College Realignment: Dear SEC, Please Invite a 14th Team and Get It over With!
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Hello, college football fans!
There are many rumored changes to the college conference landscape. Connecticut is rumored to be heading to the ACC. The Big 12 is talking about BYU, TCU and other teams. The Big East is inviting anyone who's willing to come in.
But everything is now on hold for one reason. The SEC, after inviting Texas A&M, is waiting on finding a 14th team to its conference.
Mike Slive said they can deal with 13, but everyone knows they want a 14th team. I'm not from the South, but I can pretty much guarantee that if they have a six-team SEC East and a seven-team SEC West, the folks from Alabama and LSU will be complaining it's unfair.
Plus, I'd like to see how the schedule for a 13-team conference plays out.
The wait for the SEC is affecting other conference's expansion plans.
The Big 12 obviously needs to expand soon. The question is whether they will have nine teams to start with or eight (if Missouri decides to join the SEC).
The ACC is also in a holding pattern. Connecticut wants to join the ACC. The problem is that UConn would need a partner to join them since I'm sure the ACC doesn't want to have 15 teams.
Who should be the SEC's 14th member?
Let me just put two long-shot choices to bed now.
Why would Notre Dame want to join the ACC when they can join the Big Ten (assuming they even want to join a conference in football)? As for West Virginia to the ACC, let me use words West Virginia fans can understand: Y'all ain't smart enough to be in the ACC!"
The only "reasonable" academic and geographic fit would be Rutgers. I'm sure North Carolina, Duke, Maryland and the rest of ACC basketball would love Connecticut, but can do without the RPI hit come basketball season.
Here's the problem with the ACC inviting UConn and Rutgers now. What if the ACC invites them, and then the SEC steals an ACC member? (There may be a $20 million buyout but who's to say that will stop them.)
Then the ACC is stuck with Rutgers, and has 15 members with no good fit for the 16th team. If this happens, I would recommend Temple. They are in Philadelphia, a market the ACC doesn't have, and they are ranked higher than West Virginia in the U.S. News rankings.
I think this is (or should be) the game plan for the ACC: Wait for the SEC to make up its mind.
If the SEC takes Missouri or West Virginia, then add Connecticut and Rutgers. If they steal an ACC member, then add Connecticut by themselves and stop at 14 teams.
Who would you rather have in the ACC?
So the SEC stall is probably holding up the ACC and UConn. It's also holding up the Big 12 as well as the Big East. They don't know if UConn is staying or going and/or if West Virginia will go to the SEC or Big 12.
Many conferences and many teams are remaining in limbo because of one conference, the SEC.
As for the ACC, I would personally love the ACC with UConn (to go with Duke, North Carolina, Syracuse, Pitt and Maryland). I'm not excited about Rutgers joining, but I can deal with it.
If the ACC can take Connecticut without Rutgers, I would love it. But the only way that happens is if the SEC steals a member. I know the ACC really doesn't want to lose anyone, but I think if the right team leaves the ACC and UConn enters, I would like the ACC more.
I will guess the SEC won't take anyone north of the Mason/Dixon line. That takes out Boston College, Pittsburgh and Syracuse.
I am not hearing a lot about Virginia or Maryland. Both would bring the SEC to the D.C. area. But if anyone gets an invite from the SEC to get into the D.C. market, it's Virginia Tech.
Two other schools I don't hear any rumors at all about are Wake Forest and Miami. I personally wouldn't miss either of them, but I doubt the SEC will take either (especially with the mess at Miami now).
I am pretty sure North Carolina or Duke wouldn't want to leave the ACC for the inferior SEC basketball conference (especially with Syracuse and Pitt and maybe UConn coming in).
From the SEC standpoint, adding a school in North Carolina State would be great financially. It would be a chance for the Wolfpack to separate themselves from UNC's and Duke's shadow. From the ACC standpoint, we still would basically own North Carolina, but I fear opening North Carolina to the SEC could hurt the ACC in the long run.
That leaves four schools: Florida State, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, and Clemson.
Of these four, the one I don't want to see leave the ACC by far is Florida State. Without the Seminoles, the only presence in Florida for the ACC would be Miami.
They are also one of the biggest football signature names. The ACC without Florida State would be a disaster. I may be a basketball fan. but I think all football and basketball fans agree they would be devastated if FSU leaves. Remember, Florida State made the Sweet 16 last year, and they had some good years with Bob Sura.
To me, giving up Florida State for UConn is a bad deal.
If Georgia Tech leaves, the ACC loses its presence in Georgia and Atlanta. Atlanta is probably more of an SEC city now than an ACC city. But if Georgia Tech joins the SEC, it's a 100 percent SEC city.
The ACC had some basketball tournaments in the Georgia Dome and attracted record crowds. Georgia Tech also made a couple of Final Fours. I'm not sure I would trade Georgia Tech for UConn.
Virginia Tech is probably the most likely team to get an invite from the SEC. Unless you count NC State, the Hokies are the only ACC team not in an SEC state.
If the ACC had it's way back in 2003, Virginia Tech wouldn't even be in the ACC right now (they wanted Syracuse instead of Virginia Tech). The governor of Virginia, at the time, pressured the ACC to take them. So in that aspect, maybe it's not a bad thing for Virginia Tech to leave.
Demographically, the ACC would still command a huge presence in D.C. with Maryland and Virginia (but again, competing with the SEC anywhere is not good).
Virginia Tech basketball doesn't have a great tradition (known more for NCAA snubs than NCAA performance). The problem, of course, is Virginia Tech has won three of the last four ACC championships in football. As long as Florida State struggles, Virginia Tech is needed to make ACC football relevant on a national stage.
Finally, we have Clemson.
I said last year it would be a bad move for them to take Clemson. But if the ACC had to lose anyone (assuming the SEC won't take Wake Forest or Miami), of course, I want it to be Clemson.
We all know Clemson isn't the best in basketball, although surprisingly, they've been decent lately, and won their first NCAA game since 1997 last year (although, technically it's a play in game and shouldn't count).
As for demographics, we would lose South Carolina.
It's the ACC state with the least population right now. Now, Connecticut has fewer people than South Carolina, but they command the whole state (Clemson has to share with South Carolina). Plus, UConn borders New York and would add exposure in the New York market.
Would you rather lose a Florida school, a Virginia school, a Georgia school, a North Carolina school, or a South Carolina school? It's no contest to me.
Of course, the one stumbling point is football, and I'll be the first to admit Clemson is having a great season. Then again, they haven't won an ACC championship in a long time (since then Wake Forest and Maryland have won) and their coach is named Dabo.
So would losing Clemson in football be that bad, especially if you can trade them for the defending national champion in basketball? (And by the way, their football team also made the BCS last year.)
If the ACC can give Clemson to the SEC and take UConn without taking Rutgers, I would celebrate. Of course, I highly doubt the SEC would add a school from a state with a current member, and if they did, it would be...gasp...Florida State.
But Virginia Tech, Florida State, Clemson, Missouri, West Virginia—I don't care SEC (well I do care if it's FSU), just take someone already!
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