Which 2 Teams Should the SEC Take If They Expand?
Obviously, this is pure speculation since there is no evidence that the SEC plans to expand their league this year. After all the conference reshuffling in the Big 10, Big 12, MWC and WAC last year and with Texas A&M coming to the SEC asking to be taken in as a new member, it would not be unrealistic to think that the SEC may plan on expanding in the future.
But which teams are the obvious choices? Which ones want to get in?
The Hokies are a perfect fit for the SEC. The SEC is a football conference and Virginia Tech is a football school in the ACC, where basketball is king.
Lane Stadium is certainly an SEC caliber stadium that seats over 60,000 people and is considered by Rivals.com and ESPN.com to be one of the toughest venues to play in as a visiting team.
Since joining the ACC in 2004, Virginia Tech has been ACC conference champion four times. Head coach Frank Beamer is currently tied with Jim Tressel as the second-winningest active head coach in Divison I football.
Adding Virginia Tech would expand the SEC's media reach into areas like the Beltway, Washington DC and those wealthy Virginia suburbs.
With Blacksburg, VA only 236 miles from Knoxville, TN, there is no doubt the Hokies-Vols game would become an immediate rival game. In fact, Virginia Tech once suggested they play Tennessee in the Bristol Motor Speedway arena, which seats over 160,000. This could be an annual conference game venue, much like the Red River Rivalry (Texas-Oklahoma) and Georgia-Florida games that are played in neutral sites.
With Texas signing a $12 million contract with ESPN for a Longhorn network, the other schools in Texas are about to get left in the dust.
The Aggies are going to have to find a way to get out from under the shadow of the Bevo's horns.
In the SEC, the Aggies would be able to legitimately compete with the Longhorns, not only in terms of money, but more importantly, recruiting.
Four and 5-star recruits who under current conditions would go with the Longhorns over the Aggies on signing day would be faced with perhaps giving the Aggies a second look now that they would have a chance to play against Alabama, LSU and Florida.
Plus, having A&M in the conference would be a media and recruiting dream for the SEC. Getting into the media markets of Dallas, Houston and San Antonio, not to mention the rich supply of Division I caliber football players that come out of Texas high schools.
The Aggies bring a rich football tradition of the 12th Man and who knows, by getting into the SEC, they may be able to get the defensive players they need to bring back the fear of A&M defense, 'The Wrecking Crew.'
The obvious SEC rivals for the Aggies would be LSU and former Southwest Conference foe Arkansas.
Clemson fans will probably object to this because every time I have mentioned that Clemson is a good candidate for the SEC, they usually seem to get offended, but hear me out.
Clemson's Memorial Stadium is the second-largest stadium in the ACC, seating over 86,000 people. Clemson fans are die-hard football fans, much like SEC fans.
Clemson legitimately has three schools in the SEC that they can call rivals. One, of course, is with the Gamecocks, but the other two are with Georgia and Auburn.
Back in the days of Danny Ford and Vince Dooley, the Clemson-Georgia game had national championship implications. Not to mention, Clemson recruits heavily in the state of Georgia.
Auburn-Clemson first played football against each other in 1899 and it was a yearly game from the 1940's to about 1971.
Clemson's football program boasts of a rich tradition of All-Americans and sending players to the NFL. They also have excellent facilities and good academic graduation rates.
Is there room in the SEC for two "Death Valleys," or would that fact alone create another SEC rival for Clemson? The Battle for Death Valley?
The Sooners will weather the new media arrangements of Texas far better then A&M will, but there may be some setbacks in recruiting for the Sooners.
The best way for Oklahoma to get revenge on Texas would be to join the SEC and take away any advantage the Longhorns may get.
Getting the Sooners would be a huge advantage for the SEC. It would get the SEC into the media markets of the Big 12 and the recruiting grounds of the Midwest. And, of course, Oklahoma brings to the SEC its tradition of seven national championships, 152 All-Americans, 43 conference titles, five Heisman trophy winners and being the only Division I program that has had four separate coaches with over 100 total wins.
Losing the Sooners would be a huge loss for the Big 12 and would probably cause it to collapse like a house of cards.
Arkansas would become an obvious rival for the Sooners for geographic and recruiting reasons.
