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SEC Denies Sending Missouri An Invitation

While every other conference in the country can steal, swipe and abscond with schools from other leagues, the SEC continues to live in fear of Baylor president Kenneth Starr.

Word leaked out today — via a booster who talked to an MU official and then talked to The Kansas City Star — that the SEC had extended an invitation to Missouri.

We believe that makes sense for the following reasons:

1.  The SEC reportedly ix-nayed WVU’s application and it wouldn’t have done so if it didn’t have other, firm options on the table.

2.  Missouri is a good business fit with the SEC as we have attempted to explain for the past 16 months.

But now the SEC is denying that an invitation was ever sent.  Associate commissioner Charles Bloom has now stated that “The SEC has not extended an invitation to any school beyond Texas A&M since it extended invitations to Arkansas and South Carolina.”

As was the case with Texas A&M, the SEC does not want to appear to be breaking up other conferences (nevermind that the ACC, the Big Ten and the Pac-12 have all raided rival leagues in the past 14 months).  The folks in the SEC aren’t happy that this story got out as it did.

That does not, however, threaten the deal.  Mike Slive knows that leaks happen (they just never happen from inside the SEC).

One other note on all of this, the initial story came courtesy of a Missouri booster.  It should surprise no one that it’s spun in a pro-Missouri way.

Paraphrase: “The SEC has invited us and they’ll wait for our Big 12 decision.”

Paraphrase: “The SEC wanted us last year but we weren’t interested.”

Etc, etc, etc.

Our take?  The SEC has an under the table agreement with MU officials that if the Big 12 implodes, explodes or any other kind of plodes, the Tigers will join Slive’s band of 14.

But it’s highly doubtful that the SEC has extended an “official” invitation to Missouri or anyone else.  That’s not done until the process is complete so both parties can save face should something go wrong.

Here’s one last concern on all of this, though.  The SEC is darn good at closing ranks and keeping quiet.  Georgia AD Greg McGarity said yesterday that Slive met with the leagues ADs in a regularly scheduled get-together a few weeks ago and he would not talk expansion with them.  He told them to trust him and trust their presidents.  That’s how you control leaks.

Well Missouri has already sprung a leak in its dealings with the SEC.  More worrisome — Mizzou totally misplayed things last year with regards to the Big Ten.  Tiger brass made no bones about the fact that they wanted out of the Big 12 and into the Big Ten.  When the invite didn’t come, they were left with a full omelette on their face.

This isn’t a dealbreaker by any means, but one has to wonder if Missouri is capable of playing high-stakes poker alongside its potential new leaguemates.

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CBS’ McMurphy: “WVU Rejected By ACC & SEC”

Late this morning, CBSSports.com’s Brett McMurphy tweeted the following:


“Multiple Big East sources said they have been told by WVU officials that WVU rejected by ACC & SEC”


Now, we stated just an hour ago that we would be surprised if the SEC handed out a sure-fire yes or no with any haste.  Why limit one’s options.

But if this report is true, it suggests the SEC has already decided upon a 14th school.  Stay tuned.

(And if you’re an irate WVU fan right now, go back and read our posts regarding WVU’s business-related shortcomings and you’ll understand why — if this report is true — the Mountaineers were passed over.  We tried to tell you.)

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WV Writer Says The SEC Hasn’t Turned Down WVU’s Bid For Acceptance

On Sunday, a Twitter report claimed that West Virginia had turned in paperwork to the SEC asking for admission into the league.  Late yesterday, Mitch Vingle of The Charleston Gazette confirmed that report… and added more:


“After hours of conversations, texts, etc., with those in the know, it’s clear the Mountaineer athletic department is staring at two scenarios.

It has indeed turned to the Southeastern Conference.  It’s up to the SEC to welcome West Virginia — or turn its back.  As of Monday evening, the conference had not said no to the school.”


It’s unlikely that Mike Slive and his league would turn down WVU with such haste.  Why nix any options before it’s absolutely necessary?

We still believe that West Virginia is a perfect fit with the league when it comes to athletics, fan support and culture.  But it’s a poor fit when looking at the business of expansion due to its population-base, television markets and academic reputation.

If the SEC can find a more perfect match, then WVU will get a turn-down.  If it can’t, then WVU will be welcomed in with open arms and Slive will claim that the Mountaineers were the SEC’s top choice all along.

But we would be very surprised if the school got a quick yea or nay from the SEC either way.  The music is still playing and there are still a lot of seats to choose from.

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25 Answers And Rants On SEC Expansion

So many issues.  So many schools.  So many moving parts.

It’s nearly impossible to keep track minute by minute of what’s developing on the conference expansion/realignment front.  What happens in one part of the country can start a string of toppling dominoes from the Pacific to the Atlantic.

With so many issues yet to be resolved, we thought we’d dive in with a stream of consciousness ramble covering nearly every angle of SEC expansion.  Consider it a thesis-less tour through the miscellaneous.

Enjoy…

 

1.  This is not about now.

Please, stop sending emails saying that the SEC is super-duper strong and that the league got great TV ratings last year.  We’re aware of that.  But expansion/realignment is not about now.  It’s about 15 to 25 to 50 years down the road.  Texas A&M president R. Bowen Loftin said his school was making a 100-year decision in moving to the SEC.  He’s right.

