Friday, June 11, 2010

More thoughts on expansion

ESPN has a great article with comments from the Ex-SEC commissioner. The one thing that is constant in the world is "change". Most people don't like it, but it's going to happen so everyone might as well embrace it. The article gives some insight into each of the conferences and some possible moves.


  1. There has been a lot of public speculation about what the SEC will do. Here are my current thoughts:

    * Behind the scenes, the SEC is being aggressive. Strong circumstantial evidence says the SEC is talking with Texas, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, VA Tech, and Florida State.

    * The SEC wants Texas, but Texas does not want any part of the SEC. KCTV in Kansas City says the Longhorns are negotiating with the Big Ten. The PAC Ten is a fallback scenario for the Longhorns.

    * I do not see how Florida State has anything to offer the SEC. The Seminoles' basketball program is second-tier, and their football program has faded from its glory days. The school is an academic cesspool. Florida would oppose SEC admission for Florida State, and I would not blame the Gators for doing so. More importantly, Florida State brings nothing whatsoever to the table as a new TV market.

    * VA Tech has a very strong football program, but a weak basketball program. VA Tech would open the Hampton area TV market and help the SEC make inroads in the DC area media market, but VA Tech is not exactly a media darling these days.

    * Oklahoma is a good fit. The Sooners are very strong in basketball, very strong in football, and would bring a pretty solid media market in the Oklahoma City area and northern Texas.

    * There is no way Texas will join the SEC, but the other names above could hypothetically bring the SEC up to 16 member schools. But as I suggested, it is highly questionable whether Florida would allow the SEC to take Florida State. So, one wonders, which other schools might be on the SEC's radar screen? Oklahoma State is looking at the PAC Ten. North Carolina and Duke will never join the same conference as UK. West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina State, and Clemson would bring no TV market and, thus, do not seem to be good fits. UK would never allow UL to be admitted. Memphis and Cincinnati are nonstarters. But four other serious possibilities come to mind. Maryland, Missouri, Georgia Tech, and Miami would bring serious urban TV markets. I would keep an eye on them. BTW, I don't know if Georgia would try to block Georgia Tech, but I'm sure the SEC would love to have a stronger media presence in Atlanta.

    * For the last two weeks, I have believed the Big Twelve was about to fold. A lot of Big Twelve fans hoped Colorado and Nebraska would be replaced by TCU and Brigham Young, thus keeping the conference from exploding. But I have not believed that. I think the Big Twelve will disintegrate within days, setting off a game of musical chairs. Now, the next big question will be about the viability of the ACC. Once the first ACC school bolts, all heck will break loose.

    * No matter what happens, I'm not buying claims from Big Ten fans that the Big Ten is about to surpass the SEC as the nation's strongest football conference. I am hearing this claim a lot this week, but it's hollow bluster. The SEC has won the last four NCAA football championships. Texas and Ohio State have been iamog the losers in those games. If Big Ten fans think they are about to overtake the SEC....with or without Texas and Notre Dame....well, they are dreaming.

  2. Messenger ...

    Some very good thoughts here. Just a few comments to add:

    * Most think Missouri is Big-10 bound.

    * Most, including you and I, are looking at this PRIMARILY, although not exclusively, from a football perspective. As you hint, however, academics and hoops will play a bit of a role. The Big 10, in particular, tries to pride itself on academic excellence and at least claims that any potential member would have to bring not only TV market dollars but academic credentials as well.

    * Most talk of SEC expansion only makes it even tougher for UK Football. I mean, some have speculated FSU, Miami, GA Tech and Clemson. Texas, Oklahoma or OK State would be tough, too. From a UK football perspective, Maryland and Mizzo would certainly be preferable.

  3. Some interesting thoughts there, and I agree with you.

    I think the conferences are looking at it from the standpoint of *money* and expansion of media markets. They want to be holding more cards when their network TV contracts come up for renegotiation.

    So I do not see it as football over basketball, but rather as football being supremely attractive to the networks, particularly in the SEC's case. Still, some of the viable alternatives (particularly Oklahoma) would strengthen the SEC as a basketball conference too. Some of the schools in question are win-win from both the athletic standpoint and the media standpoint. IMO, that's where we need to focus during the next several weeks.

  4. ESPN is reporting today that Texas and Oklahoma have gone back into negotiations with the PAC Ten. This story follows news heard through ESPN and Kansas City TV station KCTV earlier in the week that Texas was looking at the Big Ten and Oklahoma was talking with the SEC.

    Under the circumstances, I don't doubt any of these reports. Texas and Oklahoma are two of the most desirable schools out there right now. They hold the future of the Big Twelve in their administrative hands. If they decide to stay put, then the Big Twelve will eventually be able to replace Nebraska and Colorado and stay in business. But if they decide they want to bolt, they can go to almost any conference of their choosing. And, right now, Texas and Oklahoma are talking with everyone.

    It remains to be seen how all of this will affect the SEC. It seems pretty clear that the SEC is currently talking with a lot of schools, which would lead one to believe that the SEC will expand. The particulars remain to be seen. Above, I gave some reasons why certain schools will probably not be taken by the SEC. But there is a long and growing list of viable SEC candidates.