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.