SEC Realignment: Could West Virginia Move to the SEC?
The rumor is (and right now it is just a rumor) that the SEC presidents have met and agreed to invite Texas A&M to join the SEC.
Potentially bigger news (again, just a rumor) is that the SEC presidents also gave the commissioner permission to contact Missouri and West Virginia.
While the naming of West Virginia as a potential new SEC member may surprise some, it's actually a move that makes a lot of sense for both West Virginia and the SEC.
First of all, there is the Big East problem. West Virginia has been the only Big East school to consistently perform at a high level in recent years. South Florida looks very good this year, and Cincinnati and Syracuse look to be on their way up as well, but everyone knows that the Big East is the weakest BCS conference.
The Big East is also desperate to stay relevant; this was proven by their addition of TCU (hardly an "Eastern" team).
West Virginia wasn't even ranked in the first Coaches Poll this year, despite winning nine games and returning a lot of players from last season. Do you think a nine win Big Ten, SEC, ACC, Big 12 or Pac-12 team would enter the year unranked? Of course they wouldn't.
Like Rodney Dangerfield, the Big East gets no respect. If West Virginia wants the respect they deserve, then they need to move conferences. So which one would they move to?
Who will be the 14th SEC team?
The Big Ten doesn't make sense, since they don't seem to want to expand right now. Even if they did, they'd likely be more interested in picking up the historic Rutgers program, Cincinnati or Missouri.
The ACC doesn't make sense because they tend to set a higher standard of academic excellence than West Virginia can satisfy; something the SEC doesn't do, so the SEC makes the most sense.
It is also a move that would make a lot of sense for the SEC.
When the initial reports came out that the SEC was interested in adding Missouri, Clemson and Florida State, along with Texas A&M a few weeks ago, the presidents of Florida, South Carolina and Georgia made a pact to block the addition of any school from those states.
This essentially would make it impossible for the SEC to add Clemson, Florida State or any other school from a state that already has an SEC team.
So what southern states are left? North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia and Missouri.
North Carolina has Duke, Wake Forest, NC State and UNC. UNC and NC State are ACC founders and wouldn't want to leave their in-state rivalries. Duke and Wake Forest would be bottom dwellers in the SEC.
Virginia has the University of Virginia and Virginia Tech. Virginia would be a bottom dweller and Virginia Tech would prefer to stay in a conference that it consistently dominates.
Missouri fits, but two western teams would mean conference realignment and no SEC team wants that.
That leaves only West Virginia as a truly viable option to add to the SEC. West Virginia has a top notch basketball program that could come in and immediately compete with Vanderbilt, Florida and Kentucky—creating instant rivalries there.
There is also, of course, their football program. If they were in the SEC East this year, they'd be competing with South Carolina and Florida for the SEC East crown.
West Virginia is a nearly perfect fit for the SEC and it may end up being the final piece of a 14 team SEC super-conference. The Pac-12 will likely answer soon with their 16 team ultra-conference and the Big Ten and ACC would be forced to act in order to keep up.
We may finally see chaos. Don't be surprised if West Virginia is the straw that breaks the camel's back.
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