5 SEC Schools Who Would Benefit from Leaving the Conference
Conference realignments have settled down a bit in major college football after the seismic shifts that occurred just a few years ago. Don’t expect the trend to be over, however, as conferences and schools continue to look for a new edge.
Inside the SEC, there are five teams that could make moves away from the most powerful conference in the country and see huge gains as a result of the change.
Some schools would be able to step into other conferences and challenge for titles, while others look for a more natural fit and competitive balance. These are the five teams that would gain the most by jumping out of the SEC.
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Surprised to see a founding member of the SEC on this list?
You shouldn’t be. You may be just as surprised to know that Tulane was also a founding member. Founding member or not, the Auburn Tigers would be a solid pick to defect in the future.
The Tigers shift would be reminiscent of Texas A&M’s this past year. The Aggies were in a major conference with an in-state rival, but they jumped at the opportunity. They found a fit and now the Aggies are one of the premier programs in the conference.
Auburn could do the same with a jump to the ACC. The Georgia Tech and Florida State games would return, and the recently rekindled rivalry with Clemson could become an every year occurrence.
This program already recruits deep in ACC territory, and it could lock Georgia or Alabama as an out-of-conference game every year. All five of these teams would do well with a shift, but Auburn would be one of the most beneficial moves of all five.
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The Missouri Tigers stepped into the SEC and looked lost from day one. They started the year with a huge loss to Georgia and never recovered. The season ended with the Tigers getting blasted by Texas A&M 59-29.
This program is talented, but it is nowhere near SEC level, and it could take a long time to get there.
The Tigers have premier athletes at specific positions, but the overall depth isn’t there to compete in the SEC. There isn’t a strong enough recruiting base for Missouri to pull from to get past the hump, so the best move is to move on.
This team would fit really well in the Big Ten, should that conference look to go to 14 teams. There are natural rivalries that would be born, and the Tigers could be more competitive on the recruiting trail.
Look for Missouri to be checking the wanted ads for conference realignment real soon.
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The SEC loves Kentucky for the mint juleps and the basketball. The football program struggles to bring value to the conference, and unless there is a major change soon, the program never will.
The Wildcats have no natural rivalries in the SEC, and a step into a conference where basketball rules and the football program could be competitive makes sense.
If this program were to shift a jump to the Big East would be a solid move.
The natural rivalry is already set with Louisville, and the Wildcats would join a basketball league that plays competitive football and has a BCS tie-in.
Nothing would be lost, but plenty would be gained for this program with this move. Why it hasn’t happened yet is unclear, but Kentucky could be a dual-sport presence on the national stage inside the Big East.
South Carolina Gamecocks
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South Carolina hit the SEC in 1991 with Arkansas during the conference expansion after serving time in the ACC and as an independent.
The Gamecocks have been competitive over the past half-decade under Steve Spurrier since being a part of the SEC, but prior to his hiring, the Gamecocks were on the verge of terrible every year.
This program has won a division title once, and they have never won the SEC. The most natural rivalry for the Gamecocks is Clemson, and they play at the conclusion of every season.
Making a move to the ACC or Big East would be a positive shift for this program. The ACC would provide a rekindling of rivalries and a return to the natural fit, and the Big East would provide the Gamecocks with an easy road to the national discussion.
A move like this one isn’t likely, but the Gamecocks would thrive outside of the SEC instead of being stuck in the middle-of-the-pack.
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The Razorbacks joined the SEC in 1991 when the conference expanded with the Hogs and South Carolina.
Since that time, Arkansas has gone from a national power to a middle-of-the-pack top conference team. The Razorbacks have won four SEC Western Division titles, but they have never won the SEC.
This program is always on the edge of taking over the national audience, but key losses unfold and the team finished as a 10-win squad behind three or four others in the SEC.
This program needs to return home and join the Big 12. As the Big 12 looks to bring back into the conference title game it needs to find two more teams. Arkansas would be one of them, and the Hogs could keep their rival LSU as an out-of-conference matchup every year.