alliance as indicated below, this would pave the way for a true 16 team play-off.  (Assume Pac 12 and B1G also divide into 4 divisions similar to example above for SEC)


Example of 16 team play-off from 2012:

UGA, FLA, Bama, and LSU from the SEC.

FSU, K-state, Oklahoma, Pitt from the ACC/Big XII

Michigan, Nebraska, Ohio St., Penn St from the B1G

Stanford, Oregon, UCLA, So Cal from the Pac 12

(Teams unfortunately left out for not winning a division: Notre Dame, TX A&M, S. Carolina, Clemson, L-ville)

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator



Just my opinion here, but I would be surprised if the Big XII or SEC or anyone else actually cut a deal with the ACC.  If they wanted to save that league and slow expansion they could, but no one I've spoken to believes that's actually their desire now that the Big Ten is back on the warpath.


John Swofford reached out to the Big XII, to my understanding.  Not the other way around.


Thanks for reading the site,



 @BruceMcF I think Clemson and FSU are virtually the only matches for the SEC  from the ACC. Those Virginia and North Carolina fans do not like the SEC now. How are they going to be when the SEC takes part in breaking up their hallowed ACC? Plus being passed on by the B1G.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

When I write Virginia and North Carolina, I am referring to VT, UVA, UNC, UNST and Duke. They all have ACC loving fans who favor the B1G over the SEC by a huge margin. I do not want a bunch of pissed off people in the SEC! Maybe Slive does? I hope not!


 @adarpy  @AGator For the academic politicians that run the University of Florida, the revolt of t-shirt fans may or may not be such a big deal. However, for the long time members of the SEC, the revolt would extend to academic donors and to political supporters in state legislatures, and that part of the revolt threatens to have a much deeper bite.


A President of Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Ole Miss, Bama, etc. ... just is not going to flirt with that idea. They are going to let those sleeping dogs lie.


So while the answer to the hypothetical question, "if Florida was thinking about moving interested, would the Big Ten be interested" is a resounding "yes", under anything like current conditions it aint gonna happen, and doesn't need to be considered as a possible move.



 @BruceMcF  @AGator This thought has crossed my mind to.  Although I still think UF wouldn't go anywhere without UGA.



I don't follow your logic.  Each group (East & West) has 7 teams.  You're saying they play 6 against those in their group + 1 against a rival in the other group. We're now @ 7 games.  Your 8th game is a playoff type deal mid-December.  WHO is still playing @ that time?  Most people are (if not already have) playing their conf. championship game.  So, does this mean there is a 7 or 8 game conf. schedule?  Also, what happens if you & your rival in the other group finish in the same rank - do BOTH games count?  &, with the last game as an unknown until basically the end of the season, people traveling will have to come up with plans @ the last minute to see what state they're going to & if it's driveable or requires a plane.


In order to minimize teams being left out, the official 4 team NCAA play-off would only guarantee a spot to these 4 conference champions if the champion had 1 or less losses.  So, for example, if a conference champion had 2 or more losses, then, and only then, would the selection committee come into play to either pass that champion into the final 4 or take a wild card team instead.


 @John at MrSEC  @BenGies Your comment implies that a conference would not want to make a scheduling agreement with the ACC in an effort to get better non-conf games on one side while still courting a current ACC member on the other.  I'm not sure that's a non-starter. 


On the other hand, I'd say that everyone should be hesitant to schedule something big with the ACC considering their uncertain future.  Exit clauses could let the stable league out of the agreement, but they'd still have to manage around the scheduling arrangements. 


 @Roggespierre  @BruceMcF The SEC is almost completely made up of large Land Grant universities, as is the B1G. There is no bad choice for higher education from their ranks.


 @WarHog38  @BruceMcF That stuff isn't worth your time or mine.  In my view, there is nothing better than finding a great message board that serves thoughtful adults whose interests are similar to mine.  So much of the stuff out there is of what I like to call the neener-neener variety.