We have been careening toward this moment since the Supreme Court gave conferences and schools the right to cut their own television deals back in 1984.  Now it appears we’re finally at the point of climax.  What bonds are formed in the next few months will be expected to last for years.  For there are no 32-team mega-conferences on the horizon.  At least not yet.

With all this being about the future, we need to think like business executives.  And that means considering worst-case scenarios.  The SEC may be playing great football now, but was anyone curtseying to the SEC a decade ago?  Not really.  So why will they be bowing a decade from now?  If the ACC sews up every major market on the East Coast and the Big Ten grabs every major market in the North and the Pac-Whatever claims every major market west of the Mississippi… there aren’t a whole lot of big Southern markets for the SEC to lasso.  That’s not good considering this entire process is being driven by television money.  Schools facing financial hardships — and they all are, thanks to our economy — want to lock-in major revenue streams for the future.  The more eyeballs a league can deliver to a network, the more money it will make.  The SEC is making money now because it’s got the best football going.  But if other leagues pass the SEC in terms of size and reach, eventually the networks will give those leagues more money.  (Heck, the Pac-12 makes more in network Tier I money now.)  Once other leagues start making more money and building better facilities, how long before the SEC takes a slight hit in recruiting?  Followed then by a hit in on-field performance?

Expansion/realignment has little to do with now and lots to do with tomorrow and the next day and the next day.  Don’t think like a fan.  Think like a CEO who’s trying to eyeball his competition and make sure he’s pushing the right buttons to insure long-range financial success.  That’s what Mike Slive and Larry Scott and Jim Delany and John Swofford are doing.

 

2.  This thing could drag on for weeks.

Monday — like so many days before it — was supposed to be D-Day on the expansion front.  The boards of both Texas and Oklahoma did meet and they gave their presidents the right to make new conference deals, if they so desire.  But that means little.  UT and OU still appear to be heading out of the Big 12, but they also still appear to be engaged in a high-stakes staring contest with Texas A&M.  ”First one to blink gets a lawsuit from Baylor!”

As long as the Pac-12, Texas, Oklahoma and the rest (from now on Texas Tech and Oklahoma State will get the Professor and Mary Ann treatment) are waiting for the SEC and A&M to make a move — and vice versa — we could all be waiting for a few more weeks.  It’s even possible that everyone will wait to see if the ACC brings in UConn and Rutgers next.  Once the ACC completes its work, then everyone else might begin theirs.

Or it could all come to a head by tomorrow.

Point is — No one knows when this all will end.  We at MrSEC.com would bet later rather than sooner.

 

3.  Stop ripping schools’ boards of trustees and regents.

Orangebloods.com — the Rivals site that covers Texas — acted as a PR arm for the Longhorns a few weeks back and posted a column suggesting that the trustees and regents at some schools (Texas A&M) were driving the college sports machine smack into the jaws of Hell.  The site pointed out that some of those trustees and regents were plain ol’ optometrists and dentists.  Not football men, by God.  And not academics, either.  Dentists!

Dennis Dodd of CBSSports.com surprisingly beat the same ridiculous drum last week.

But there are a couple of problems with this “don’t let the dentists make the decisions” argument.  (And we’re not even talking about the fact that Dodd is a rabid anti-dentite.)  First, does anyone recall Big 12 trustees and regents getting blasted last year when they held their conference together?  Didn’t think so.  What about when Penn State joined the Big Ten?  Or when Arkansas and South Carolina joined the SEC?

Clearly, Orangebloods and Dodd don’t have a problem with the people making the decisions… unless they disagree with their decisions.  Which means the “dentist” argument is a false one to begin with.  If these same infidels were voting to protect the status quo, they’d be hailed as wise men.  So how’s ’bout those folks who don’t like change just say they don’t like change?  Rather than attacking the qualifications of the people pushing for change.

The more obvious second problem is this — These same dentists and optometrists also have a hand in electing our nation’s president.  If these optometrists and dentists are qualified to help choose who runs our country, well, they’re probably qualified enough to decide whether or not Texas A&M belongs in the Big 12.

 

4.  Speaking of politicians…

Did you see where Baylor president Kenneth Starr traveled to last week?  He was on Capitol Hill lobbying politicians to help hold the Big 12 together.  According to Politico.com he met personally with Representatives Virginia Foxx (R-NC), Jack Kingston (R-GA), and Kevin Yoder (R-KS).  Sure.  Makes sense.  Because Republicans have always been for free enterprise.  If the market dictates something, so be it.  And that’s exactly why the government should refuse to interfere with a school’s right to realign… no, wait, what?  Starr was asking his Republican pals to get involved?  He wants the government to interfere in the marketplace?

Why that’s as low as a school leaving four partner institutions for dead and then threatening a lawsuit when that very same shoe is brought back and placed upon its own foot.  Oh, yeah.  Baylor and Starr did that, too, didn’t they?

Wow, this guy really is a piece of… work.

