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South Atlantic (SEC East):
South Central (SEC West):
The SEC has won seven consecutive FBS national championships, making it the envy of most teams outside of the SEC.
The Southeast is home to many strong in-state rivalries such as Florida and Florida State, Kentucky and Louisville, and Georgia and Georgia Tech. The problem is that all of these are nonconference rivals. The SEC is reportedly not interested in teams from states in which it already has members. Since it does not appear any SEC team is interested in leaving, the chances of any of these in-state rivals becoming conference rivals is slim or none. On the other hand, Auburn and the Mississippi schools are already in the SEC. I hate the fact that Florida State and Louisville aren't "good enough" for the SEC, but Auburn and both Mississippi schools are.
I think Florida is more of an ACC school than an SEC school. Unlike most of the SEC, the University of Florida is a very strong academic (high-ranked) school and an AAU member. It has also won two national championships in college basketball, a sport most SEC schools south of Lexington struggle with.
Before Texas A&M joined the SEC, Florida was by far the most populous SEC state. I associate the SEC more with small towns and small states. In addition, several SEC fans are known for dressing up for football games (which I personally think is dumb), but Florida fans dress like normal fans.
I also think Kentucky belongs in the ACC. I would rather see UK play Duke and North Carolina (and Louisville starting in 2014-15) than most of the other SEC schools. I think a good trade would be Kentucky to the ACC and Clemson (which has not been great in basketball) to the SEC.
That being said, why not just bring all of the major Southeastern schools together? Of course there are far more than ten schools, so I split the SEC into two conferences, the South Atlantic (or SEC East, if you like) and the South Central (or SEC Central or SEC West). Just like the Big Ten, I moved the schools west of the Mississippi (Arkansas and LSU) to another conference.
My No. 1 priority is to unite Florida and Florida State in the same conference. I also put the University of Miami with them. The three may not play in football, but they will play in every other sport. Miami basketball won the ACC regular season and tournament this year, while Florida State won last year's ACC tournament. I can see basketball games between the Gators, Seminoles, and Hurricanes to be exciting in years to come. Baseball is very big in Florida, so additional games between the three schools have to be welcomed by their fans.
In addition to Florida, Florida State, and Miami, I added South Florida and Central Florida, giving the South Atlantic (SEC East) five Florida schools.
I also added to the South Atlantic Conferences the in-state rivals from Georgia (Georgia and Georgia Tech) and South Carolina (South Carolina and Clemson).
Unfortunately, if you keep conferences at 10 teams, you can't add Kentucky without splitting it from Louisville, Tennessee without splitting it from Vanderbilt and/or Memphis or even Alabama without splitting it from Auburn.
I believe this would be a good conference with nine schools, but I decided to add East Carolina from North Carolina as a tenth school. Charlotte might have worked as well, but it is a private school in a conference with mostly (all but Miami) private schools.
Kentucky and Louisville headline the South Central (SEC Central or SEC West). If nothing else, Kentucky and Louisville would meet twice every season, meaning the Wildcats and Cardinals would host each other every season rather than every other season. The UK-UL rivalry would be right up there with Duke vs. North Carolina, especially as long as Pitino is coaching (he coached Kentucky a long time ago).
In addition to Louisville, I also feel Memphis belongs in the SEC. So it joins the South Central with Tennessee and Vanderbilt, putting all three schools together.
Joining the Kentucky and Tennessee schools is the University of Cincinnati. It doesn't seem like a Southern school, but Louisville, Cincinnati and Memphis were once in the Metro Conference, which was founded in 1975. The three schools were all in Conference USA before Cincinnati and Louisville left for the Big East. Memphis eventually was invited to the Big East, but Louisville will leave for the ACC.
Rounding out the South Central Conference are the two Alabama rivals and the two Mississippi rivals.
The South Central should be one of the best basketball conferences with Kentucky, Louisville, Memphis and Cincinnati leading the way. Tennessee has had recent success with Bruce Pearl (and Cuonzo Martin took the Volunteers to the NCAA's last year). Vanderbilt and Alabama also made the NCAA tournament last year. Mississippi won the SEC Tournament this year and won its first NCAA tournament game in over a decade this season.
On the other hand, the South Atlantic will be far weaker. Florida has won more NCAA games between 2000 and 2012 (26 wins) than the other nine schools combined (15). Georgia Tech made the 2004 Final Four but has struggled in the ACC since. If the South Atlantic formed today, I would expect Florida to dominate this conference in most years. Florida State and Miami should be its biggest challengers.
In addition to splitting the SEC into two conferences, I did the same to the Big 12.