Hello, college football fans!
With the Pac-10 and Big 10 (and MWC) already expanding, it would seem the SEC should be considering expansion (and I'm sure they are.)
So here's my take on who the SEC should consider and one school a lot of people say they should consider but I believe they shouldn't.
Obviously one of the main reasons for a conference to expand is to expand its geographical footprint. Well, the SEC really can't expand further East (unless there's schools in the Atlantic Ocean I'm not aware of) or South (unless there's schools in the Gulf of Mexico I'm not aware of.)
So that leaves two directions: West and North.
The West of course leads you to Texas and Oklahoma.
If you can grab Texas, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State, of course that's a slam dunk.
There's rumors that Texas A&M is interested in the SEC but Texas is not. Will Texas and Texas A&M part ways or will one convince the other to go to one conference (Pac 10 or SEC)?
I'm assuming should Texas and A&M go to the same conference, then Oklahoma would probably want to go to the same conference (and Oklahoma State of course would want to go with Oklahoma.) But if Texas and Texas A&M split up, what do Oklahoma and Oklahoma State do?
I would be stunned if Texas, Texas A&M, and Oklahoma weren't the top three teams on the SEC's wish list (with Oklahoma State the tag-along to Oklahoma.) But what if they all go to the Pac-10? Then what's next for the SEC?
Obviously, Texas has other schools that might be available. None of them are obviously Texas or Texas A&M, but if any of them can increase SEC exposure in Texas (specifically in Dallas and/or Houston) they have to be considered. You've got TCU and /or SMU in the Dallas/Fort Worth Area (TCU making the BCS last year) and Houston and Rice in Houston.
Depending on what happens with the Pac-10, Texas Tech and Baylor may also be available and both competed in the Big 12 as opposed to TCU, SMU, Houston, and Rice, but neither is in one of the major Texas markets (unless you consider Waco or Lubbock major markets.) Lubbock is in the western part of the state so that would be farther away from the SEC schools.
Another possibility on the west side could be Missouri assuming the Big 10 isn't interested. Missouri doesn't really have any rivalries with any SEC school now but does border Arkansas to the North and would bring two big markets (St. Louis and Kansas City) to the SEC. Maybe Kansas can come with Missouri to continue the "Border War" between the two schools (and Kansas will bring more of the KC market as well as Kansas basketball.)
Now in terms of expanding geographically North, we get to North Carolina. I imagine North Carolina, Duke, and NC State are all attached to the hip and at I would imagine at least UNC and Duke would not be interested as obviously they are more basketball schools than football schools.
I think Wake Forest probably stays with the three ACC Carolina schools as well.
Obviously going to Virginia is skipping a state and increasing travel distance for the SEC schools, but Virginia Tech would be a great add in football and Virginia isn't a bad state to add to the SEC (possibly extend into the DC area.)
Maybe Virginia Tech and Virginia are a package that has to be taken together but I would think the two together (or just Virginia Tech) would make the SEC happy if they can't get the Texas and/or Oklahoma schools.
Another option up north would be West Virginia should either or both of the Virginia schools be content with the ACC (I can't imagine many schools would be content to stay in the Big East, especially if it folds.)
But of course West Virginia is a relatively small state in population. I think the only way West Virginia would make sense is if one of the Virginia schools says yes and the other say no (Virginia Tech and West Virginia used to be bitter rivals before the Hokies moved to the ACC.)
Now of course another option for the SEC would be to choose schools inside the SEC footprint.
Although none of the other schools bring a new state to the SEC, some schools might increase SEC exposure in additional parts of the state. And unlike the schools in the new states
The first state that comes to mind to me is Florida, the largest state in population in the SEC currently. Florida State would be a natural rival to Florida.
Then there's Miami. Both Florida and Florida State are quite far away from Miami. Adding Miami could strengthen the SEC presence in South Florida.
Now both FSU and Miami have been down in football recently, but of course both have won multiple national championships and have proud traditions in the sport.
I think these two are by far the best of the schools available inside current SEC states.
Two schools I think that aren't talked about that much are Louisville and Memphis.
Of course the SEC owns both states, but do they own the two cities? Obviously football is the bigger sport in most of the SEC but I don't think seeing Kentucky and Louisville playing each other in basketball twice a year is a bad thing.
Memphis would bring more of a presence in Memphis/western Tennessee although I'm not sure the rivalries with Tennessee and/or Vanderbilt are that strong.
Now of course there is Georgia Tech, centered right in Atlanta, the unofficial capital of the SEC. Of course you got the rivalry with Georgia and Georgia Tech is the reigning ACC champ (over the past five seasons, the Yellow Jackets are 2nd to Virginia Tech in most ACC conference games won.)
Then again, the SEC already has a huge presence in Atlanta without Georgia Tech and Georgia Tech has a relatively small student enrollment.
And finally the one school that to me makes no sense at all: Clemson. They may have a good football program, but there are a lot of good if not better football teams available.
Clemson won a national championship. So have Texas, Oklahoma, Florida State, and Miami and Georgia Tech shared one (all more recent than Clemson).
If I had a choice between having two schools in Florida, two schools in Georgia, or two schools in South Carolina, I'll take Florida and Georgia in a heartbeat. Both states have more than twice as many people than South Carolina. In terms of city population, Tallahassee, Miami, Atlanta, Lexington, and Memphis are far bigger than Clemson, South Carolina.
And remember South Carolina is one of the two newest admitted schools in the SEC and clearly behind Georgia and Florida in football.
I'd imagine most people not living in South Carolina would much rather see Florida/Florida State or Georgia/Georgia Tech than Clemson/South Carolina (unless you like seeing brawls that is). I would think Florida and Georgia are much more important to the SEC than South Carolina is.
Of course Texas, Texas A&M, and Oklahoma would be the top of my list if I were the SEC. I would imagine the Florida schools and the Virginia schools would be next depending on whether rivalries and travel distance or expanding the TV market is more important (although if the North Carolina schools are interested they'd be worth it too).
After those, then I think Missouri would be worth a look and if any of the remaining Texas schools could bring a significant SEC presence to Texas I'd consider it.
As for Clemson, I would consider about 15-20 schools before I would consider Clemson if I were the SEC. So unless the SEC decides to expand to 20 or more schools or at least ten schools turn the SEC down, you're not going to convince me Clemson deserves an SEC invite or that they bring a lot to the table.