Amazingly, one lobbyist familiar with Starr’s pitch said that he was “really trying to convey that you have to have the student athletes’ interests at heart first before chasing after the biggest contractual agreements” with television networks.  Oh.  Lookin’ out for the athletes.  That’s big at BU.  Take for instance when they pulled out of an all-Texas league and bellied up to the old Big 8, choosing to make their athletes travel to Boulder, Colorado and Ames, Iowa… all for television network contracts.

BU?  More like BS.

 

5.  Expansion will make the SEC more money.

Forget what you’ve heard from a few network and ex-network executives.  Slive and company aren’t running a charity.  They’re not going to take in Texas A&M or any other school if there’s not something in it for them.  That something could include increased exposure, new recruiting ground and/or a boost to the league’s academic reputation.  But it most definitely would include more money.

We recently spoke to a VP at one of the nation’s largest media rights companies and his point blank take was: “The SEC isn’t going to make a move that will cost itself money.”  Keep that in mind when you’re thinking about who the SEC might add to its roster.  Texas A&M, Florida State, North Carolina?  Or West Virginia, TCU or East Carolina?  Bigger names, bigger populations, bigger alumni chapters and bigger TV markets equal bigger dollars.  Fans of smaller name, smaller market schools might not like that fact, but it is a fact.

 

6.  Duh.  That money will come from increased television revenue.

SEC presidents know exactly what dollar mark they need to hit to cover the cost of a new school being added to their league.  They also know that if massive realignment comes all at once, everyone will be renegotiating their current deals all at once, too.  That should bode well for the SEC because right now — and here we can talk about the now — the league is stronger than any other.  As long as the SEC brings in two or more name brands with big TV pull, the SEC should make more cash.  (They’ve already landed one such school in Texas A&M.)

And don’t forget, NBC is now looking to become a bigger player in the college sports scene, just as Fox has done.  Fox has its own network of regional channels.  NBC has the same through it’s merger with Comcast which was approved earlier this year.  If current SEC partner ESPN balks at forking over more dough to the SEC and fails to make a good-faith offer, Slive could conceivably — depending on his contract with CBS — take the SEC’s inventory to NBC to see what that network might offer for it.

One way or another, the SEC is likely to find more money from the networks as long as it picks the right schools to marry.

 

7.  What about an SEC Network?

When Slive signed the SEC’s deal with ESPN in 2008, the view was that ESPN would be the SEC’s network.  And it’s worked beautifully so far.  But ESPN continues to pay out big money for the rights to carry rival league’s games, as well.  The more Pac-12, Big Ten and ACC games appear on ESPN, the less that net looks like the SEC’s network.

It’s believed that at the time, the SEC agreed not to start its own channel.  But what if the makeup of the league changes.  If the SEC adds two schools, goes to 14 and stops there, it would have between 14 and 28 new football games worth of football inventory per year (the two new schools would keep one pay-per-view game per year like all the other league teams).  During basketball season, that’s dozens more games of live inventory.  ESPN and CBS could keep their current deals in place with the league, and the SEC could still pull an additional two games per week during football season to show on its own channel.

The revenue from such a channel would have to be larger than the Tier 3 money SEC schools make now by cutting their own media rights deals, but the sky now appears to be the limit when it comes to these league-owned networks.  The Big Ten is now a major money-maker.  The Pac-12 plans to launch six different regional networks all focusing on the two Pac-12 schools in each particular region (Oregon, Washington, Northern California, etc).

Just to reiterate, we haven’t seen the SEC’s contracts with ESPN or CBS.  So we’re talking about hypotheticals here.  But the SEC wouldn’t be acting if it didn’t think it could make more money.  The launch of an SEC Network could possibly be one way of making that added cash.

 

8.  Cable distribution is a very steady revenue stream.

If the SEC did launch a network, it would find that cable distribution revenue is much more stable than ad-sales-based revenue via the networks.  The more households the SEC could reach, the more money it would make.  To heck with on-field performance or game-by-game ratings.  Subscribers would pay a monthly fee to their cable operators — again, think of a potential partnership with NBC/Comcast — and a piece of that would go straight into the SEC’s coffers.

We’re talking about ifs here, but if the SEC has a mind to join other leagues in the conference-owned channel game, the more eyeballs the better.  That’s why Texas A&M is so valuable.  There are approximately eight million cable households in the Lone Star State.  Awesome.  Unfortunately, that’s why a school like West Virginia — located in a state with a total population of less than two million people — probably wouldn’t be as attractive to the SEC.  About 90% of the people in West Virginia are cable-ready.  That’s a huge number and it can be traced back to the state’s mountainous terrain.  But 90% of 1.8 million is nowhere near the eight million cable households in Texas.

See how little these decisions have to do with volleyball teams and driving distances?

 

9.  Slive’s ego could play a role in the SEC’s moves.

That’s what one executive from a national media agency told us recently.  ”Larry Scott is now the guy that everyone’s talking about.  Mike Slive is no longer the flavor of the month.  He’ll be looking to do something that puts him back on the front page.”

The size of Slive’s ego is up for debate, but it’s clear that this is legacy-building time for the SEC’s commish.  Three years ago, it looked as though he would be remembered for his CBS/ESPN deals.  Things change quickly.  Those deals still have built-in escalators and they provide long-term stability to the league and its schools, but they also set the bar for other leagues to jump over.  Some already have.  Time to write a new legacy.  Slive knows that.