Every university has its strengths.  Take, for example, Oklahoma State.  It gets beaten up pretty badly by the academic snobs in other conferences.  Still, when I began the MBA program at Georgetown - a school that has no shortage of snobs - my financial accounting professor elected to use a text book and online program that had been developed by two accounting profs at Oklahoma State.  "It's the best I've found," he would say when asked.  For good measure, one of the best marketing students in my Georgetown class earned his undergraduate degree at the University of Arkansas.


 @WarHog38 Florida [hits palm on forehead], how could I forget Florida? Just because they play competitive football doesn't mean they AREN'T an elite research university. After Maryland leaves, it will be 5 AAU schools in the ACC, four in the SEC. If UNC switched to the SEC, the SEC would have *more* AAU schools than the ACC. If after the ACC being destabilized UVA and/or GTech moved to the Big Ten, the ACC would have no more, and possibly fewer, AAU schools than the SEC.


That could well be the "Toto, I don't think we are in Kansas anymore" moment for UNC. But, paradoxically, if both the Big Ten and the SEC are waiting for that to happen, it might never happen, because it seems unlikely that the ACC schools that the Big12 want agree to go to the Big12 unless the ACC is already destabilized, which means its either the SEC or Big Ten who have to move first.


Anyway, people who have oversimplified views of the world have an unfortunate advantage in web forums, because they can come up with an immediate response without any additional thought, while people who have more awareness of how complex, and sometimes contradictory, the real world is are still thinking things through.


 @Roggespierre I take the US News and World Report grad school rankings with a grain of salt, but if trying to get an overall view of a school's overall academic status, and not putting too much weight on any individual position, they are still workable. But not only do a lot of schools game the system for their undergraduate rankings, but even more, academic status is not ABOUT undergraduate education, so even if it were 100% accurate, it still would be beside the point.


 @BruceMcF  @WarHog38 You make two very good points here.  I can't disagree with either.  Notre Dame is the perfect example of academic snobbery at work.


And thanks for mentioning the U.S. News rankings problem.  In my experience, academicians think they're a joke.  Administrators don't for exactly the reason you cite - HS seniors care about them, so administrators are forced to care about them, too.


 @BruceMcF It is snobbery to a large degree. I had those posters on those ACC boards tell me that Missouri, Vandy, Florida and Texas A&M were all gone to the B1G for the asking. I never responded to such. Too busy countering the other junk they posted. However I thought those particular comments by them were absurd.                                                                                                                                

I know I just had a tiny fraction of a school's fan base on those boards. I feel sometimes those types can bully others who feel differently off a board. It worked with me, I do not punch their boards up anymore.  I agree that the size of research grants should not be the final deciding factor in the average person's choice of a college.


 @WarHog38  @Roggespierre Bear down on every advantage ~ Duke football may be lackluster, but its a top-10 national research university with millions of research grants and lots of top-25 grad school programs. Many people talking about academic status on conference discussion boards go to the US News and World Report site and quote the headline ranking ~ but that is the undergraduate ranking, because of the $$$ that USNWR makes every year selling those profiles to HS seniors. The real story in terms of academic status comes when you click through to the ranking of the grad school programs.


Its not JUST about money ~ its partly about academic snobbery. Notre Dame is not a big money research university, but it has top-25 law and business schools, so while academics in a top flight research university would not be popping the corks to get Notre Dame in a conference, they wouldn't look down their nose on Notre Dame either.




 @Roggespierre I was always aware that every university has a research department. However I was not aware of the deficiencies of most all the SEC schools with regards to research until I spent several months on those ACC sports boards. There I had the 100's of millions of dollars in deficiencies quoted to me repeatedly.                                                         

I read in this article that the SEC is getting their own version of a CIC going. I guess it is none too soon in the new world of today!


 @AllTideUp  @WarHog38  @BruceMcF I'm all for taking advantage of inherent strengths.  The SEC enjoys a significant competitive advantage with regards to football, namely that a disproportionately high percentage of the nation's best players are developed in its back yard.  There should be no shame in leveraging that advantage for the benefit of the the universities at large.


