There have been numerous rumors and stories written about the possible expansion of the Big Ten to 12, 14, or even 16 teams. If the Big Ten chooses to expand to 16 teams and create the first super-conference there will undoubtedly be a major ripple effect throughout the nation.
Let’s say the Big Ten is able to pick up Missouri and Nebraska from the Big 12, two teams from the Big East, probably Rutgers and Pittsburgh, and finally Notre Dame would join the party.
Such a power move would force the hand of the other power conferences, and the SEC would undoubtedly come out on top in this struggle to create the best mega-conference possible.
It is very possible that the SEC would expand to 16 teams, and the schools who I believe should join in will help make it the most dominant conference in the nation.
These schools are Miami, Florida State, Texas, and Clemson.
Miami is an obvious choice given its geographic location and football tradition since the 1980s. Miami is also a perennial power in baseball and several other non-revenue sports.
Everyone groans about the lack of fan support for the Hurricanes, but I would guess that many SEC fans would not mind scheduling a vacation to go see their team play in Miami for a weekend.
There may not be many Miami fans, but Sun Life Stadium would be packed regardless.
Florida State can make the same claims as Miami can with regards to tradition and geography. It also has natural rivalries with Florida and Miami already, and by having this trio of schools play each other every season, the SEC would benefit greatly from the monstrous national TV exposure these games would get.
In my eyes, Texas would be the toughest to bring over to the SEC. They are the kings of the Big 12 right now, and they have one of the best athletic reputations for all sports throughout the nation.
However, if expansion does run its expected course, there would be no sense in Texas remaining in the Big 12 if Nebraska, Missouri, and possibly Oklahoma all left to different conferences.
The addition of Clemson may not be the most newsworthy, but the Tigers would certainly make a positive impact on the conference.
Clemson has a great fanbase, tradition, and a built-in rivalry with South Carolina. Clemson has been on the cusp of good things in basketball as well, which would certainly help the SEC improve its reputation on the hardwood.
Geographically it would only make sense to place all four of the new teams in the East Division. This simply wouldn’t work, and I would propose a North-South format to compensate for what would be a very east-leaning conference.
In the North, I would have Kentucky, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Georgia, Alabama, Arkansas, Ole Miss, and Clemson.
In the South would be Texas, LSU, Mississippi State, Florida, Florida State, Miami, Auburn, and South Carolina.
In my opinion the Southern division would certainly be superior for football, but the North would harbor more basketball talent.
In this format, I would propose that every team plays a round-robin schedule within their division plus one opponent in the other division to allow for rivalries to stay intact.
I have purposely split up rivalries such as Florida-Georgia, Arkansas-LSU, Ole Miss-MSU, and Clemson-South Carolina in order to ensure the tradition of these rivalries will remain. By having them play their single out-of-division game against each other, the prestige of the rivalry would remain intact.
The in-conference competition every week in the SEC would be far greater than what any other conference could ever hope for.
While the Big 10 is dreaming up ways to match up Northwestern and Rutgers on a chilly November afternoon, the SEC could potentially have a game between Florida and Texas occurring on the same day in Gainesville.
No matter what the Big 10 does, SEC football will remain superior in the expansion era.
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