 

10.  Now that other leagues are making major moves, it’s possible the SEC is about to get down to serious business.

Matt Hayes of The Sporting News wrote Sunday that a “high-ranking SEC official” told him that “every option is on the table now.”  Presumably, that means that the SEC is willing to nix its “we’re not going to raid a stable conference” stance.  If so… ’bout time.  The Big Ten raided the Big 12 last year.  So did the Pac-12.  In fact, the Pac-12 tried to abscond with six Big 12 schools last summer.  The ACC has now twice raided the Big East for a grand total of five schools and counting.  Why the SEC has been the lone league to try and take the high road we have no idea.

Repeatedly, we’ve stated that realignment and expansion are about business and revenue and footprints and brand names and television households, etc.  Well, business can get pretty ruthless at times.  If the SEC sees a school that it wants, there’s no reason it can’t make a pitch.  And if the fear was of legal hang-ups — like the threatened lawsuit by that nitwit running Baylor — then clearly the SEC was the only league with such a fear.  Potential lawsuits didn’t stop the Pac-12 or Big Ten last summer.  Potential lawsuits didn’t stop the ACC this time around, either.  And the ACC was actually sued by the Big East back in 2003 for snatching Boston College, Miami and Virginia Tech.  The $5 million settlement in that case clearly didn’t serve as much of a deterrent to raiding again.

 

11.  Slive needs a home run.

Fair or not, the view from afar has been of an SEC in decline when it comes to television rights fees.  Slive would no doubt point out that the SEC’s revenue is comparable to the Big Ten and Pac-12 when each schools’ self-owned Tier 3 rights are figured in, but that doesn’t fit in a headline or on a ticker crawl.  So no one would pay attention.

If the SEC winds up grabbing a fallback candidate or two while other leagues are tying up major media markets (ACC) or bringing in coveted brand names (Pac-12), the perception will grow that despite its football prowess, the SEC is being caught and passed by other conferences.

 

12.  If the SEC winds up with West Virginia, you’ll know it had to go the fallback route.  

West Virginia has approached the ACC and the SEC.  The ACC has apparently chosen four schools over WVU: Pitt, Syracuse, UConn and Rutgers.  The Big Ten was rumored to be looking East and South toward Maryland, UConn, Rutgers and Georgia Tech last year.  Never were the Mountaineers mentioned.

We’ve already explained why — small state, so-so academic reputation, small television markets.

If the ACC took four teams from the Big East and chose not to pursue West Virginia, how could the SEC go for the Mountaineers without looking like an inferior league to the ACC?

Now, if the SEC raids the ACC and makes off with team or three, then you’ll know that the SEC is indeed as big and bad as so many fans claim on messageboards and talk radio shows.  If the SEC grabs coveted, big name schools, you’ll know that Slive was right all along about getting to 16 schools in 15 minutes.  You’ll know that the SEC is indeed a very attractive destination.

 

13.  There never was a “gentleman’s agreement.”

When SEC expansion became a hot topic last summer, there was never talk of a so-called gentleman’s agreement not to pursue schools located within the boundaries of current SEC states.  But this summer, the internet percolated with rumors that Florida State, Clemson, Georgia Tech and Louisville would not be SEC expansion candidates due to a special league-wide deal.

In Hayes’ piece for The Sporting News, he wrote Sunday that: “The SEC’s gentleman’s agreement of not adding teams to states where current SEC teams reside is likely no longer.”

At this site, we’ve said repeatedly that two SEC sources have told us that there never was a gentleman’s agreement in the first place.  In addition, we’ve pointed out that that Slive seems to be too shrewd a businessman to limit his own options.  Also, Florida didn’t stand in the way when the SEC pursued Florida State two decades ago.  And if the presidents of the SEC’s schools see that adding a school can better protect their institution’s long-term fiscal health, they’re not going to worry about how much such a move might hurt their football recruiting.

So when we’re talking about Slive hitting a home run, yes, we mean possibly going right after Florida State — the biggest football jewel in the ACC’s crown.

 

14.  Missouri and West Virginia appear to be the leaders for Slot #14.

Last summer, we examined both West Virginia and Missouri as potential SEC expansion partners.  From a business perspective we labelled WVU as the longest of long shots.  We touted Missouri, however, as being a better choice than some might think.  We were pretty much laughed out of the South over that one.

Now?  Well, things have changed.  Texas and Oklahoma weren’t interested in the SEC and Mizzou looks to be the next best choice from the Big 12.

 

15.  WVU’s academic reputation won’t impress SEC presidents.

After pointing out today that West Virginia ranks just 164th in the latest US News and World Report rankings, we’ve been bombarded with emails and comments stating that WVU has actually jumped into the Top 100.  What the senders and posters of this fact didn’t realize was that WVU’s Top 100 status is in regards to public schools only.  In reality, WVU is indeed #164 and it would be the lowest-ranked SEC school upon entry.

SEC presidents are sensitive to claims that their league is a win-at-all-cost, jock-first diploma-mill society.  And these men are academicians in the strictest sense of the word.  Jocks aren’t making these expansion decisions, pointy heads are.  If they have to choose between bringing in a school with strong athletics and strong academics and a school with strong athletics and so-so academics, they’re going with the school that helps the SEC’s reputation on both fronts.