Two fantastic AAU schools just joined the SEC due to the opportunity and stability that are afforded by football.  How great is that?


 @WarHog38 It's more about money than education.  The southern schools do a fine job of educating their undergraduate and graduate students.  The CIC was about getting money from federal agencies, the National Science Foundation in particular.  That agency exists for one reason - to hand out money for scientific research.  It has no other purpose.


 @AllTideUp  @WarHog38  @BruceMcF All of this is definitely true.  I have tremendous respect for the SEC institutions.  For a variety of reasons- some self-inflicted and others not - they had a late start in the research game.  And, when it comes to research, it's very important to take state politics into account.


Being a native Hoosier, I can tell you that the state is very proud to have two public AAU universities.  It took a lot of commitment at the state level.  Indiana has never been able to match the human, financial, and political resources of states like Ohio, Michigan and Illinois.  Add in Notre Dame, which is still located in Indiana despite its continuous efforts to act as if it's on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, and we're doing pretty well for a state of 3 million people.


The point is that I can relate to the South in some ways.  The sense of community that y'all enjoy every Saturday afternoon is a thing of beauty that is unique in the world of sports.


 @WarHog38  @AllTideUp  The SEC may be full of fine educational institutions, but not with elite research universities that "rank with any conference".


But the SEC and ACC are not as different on that front as a lot of people remember. When I was living in Knoxville, there was only one AAU school in the SEC, but the last two adds have been AAU schools. With Maryland leaving, there's only going to be ffive AAU schools in the ACC. So if UNC moved to the SEC, the two conferences would have an equal number of AAU schools.


As a side note, I'd disagree with those who figure that the AAU status is WHY the SEC invited Texas A&M and Mizzou. Both add bigger "home" TV markets than the middle SEC schools. East Texas is the most "southern" part of Texas. And while the majority of Missouri is midwestern, there is a distinctly "southern" section in the southeast corner of the state that makes up about a quarter to a third of the state population.


 @AllTideUp   I agree with you that the SEC is full of fine educational institutions that rank with any conference.  However the B1G has it's own ways of self evaluation as the AAU and CIC. As this article states, the SEC must do the same and is presently doing so. I know the SEC will get there in the decades ahead. 


  @BruceMcF Of course I hope you are the one that is right if the SEC should take VT. I just feel the SEC does not have very many good choices left with expansion.                                                                                                                                      

Texas never wanted in the SEC and neither does Oklahoma without OSU. The Kansas schools would be a huge mistake culturally. The SEC does not want SMU,  Baylor, TCU or TT. Pitt does not fit. The SEC has done rejected UWV.  You add in a bunch of bad attitude Virginia and North Carolina ACC fans with a B1G slant.                                                                             


That is why I said FSU and Clemson. Good southern schools who really want the SEC. There are not many left!


 @Roggespierre  Your  sentiment is exactly what I experienced from posters on those Virginia boards. Most were not as gracious as you in expressing it though. It is a cultural difference, especially for someone of my age. Twenty years ago you never heard this scholastic stuff mentioned in the same sentence with football in the South. The B1G has been working diligently on that CIC since 1958. The SEC has a lot of catching up to do since that has apparently now been made important. 


 @BruceMcF  @WarHog38 

I agree that Virginia Tech would be a great addition and fit into the SEC very well.  Florida State and VT might make the best 2 additions actually.


 @Roggespierre  @WarHog38  @BruceMcF 

I care about more than football as well.  Sports exist for the schools rather than the other way around.  That doesn't mean sports can't be a heck of a lot of fun though or be a uniting force of a community.  I think that's the big difference between the SEC and B1G.  It's the culture of the regions rather than the approach to academics. 


People think the SEC folks only care about football.  No, we just care about it more.  Every school in the SEC is a high quality institution and nationally ranked, a few are as good as any the FBS has to offer.  Just because we haven't achieved the status of the Ivy League en mass(it's not like the B1G has either) or because we aren't chocked full of AAU schools doesn't mean our academics suck as some like to put it(not accusing anyone here of doing that).


