Texas A&M and SEC Expansion: Who Will Get the Prized 14th Spot in League?
It is official.
Texas A&M has just been accepted into the Southeastern Conference, a move that will take effect on July 1, 2012. The Aggies will begin competing with SEC programs in all sports beginning with the 2012-2013 academic year.
With the SEC having secured its 13th team, talk of adding a 14th is already underway, although no public announcements have made anything official.
Here are five potential candidates for the SEC's 14th spot.
Despite Florida State's recent actions to maintain its place, or any school's place, in the ACC, the Seminoles would be a natural fit for the SEC.
The rivalry between Florida and Florida State could be one of the fiercest in the nation, and to snag one of the top performers in the ACC would be an incredible steal.
Tradition, prowess and accomplishment are already embedded in the Seminoles' programs, as they would draw on similar lines as many of the SEC's premier universities.
Call it the Florida State treatment.
Like the Seminoles, the ACC-based Yellow Jackets already maintain a great in-state rivalry with Georgia in the SEC.
Also, like Florida State, Georgia Tech is grounded in rich football tradition, as typically it is among the best in the ACC. And as the SEC operates under the assumption of the best conference in college football, snatching another conference's top performer will only add to the SEC's prestige.
Perhaps a less obvious option for the SEC's 14th spot would be to raid the state of Texas again.
Everybody knows the kind of rich football tradition harbored in the Lone Star State, and TCU would bring a valuable Fort Worth market, however small it may be, to the SEC.
Adding the Horned Frogs would also start to brew up a rivalry with the Aggies.
If SEC programs wish to get a foothold in Texas, they succeeded in securing A&M. Doubling up with TCU could present an unexpected possibility for the powers that be.
If football is king in the SEC, then look no further than West Virginia as a potential candidate for an invitation as the conference's 14th member.
With the Big East on the verge of losing Pittsburgh and Syracuse to the ACC, the Mountaineers could jump at the prospect of boarding with their neighbors down south.
Tradition and culture could make a perfect fit between the two, although natural rivalries would hardly make sense.
Nevertheless, Arkansas faced similar issues when it left the Southwest Conference. Perhaps West Virginia is the second coming of the Hogs.
The SEC could go back to the Big 12 for another raid, but this time in the north with Missouri.
The Tigers have often been an afterthought for the Big 12, and was the subject to being left out (along with Kansas, Kansas State and Iowa State) during last year's session of conference realignment.
Geography doesn't fit, but Missouri would bring a brand new television market to the SEC, as well as a foot in the Midwest.
There was talk of Missouri moving to the SEC with Texas A&M in a package deal, but the conference didn't want to be responsible for the breakup of the Big 12 and creating an astronomical imbalance in college football.
All things considered, save for the Big 12 conundrum, Missouri would bring good tradition and respectable athletic prowess to the SEC.