SEC Planning SEC Network for 2014: Will It Spur More Conference Expansion?
The SEC continues to dominate the college football world both on and off the field, and the fact that the conference is looking at forming its own network in 2014 only reinforces that fact. The SEC owns the last six national championships in a row and conference commissioner Mike Slive made two quality additions to the conference last year in Missouri and Texas A&M.
It seems that the rich only get richer.
However, the SEC isn't an island. Their new TV contract just might have an impact on the other power conferences across the country. Therefore, let's take a look at how this new TV deal may affect conference realignment around the country:
The ACC must be getting increasingly nervous as rumors suggest that Clemson and Florida State might be willing to join the Big 12. The prospect of a new SEC network must add to the conference's anxiety.
It’s no secret that the big name teams in the conference—namely Florida State—are unhappy with their latest TV deal. It’s a really good thing that Florida State isn’t too keen about joining the SEC or the ACC would have lost them already.
If the ACC can find a way to make their teams more money, they’ll be able to stay together. They might even be able to pick up a few more teams if the Big East blows apart. In fact, the ACC may want to become more aggressive expansion-wise and pick up additional Big East teams before the conference blows apart.
If they don’t, the ACC may see their best football teams rush for the exit. Good thing teams like Duke and North Carolina primarily care about basketball.
If any conference holds the key to the next round of college football expansion, it’s the Big 12.
While Big 12 bigwigs continue to insist that they’re happy with 10 teams, it’s only a matter of time before the lure of the money and extra prestige that a conference championship game can bring will cause the Big 12 to get back to 12 teams.
The rumored candidates for Big 12 expansion are literally all over the map. They go from BYU in the West, to Florida State in the South to Rutgers in the North with various teams in between. And while Big 12-newcomer West Virginia is anxious to add additional teams closer to them, it seems that Texas just wants to stand pat at 10.
The Big 12 would be more worried about the SEC’s new TV deal if it weren’t for the fact that they’re going to partner with the SEC for a new “Rose Bowl East” game in a New Year's Day bowl.
If and when the Big 12 decides to pick up more teams, it'll have major consequences for other conferences. The ACC seems to have the most to lose if the rumors that Clemson and Florida State might join the Big 12 are correct. Such a move would cause the ACC to raid the Big East, which would likely lead to the Big East's demise.
Will a new SEC TV Deal affect conference realignment?
Therefore, the major deciding factor in the next round of college football expansion is if and when the Big 12 decides to expand, not the possibility that the SEC might get a new TV network.
The Big East has put together one of the most ridiculous conferences in college football history. This beast is a geographical nightmare, ranging from San Diego State to UConn to South Florida.
I hope their fans have been saving up some extra travel money.
This conference reminds me of the old WAC. Back in BYU’s heyday, the conference tried a four-square division set up with 16 total football teams. But the conference’s biggest names—BYU and Utah—got fed up with traveling to UTEP and Tulsa every now and again, and they broke off and formed a new conference.
As George Santayana famously observed, “Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”
Oddly enough, the addition of Boise State is the only thing keeping this conference alive right now. But it may be only a matter of time before the ACC and Big 12 swoop in like vultures and pick up the best remaining eastern teams. However, the Big East continues to do what it can to survive, including targeting Air Force and BYU for further expansion.
Honestly, I think that history is about to repeat itself and that the Big East is doomed as a football conference.
The Big Ten got a steal of a deal by picking up disgruntled Nebraska from the Big 12. Now they have two poorly-named divisions (Leaders and Legends? Really?) and a conference championship game and the money that goes with it.
Apart from trying to pick up the ever-elusive Notre Dame, there really isn’t anyone out there that fits the conference's geographic and academic footprint. The conference may pick up some ACC or Big East leftovers should either conference fall apart, but there’s no real need for this conference to be aggressive in expansion regardless of whether or not the SEC gets a new network.
The Pac-12 is in danger of getting left behind in the latest round of college football realignment.
The irony is that it was Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott who got all this conference expansion going by extending bold invitations to Texas, Oklahoma and much of the Big 12's big names. The Pac-12 accepted Colorado with the expectation that more Big 12 schools would follow.
Texas and Oklahoma must have found a map and saw that they're nowhere close to the pacific coast. Once the Longhorns and Sooners told the Pac-12 thanks but no thanks, the Pac-12 picked up Utah as their 12th team.
Utah is actually a quality edition in football. They've got two BCS bowl wins under their belt, and that was as a non-AQ team.
Colorado? Not so much.
Sure, the Buffaloes have the high academic standards as a school that the Pac-12 unceasingly brags about, but what else does Colorado bring to the table? They haven't finished ranked in the top 25 in either the AP or USA Today polls since 2002.
If the Pac-12 gets left behind, it'll be their own fault. They have two quality football programs sitting right in their geographic footprint that they'll never even consider adding: Boise State and BYU.
BYU has finished in the top 25 in at least one poll six times since Colorado did so, while Boise State has finished ranked eight of the last 10 seasons with several top-10 and even top-five finishes as well as two Fiesta Bowl victories.
But the Pac-12 doesn't want either program because neither team meets the snooty academic standards of the conference as well as the fact that BYU is a church-owned school.
However, who does the Pac-12 take if not BYU and Boise State?
They're not going to be able to raid the suddenly-stable Big 12, and I don't expect any Big Ten schools to even give the Pac-12 the time of day.
Who else is available within a thousand miles of their current schools? Fresno State? Nevada?
That's why the Pac-12 is pushing for conference champions only in the new playoff system. If they get their wish, then the Pac-12 will stand pat as surely their conference champion will be one of the top-four conference champions.
But what happens if the Big 12/SEC get their way and the playoff simply takes the top-four teams? Sure, most years the Pac-12 should produce one team in the top four, but what if the Big 12 or SEC get two teams up there?
However, unless there are some major changes of attitude in the Pac-12, this conference isn't going to expand, new SEC TV deal or not.
Unless the SEC gets another quality program handed to them on a silver platter, there's no reason for the conference to make another move.
There's no one in the Big East that the SEC would even consider giving an invite to should that conference blow apart. Now, in the unlikely event that the ACC falls apart, the conference could find teams like Virginia Tech and North Carolina appealing.
However, the SEC is the strongest conference top to bottom right now as their six national championships in a row attest. If a strong program falls into their lap, like Texas A&M and Missouri did, they'll take it. But if not, then it's not like they need any more teams to stay on top of college football.
And the fact that they might get a new TV network just might be the cherry on top of the SEC's massive sundae of success.
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