Fact is the SEC states, by and large, have always been poorer than their Midwestern counterparts.  The trends are changing somewhat economically, but it takes time for that to trickle into every aspect of society.


 @WarHog38  In the end though trash talk on an online discussion group is mostly hot air by a small number of loudmouths. I still do not think you can lump UVA and VTech in particular in the same boat. They've got different cultures. If VTech made the jump, they'd not be "anti-SEC" for twenty or thirty years. They could well turn into bigger SEC braggarts than A&M fans talking to UTX fans.


 @WarHog38  @BruceMcF No doubt, the culture is different.  I'm a B1G fan, and I care about a lot more than football.  I want academic prestige.  I want greatness in basketball - haven't had much in recent years.  That said, I like the SEC because it plays a brand of college football that is clearly superior and more fun to watch.  I don't want my conference to imitate the SEC, but I'm glad the SEC exists.


 @WarHog38  @BruceMcF I work in Northern Virginia.  It seems as if VT is more Virginia than UVA, if that makes any sense.  UVA is a state school that behaves in many ways like an elite private school.  Tech is more identifiable as a true state university. 


 @BruceMcF I wanted to think of UVA fans being more snobbish or snootier than VT fans as well. I really could tell no diference in them. They got along very well on the same boards. I thought of the big fights between Hog and Red Wolf fans at any opportunity on such a board. Did not see it with them, they get along well.                                                                              

Slews of posters on those boards will proudly tell you football is not their big thing. It is not the ultimate purpose of a learning institution or their only concern in sports. I heard these type comments repeatedly and if I countered. I was the one chided by those that followed.                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

I know I was the outsider on those boards and that in it's own gets you some mistreatment. However time after time and over and over repeating. I mean a true anti-SEC attitude is bore out. The SEC does not need that for 20 or 30 years coming out of those two states!


 @WarHog38 If an fan of an SEC school goes onto boards of any other conference school, they are going to attract SEC bashing. Haters gonna hate, after all, that's just the way internet forums work, and as the top football conference, SEC backers are going to attract more than their fair share.


But its UVA that attracts more of the academic snootiness, and my impression about VTech fans is they are more football first. Northern VA may be the southern end of the Northeast Corridor, but that's still a big part of why many of them are VTech fans instead of Cavalier fans.


The main worry about NC State would be how much of a step up in class it would be ~ at least in Fall ~ for a program that only spends about $12m on football.


 @BruceMcF I have relatives who have lived in Northern Virginia for years. They tell me the Northern 1/2 of Virginia is literally just like living in the North. The Southern 1/2 is more southern to some extent.  As far as VT, it has a huge part of the enrollment coming from the NE and B1G regions. I have only been on boards but I can attest to the SEC being heavily bashed there. I can not see a pro SEC majority coming from anywhere. Maybe from the young T-Shirt crowd as you suggest?                                                                                                                                                                                                          


However I have always come from this school of thought. They do not want me, I do not want them!


 @WarHog38 My impression was that if you did a survey of t-shirt fans of VTech between the SEC and the Big Ten, the SEC would win by a fair margin, but unlike East Tennessee, I've never lived any substantial length of time in either Virginia or North Carolina, so that's just an outside impression.


 @GatorBuc2  @AGator If you start from Florida and list "wouldn't go anywhere without, in the end you'll be describing the core of the SEC. Its simpler to boil it down to a simple rule: schools don't leave the SEC, Big Ten or Pac-12. Don't waste any time on scenarios that assue that they do, since the conference commissioners certainly aren't investing a lot of time in any of those scenarios.


Or, as Frank the Tank might say, in conference realignment, sh!t always rolls downhill.


In the end, since multiple AAA minor leagues for football IS a sustainable outcome, the odds are that the SEC and Big Ten both win. The Pac-12 is hemmed in by the Rockies and the paucity of population in the Mountain time zone, otherwise they'd be better positioned to also win from conference realignment, as opposed to just treading water.


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