SEC Realignment: 10 Options for the 14th Team

Charles BennettSenior Analyst ISeptember 29, 2011

SEC Realignment: 10 Options for the 14th Team

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    The SEC recently added Texas A&M as its 13th member and within the next few years will, at the very least add a 14th member to balance out the conference. Most likely it will at some point add 15th and 16th members to become a 'superconference'.  In that spirit, I offer 10 suggestions for the next SEC member(s), a combination of pickings from the disintegrating wrecks that are the Big XII and Big East, a few steals from the ACC, and some promotions of mid-major programs.

10. Tulane

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    Current Conference: Conference USA

    Best bowl since 2000: 2002 Hawaii Bowl

    I bet you're wondering why I picked Tulane.  For starters, Tulane will give the SEC a stronger presence in the all-important New Orleans market.  Tulane has traditional ties to the SEC. It was a member of the conference until 1966, and has an on-again, off-again rivalry with LSU.  Also, for a superconference to work, you need patsies for the big boys to beat up on, and Tulane fills that role quite well.

9. Memphis

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    Current Conference: Conference USA

    Best bowl since 2000: 2003 GMAC Bowl

    I mention Memphis for similar reasons to Tulane.  The move would solidify their presence in a mid-size market, add a patsy for the bigs to beat up on and has on-again, off-again rivalries with Tennessee and Mississippi State.  Also, the addition of the Memphis basketball program could help out the SEC's not-as-stellar basketball program, which is among the shallowest of the Big Six conferences.

8. TCU

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    Current Conference: Who knows?

    Best bowl since 2000: 2011 Rose Bowl

    TCU is trying to set a record for most conferences belonged to in the last 20 years.  It would make geographical and monetary sense for them to get off the sinking ship that is the Big East and join a more football-oriented conference.  It would also make sense for the SEC to add the Dallas market. 

7. South Florida

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    Current Conference: Big East

    Best Bowl since 2000: 2007 Sun Bowl

    South Florida is the first Florida school on this list.  They are an up-and-coming school that has only played FBS football.  It would make sense for them to get off the sinking ship that is the Big East, and for the SEC to beef up the Tampa market.

6. Texas

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    Current Conference: Big 12

    Best bowl since 2000: 2006 Rose Bowl (won national championship)

    Getting arguably the biggest football program in the land would be a coup for the SEC, especially with Texas' perennial rival A&M jumping to the SEC as well.  The reason this ranking is so low is because it's not particularly likely. Texas is apparently more likely to jump to the Pac-12 than the SEC, and will want to keep its own TV network wherever it goes. 

5. Louisville

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    Current Conference: Big East

    Best Bowl since 2000: 2007 Orange Bowl

    Louisville, a former Conference USA team, is similar to Memphis and Tulane, except much better.  It gives the SEC the Louisville market, and even an entrance into Midwestern markets.  It has a strong rivalry with Kentucky, a not-inconsequential football program and a strong basketball program.  If the SEC could pry Louisville out of the Big East, it would make sense as a 14th member. 

4. West Virginia

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    Current Conference: Big East

    Best bowl since 2000: 2006 Sugar Bowl, 2008 Fiesta Bowl

    West Virginia seems to make the least geographic sense of any team on this list.  However, they did used to be a member of the Southern Conference, which was the parent of the SEC and ACC before it dropped down to mid-major status.  West Virginia brings successful programs in both basketball and football to the table, although it does not bring a large media market into play.

3. Clemson

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    Current conference: ACC

    Best bowl since 2000: 2001 Gator Bowl

    Clemson makes sense in that its biggest in-state rival is already in the SEC. Clemson also has a strong football tradition, winning a national championship and many ACC championships.  Its basketball program isn't that bad either.

2. Georgia Tech

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    Current conference: ACC

    Best bowl since 2000: 2010 Orange Bowl

    Georgia Tech was in the SEC until 1964, has a traditional rivalry with SEC stand-by Georgia and getting them back in the SEC would give the SEC a stranglehold on the huge Atlanta market. Georgia Tech is a perennial power, with several ACC championships, a national championship and bowls in every season since 1997 (oh, and don't forget the 1916 Cumberland game).

1. Florida State

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    Current conference: ACC

    Best bowl since 2000: 2001 Orange Bowl (lost national championship)

    Florida State is one of the biggest football programs in the SEC's region that's not in the SEC.  It has done very well in the last 20 years, and now has a strong rivalry with SEC powerhouse Florida.  Adding Tallahassee would be the most sensible move for the SEC.