Several Mountaineer fans have pointed out to us just how many Rhodes Scholars WVU has produced.  And how strong some of the school’s individual programs are.  All that’s surely true.  West Virginia University is not some community college.  It’s a major university with a good deal of funding.  But it doesn’t have the clout — for example — of a Texas A&M which is in the AAU and is ranked as one of the top 60 universities in the nation.

 

16.  And academics do, too, matter.

Money is driving the expansion train.  No question.  No debate.  We’ve been screaming that from our rooftop for more than a year.

But there are other factors at play that help decide in which direction a league might go to make more money: overall athletic success, athletic budget, facility size, campus culture, location, population base, television market size and, yes, academics.  Some leagues worry more about academics than others.  The Pac-12, ACC and Big Ten are usually quite snooty.  The SEC and Big 12 aren’t.  And the Big East features a lot of commuter schools.

Think about it — you rarely see schools move from tip-top academic leagues to so-so academic leagues.  Not saying it can’t happen, but presidents and trustees would need a lot of big green reasons to make that kind of move.

Also, it’s important to keep in mind that athletics are the front porch to a university, but they aren’t the university itself.  Example: Only a handful of schools top $100 million in terms of athletic spending.  But on average, Big Ten schools receive and spend more than $500 million in academic research funding.  (For more on academics, check here and here.)

As for the SEC and academics, this spring, the league’s football coaches argued that oversigning helped them recruit and helped them win.  But the league’s presidents put a cap on signing classes anyway.  They blew off their coaches’ wishes proving that the league’s presidents are quite tired of being called a jock-first conference.  If those presidents can bring in a school that raises the league’s academic profile… they’ll do it.  If such action makes them money, of course.

 

17.  I want you to want me, Mizzou.

Missouri makes a lot of sense for the SEC.  It borders three SEC states.  It’s home to big TV markets in Kansas City and St. Louis.  It has a population of six million people (with lots of cable households).  It’s an AAU school that would rank in the top half of the SEC in terms of US News and World Reports’ rankings.

Too bad then that Missouri administrators would prefer an invitation from the more Midwestern and more academically prestigious Big Ten.  That league left Mizzou at the altar last summer, but the Tigers apparently aren’t over their unrequited love for Delany’s Legends and Leaders.  Depending on who you ask, Missouri might be ticketed for the Big Ten (eventually), the SEC, or a Big East-Big 12 combo conference that would feature the leftovers of those two leagues.

One thing is clear, Missouri isn’t as dead-set, all-in for the SEC as Texas A&M, Arkansas and South Carolina were when they climbed aboard.  If you were an SEC president how would you feel about that?  Would you want to marry someone who still had eyes for another?

We don’t know what MU chancellor Brady Deaton is telling Slive behind closed doors, but it’s clear the gung-ho spirit of A&M’s “SEC-cede” movement does not exist in Columbia.

 

18.  Please, no more with the “But what about the kids?” talk.

Okay, raise your hand if you’re tired of hearing talking heads and columnists trot this one out: “But what about the student-athletes?”  And that’s usually followed by, “How ’bout the women’s track team that will have to fly from Bermuda to Vancouver?”

Ugh.

You know how all these secondary, money-losing sports are paid for?  Through television dollars generated by football and basketball (mainly football).  So the argument could easily be made that when leagues expand and realign, they are thinking of the student-athletes.  With more money coming in, those sports will be more stable and those athletes will enjoy better facilities.

As for travel, since 1978 the Pac-10 — now the Pac-12 — has stretched from Tucson, Arizona to Seattle, Washington.  That’s 1,500 miles.  That’s about 100 miles south of Canada to about 70 miles north of Mexico.  And since 1991, Boston College and Miami have been conferencemates in the Big East and then in the ACC.  That’s also 1,500 miles of travel.  (For comparison, it’s about 1,000 miles from College Station, Texas to Columbia, South Carolina).  Bottom line: Athletes have been traveling great distances for 30 years.  Now they can afford to travel in a bit more style.

 

19.  So what should the SEC do now?  

If MrSEC.com were running the Southeastern Conference, we’d start working on Florida State right now.  FSU offers no new television markets and no new recruiting ground, but the Seminoles do offer one of the biggest brand names in college sports.  Think Penn State, Nebraska, Texas and Oklahoma.  Florida State is considered a big dog.  Networks would pay good money to add that kind of drawing power to their package.

If the SEC can land FSU, it should stand pat.  Texas A&M would bring an enormous new state, new television markets, eight million cable households and fertile recruiting ground.  Florida State would bring name value as good as any program in the country.  If you want to argue this one, forget it.  There is no logical argument against this combination.  From a business perspective, there’s not an administrator in the SEC who wouldn’t consider this a dream scenario.

Another dream scenario — though we consider it to be a pipedream scenario — would be adding North Carolina to Texas A&M.  UNC is a great school and it would bring in the entire state of North Carolina in terms of television markets, population base, recruiting ground, etc.  Several people around the SEC believe Carolina is Slive’s ultimate target.  If he could pull such a move off, it would qualify as just the type of home run “get” we mentioned earlier.

If we couldn’t land FSU or UNC, we’d make a strong push for Virginia Tech.  Just substitute Virginia’s TV markets, population base and recruiting ground for North Carolina’s.  A no-brainer if Slive could lure Tech away from the University of Virginia and a league the Hokies fought for 40 years to get into.

If the SEC were unable to grab any of those valuable ACC schools, then the league would probably need to turn to a combo of A&M, Missouri, Kansas and West Virginia.  That would be four new states, three new AAU schools, three solid football programs, four solid — and one legendary – basketball programs, as well as a handful of new Top 50 television markets.

That’s what we would do.  In order.  From a business perspective.

 

20.  But you said West Virginia was a bad fit from a business perspective.

And it would be.  That’s why a Mountaineer invitation would require a larger combination of schools to help make up for those areas where WVU comes up short.  Could the SEC make enough money with the A&M, Mizzou, Kansas, WVU combo we just tossed out?  That’s debatable if you’re just talking network dollars.  But if you’re talking about starting a new SEC network — and again, we don’t know that the league’s contracts would allow it — then, yes, the money would definitely be there even with WVU.

What the Mountaineers would bring would be a perfect cultural fit for the SEC.  WVU is good athletically.  To compete in the SEC the program would need to start recruiting Florida and Georgia pretty hard, but a slot in the SEC East might help with that.  And Mountaineer fans are rabid.  There’s no other way to describe them.  Like Texas A&M, WVU would be a “fit” culture-wise.

 

21.  Please don’t take offense.

We’re trying to break down what the SEC will likely do and why.  We’ve talked to numerous sources inside the SEC and with other BCS programs about our views.  Aside from Point 19, we’re not telling you what we want to happen.  We’re telling you what we think will happen.

So when we mention a school’s academic rankings, we’re not tossing out insults.  We’re stating facts.  And it’s not like Slive is reading this site right now saying, “Hmmm, I didn’t realize that state was so small.”  (He’s also not likely reading the comment boxes, so there’s little need to respond with a “But we’ve had 19 Truman scholars, you jerk!”)

 

22.  Didn’t Florida State just agree to raise the ACC’s exit fees?

FSU sure did.  The ACC raised its exit fees from about $13 million to $20 million.  The vote was unanimous.

We still wonder, however, why Florida State broke the news last week that it was forming an expansion/realignment committee.  Why do that if the ACC already had an expansion plan in the works?  What’s left to study?

It seems doubtful that a school would vote to increase its own exit penalty, but politics can force some strange moves.  For all we know FSU officials felt the only way they could buy themselves more time to study realignment was to go along with the increased exit fee plan.  As is the case with most schools we see mentioned, we still wouldn’t rule out FSU as a potential SEC partner.

 

23.  Ah, but we would rule out these schools…

Cincinnati and Louisville.  Traditionally good in basketball.  Occasionally good in football.  Both are viewed as commuter schools and both are located in major metro areas.  That doesn’t fit the SEC’s profile.  (Cincinnati’s Nipper Stadium also seats just 35,000, by the way.)

TCU.  A private school in a large metro area.  A religious affiliation.  Good in football right now, but very bad in basketball.  Sorry, but the school just doesn’t fit the SEC’s profile.  (It is a Top 100 college, however.)

East Carolina.  No one is campaigning harder than the Pirates.  But while the school does offer some pluses in terms of location and up-and-coming athletics, it doesn’t carry the clout or name value of any of the ACC’s North Carolina-based schools.  And we’re talking national name recognition, so save the “We beat NC State regularly” talk.  The school is also ranked #194 by US News and World Reports.  That won’t wow SEC presidents.

Clemson, Georgia Tech, and Miami.  We don’t see it.  None of the three would bring in extra dollars for the SEC.  And while Miami has a big name — a big, bad name — it’s a private school that plays in front of so-so crowds in a pro stadium.  That doesn’t fit the SEC profile.  But we will give you this one: Clemson and Georgia Tech — perhaps — could squeak in as part of a four-team combo a la West Virginia as we explained earlier.  It just doesn’t seem likely from a business perspective.

 

24.  We have nothing against your school, sports fans.

MrSEC.com wouldn’t care if any of the above schools landed in the SEC.  We’re not employed by the league and no one here roots for an SEC team, either.  So no one at this site is “scared” of your team coming into the SEC, as one pro-WVU reader suggested on Monday.

We also can’t be swayed.

The fact that Davey O’Brien and Sammy Baugh once played at TCU doesn’t move us.  The fact that ECU is aces in baseball — a non-revenue sport — means zip to us.  And, since West Virginia has been passed over by the ACC and Missouri has been passed over by the Big Ten, yes, they are by definition leftovers.

 

25.  Yeah, we’re getting pretty sick of this stuff, too.

We’re not going to lie to you, this expansion stuff is great for business.  But it’s also tiresome.  If you think you’re sick of hearing/reading about expansion, imagine how sick of writing/talking about it we must be.  So here’s hoping we get some closure soon.  It would be nice to focus on actual football games for a change, would it not?

But as we said way up in Point 2… this thing could drag on for a good while longer.

 

(Final note… if you notice some typos or grammatical errors, be sure to check the posting time.  We humbly ask for some slack.)

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Rumors Have SEC Taking Leftovers: Mizzou Or WVU

Yesterday, a Pittsburgh radio host tweeted that West Virginia has sent paperwork to the SEC:

“Same university source who told me Dana was getting hired –& was spot-on re: everything–says WVU sent paperwork to SEC today.  We’ll see.”

Meanwhile, SI.com’s Andy Staples claimed that Missouri is the SEC’s target for the School #14 slot:

“Yes.  RT @gregrazer: Are u also being told that MIZZOU will be #14 (if Big 12 implodes)?”

So what do we know so far?  First, that rumors of SEC business usually begin outside the SEC.  Leaks may come from schools the SEC is talking to, but they don’t come from inside Mike Slive’s tight-lipped ranks.

We also know that Missouri and West Virginia are leftovers in the college expansion game.  At least so far.

Missouri packed its bags for the Big Ten last year only to be publicly snubbed.  Things might change this time around — if everyone goes to 16 schools — but to date the Big Ten has continued to leave Missouri brass out in the cold.  The Tigers have been mentioned only in connection with some Big East-Big 12 combo and the SEC.  From the sound of things in Columbia, the SEC is a fallback spot for the Tigers and not a first choice.

West Virginia has reportedly applied to both the SEC and the ACC.  But the ACC has decided to chase Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Connecticut and Rutgers instead.  Why?  When the Mountaineers are just as good in football and basketball as any of those schools?

Because West Virginia is just the 37th-largest state in the Union with small television markets.  Anyone grabbing WVU would have to hope networks would credit the school with the Pittsburgh TV market.  And the state’s small population means it holds little recruiting value for SEC coaches.  (Currently, there’s not a Top 100 football player or a Top 150 basketball player in the state of West Virginia, according to Rivals.com.)

Also — and this is another reason why WVU was not one of the hundred candidates mentioned in connection with the Big Ten last summer — the school does not have a tremendous academic reputation.  It currently ranks #164 in the US News and World Report rankings and it’s not an AAU member.

The current lowest-ranked school in the SEC is Mississippi State at #151.  The league’s average rank is #98.  So if/when WVU enters the league, it will immediately become the league’s least-prestigious school.  Fair, not fair, them’s just the facts.

Last summer in our “Expounding on Expansion” series we ranked 18 potential SEC expansion partners in a variety of categories that league presidents would have to consider: athletic budget, facilities, population base, recruiting ground, television markets, athletic success, academic reputation, etc.

Of the 18 schools we scored, WVU came in 18th.  Dead last.  (For the record, Texas A&M ranked #2 and Missouri ranked #9.)

From an athletic and cultural perspective, the Mountaineers couldn’t be a better fit.  But when it comes to the things that are driving the current expansion push, WVU scores poorly.  Which is why the ACC and Big Ten haven’t shown much interest.

From an SEC perspective, it’s a shame that Missouri and West Virginia couldn’t be combined — and perhaps they could… by bringing both into the league…

Academics:  Where WVU is lower-ranked (that doesn’t make it a diploma mill by any means, by the way), Missouri is a member of the AAU and the #90 school according to US News.

Desire:  Missouri would rather go elsewhere, but WVU would love to land in the SEC.

Geography:  Both expand the SEC’s footprint and borders, but…

Population/Television:  Missouri is a state of six million residents (West Virginia has 1.8 million) and it includes the Kansas City and St. Louis markets.

Athletics:  Both schools have quality facilities as well as good football and basketball programs, but WVU gets the slight edge.

Cultural Fit:  Both are college-first towns.  Columbia ranked in the Top 10 in a recent poll of the country’s top college-sports-crazed areas.  But WVU is a perfect match for the SEC with its ultra-nutjob, couch-burning fans (and we mean that in a good way.)

In a perfect world, the SEC would have added Texas A&M and another big-name, big-population, big-TV draw from the East… and then stopped at 14 schools.  As of now it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen.

So the SEC might have to race to 16 just as the Pac-12 and ACC appear to be on the verge of doing.  If so, adding A&M and Mizzou for population, academic and TV purposes along with WVU for athletic and cultural purposes would be solid moves.  They wouldn’t equal a Texas/Oklahoma pairing for the Pac-12 or a Syracuse/Pitt/UConn/Rutgers push for the ACC, but they would broaden the SEC’s portfolio.

Now, if the SEC did grab those three schools — and that’s a big, big if at this point — the most logical 16th school would be Kansas or TCU.  Kansas carries major hoops clout and sports a 100-year football history with Missouri.  That might help woo Mizzou.  And imagine an SEC Tournament final of Kentucky versus Kansas.

TCU doesn’t fit the SEC’s profile — not a traditional power, located in a metro area, not the biggest draw in its area — but it would enable the SEC to double-down in Texas for TV and recruiting purposes.

Despite messageboard rumors, the Louisvilles and Cincinnatis and East Carolinas of the world are highly unlikely to receive SEC invites.  Louisville and Cincinnati are seen as commuter schools and that doesn’t fit the SEC profile.  ECU is just not a national player in any sport and academically it ranks just 194th according to US News.  From an ego standpoint, what message would it send for the Pac-12 to add Texas and Oklahoma, the ACC to add Pitt, Syracuse and UConn, only to see the SEC add… East Carolina?

For the time being, Missouri and West Virginia appear to be the most likely schools to join the SEC family.  And the truth of the matter is, they’re both leftovers.

It’ll be interesting to see if the SEC indeed has to settle for schools other leagues have passed on or whether Slive can pull a rabbit out of his hat at the last minute.

Who do you want the SEC to take?  Vote in our Facebook Poll here.

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Country Star Paisley Burns A Razorback Rug

File this one under “Much Ado About Nothing.”

As part of a tour prank, Arkansas-based group Eden’s Edge recently stole the West Virginia welcome mat that country star Brad Paisley keeps in front of his tour bus.  They replaced his WVU rug with a Razorback rug.  Video here.

Paisley — a West Virginia native — responded by lighting fire to the Hog rug.  His salvo was also captured on tape.

Well, whoops-pig-sooie… some folks might not like that.

Of course, anyone taking offense at a harmless prank like this really isn’t worth worrying much about:

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SEC Headlines – 6/10/11 Part Two

1.  Former MSU athletic director Greg Byrne recently asked Arizona fans — where he now works — to report any Wildcat NCAA violations they know about to Arizona’s compliance department.  (Time for some SEC programs to follow suit?)

2.  LSU might be facing Dana Holgorsen’s first West Virginia team this fall… rather than Bill Stewart’s last.  The Sporting News reports WVU is working to buy out Stewart today.

3.  Arkansas’ football staff are preparing to host the Hogs’ summer camps.

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Puerto Rico Heartbreak: Vanderbilt Loses to WVU on Buzzer-Beater

Vanderbilt
Content provided by Vanderbilt Sports Line.

I have not seen the game footage, but according to ESPN LiveStats Vanderbilt lost in heartbreaking fashion this afternoon. After battling back from a 44-33 halftime deficit and a 65-55 margin with just over 5:00 to play, Vanderbilt rallied behind the sharpshooting John Jenkins (27 pts, 5 reb) to tie the game at 71 with 33 seconds to play. West Virginia held for the last shot, and sank a three-point attempt just before time expired. With two seconds remaining, it appears Rod Odom missed an attempt to send it into overtime. Devastating.

I am proud and encouraged to see that Vanderbilt showed character and fought back from a significant margin against a strong Big East team; that JJ rediscovered his stroke; and that Rod Odom showed some huge potential coming off the bench to help out (11 pts). I am demoralized to see that Jeff Taylor played only 14 minutes and was 1 of 4 from the field with 5 points. Update: Apparently he fouled out (thanks Eazy E). The fact that 53 fouls were called and 73 free throws shot in this game is truly insane. I don’t know if I’ll be able to watch the recording.

More updates to come. Vandy plays the loser of UNC-Minnesota Sunday at 4:30 CST on ESPN2. It will be another great challenge no matter who they face.

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Vandy v. WVU

Vanderbilt
Content provided by Vanderbilt Sports Line.

So I’m not nearly as skilled in doing previews as Stanimal, Bobby or Seamus so…..

Here is a preview from Andy Katz (http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=5824577)

And I’ll just say this. I don’t have a very good feeling going into this game. Reminds me of the Cinci game last year. Basically, we didn’t play very well yesterday. Jenkins is shooting .091 from 3-point line, Jeff is yet to impose his will consistently on less athletic players and no one else scares the other team on offensive. While we have a lot of talent we need to find a consistent 3rd scorer (Brad/Festus/Stevie-T) though I wish Lance could be that guy.

Meanwhile West Virginia has averaged 89.5 points per game so far and are getting scoring from everywhere. Also as a New Yorker I am born to respect the Big East (in Basketball at least) so a team that is as battle-tested as West Virginia scares the bee-jesus (spelling?) out of me.

I leave it open to everyone else to give some predictions. I do think Jenkins breaks out of his 3-point slump and I think Jeff rebounds from his poor 2nd half performance but I’m not sure that will be enough to win. I guess we will see.

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Saturday Open Thread 10/30/10 – Day Games

LSU
Content provided by And The Valley Shook.

Carville says it's rude to mix politics and football (This is another one of those "I have no idea why we got sent this phto, but I might as well use it")

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Bill Haber – AP

Carville says it’s rude to mix politics and football (This is another one of those “I have no idea why we got sent this phto, but I might as well use it”)

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The vast emptiness of the Bye week. Plenty of games to watch with implications for our future.

1st off, that WVU win is looking worse all the time.

TSK has your SEC slate preview, where the cocktail party will be fun to watch, but ultimately unimportant for us. Though I’m sure we’ll all take a certain amount of glee at watching UF lose 4 in a row for the first time in memory.

The real action is of course the “everybody has picked it, so it wont happen” Ole Miss upset of Auburn later tonight. Sure, It could happen. Also, be aware of some potential uniform shenanigans by the ReBears. And 3D!

Meanwhile, in the National Buffet, all the undefeateds are hitting the road for big tests, but thanks to the genius program directors at ESPN, you’ll only get to see one of MSU-Iowa or Mizzou-Nebraska.

So sit back, relax, and enjoy a saturday where your heart will not be stress tested.


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