Memphis fans, including the Athletic Director R.C. Johnson, seem to think that one day the SEC will wake up and realize that much like Cinderella, the Tigers' shoe fits in the SEC.
The only tangible asset Memphis brings to the SEC is a legitimate basketball program with a very nice venue for it, the FedEx Forum. Memphis also has a history in football with Ole Miss, Tennessee and Mississippi State.
But the negatives against Memphis are many. The city of Memphis is already an SEC town, and there are probably more Tennessee Vols fans in Memphis than in Knoxville. Plus, the largest Ole Miss alumni association in the USA is located in Memphis.
Thus, taking in Memphis would be a win-lose for the SEC, as Memphis would get all the benefits and the SEC would not gain much of anything.
The SEC already has the media markets in the city and SEC teams already get first dibs on the top high school football recruits from the city of Memphis.
Also, Memphis' football program is not very good, as they have yet to win a single division title, much less a conference championship since becoming a charter member of C-USA in 1995.
The University of Miami just announced last year that they had no plans of leaving the ACC, even after talks of mergers and super-conferences were underway.
But there is no doubt that having the Hurricanes in the SEC doesn't have the same panache it would have had back in the 1980's and 1990's.
Former Hurricane coach Butch Davis once joked that his wife's gym had better facilities than the Hurricanes did. And it is no secret that the city of Miami doesn't support the program—the Miami Hurricanes have only had 28 sellouts in their history.
On the other hand, Miami has just hired Al Golden, who turned Temple's football program around. And adding Miami to the SEC would give the conference a second Florida team and end the 2-1 ratio the ACC has over the SEC within the state.
The Hurricanes, despite falling on tough times since 2001, do bring a storied history. They have five National Championships and hold NFL Draft records.
Miami has a rivalry with an SEC school, the Florida Gators, called, "The Battle for the War Canoe Trophy."
Missouri has tried to leave Big 12 once already, when the Big 10 expanded last year.
The Tigers got stood up though, when the Big 10 decided to take Nebraska instead. So Missouri is obviously open to switching conferences.
Geographically, the state of Missouri borders the states of Tennessee, Kentucky and Arkansas, all home to SEC programs. Hence, the Tigers could theoretically develop rivals with any or all of those SEC schools once they are in the conference. Also, the SEC would benefit from gaining access to the media markets of Kansas City and St. Louis.
Missouri has recently become more and more competitive in the Big 12, winning three divisional titles. However, Missouri has not won a conference title since 1969.
Perhaps what Missouri needs is a new conference to allow them to have a competitive edge in recruiting in the Midwest.
This may seem like an odd suggestion since the Wolfpack are not really a strong football program.
They struggle in the ACC and have not won an ACC title since 1979. However, taking NC State into the SEC would be mutually beneficial.
The odds of the SEC getting UNC to leave the ACC are nonexistent. But NC State struggles primarily because they play second fiddle to UNC in football recruitment, and to both UNC and Duke in basketball. As a member of the SEC, the Wolfpack would immediately get a leg up on UNC in football recruiting.
The Wolfpack already have a rivalry with the South Carolina Gamecocks, which goes back to the days when the Gamecocks were in the ACC. However, once they join the SEC, there is a chance a rivalry will start with the Vols from Tennessee.
Lastly, NC State is located in Raleigh, the second largest city in the state, and according to Forbes magazine, one of the richest cities in the USA. This means that the SEC can not only expand into a nice media market, but also that lots of people can afford to travel for games, buy SEC paraphernalia and help NC State bring their facilities and stadium up to SEC standards.
Now that Bobby Bowden has retired, Florida State can now consider making a play for the SEC. Bowden was vocal about the fact that he had no interest in joining the SEC.
In 1990, he said: "We have established our identity, and in the SEC, the teams are so good, it doesn`t allow for any type of non-conference schedule. Most conferences have two good teams and another popping up occasionally. The SEC has six and that would be a minus, not a plus, for us."
The Seminoles have two national championships, have won twelve ACC championships and they are only seven games below .500 against SEC schools at 60-67-6, a record much better than some of the other schools mentioned on this list.
And with the city of Tallahassee so close to the borders of Alabama and Georgia, it is possible that the Seminoles could develop a rivalry with the Crimson Tide, the War Eagles and/or the Georgia Bulldogs, adding to the one they currently have with the Gators.
The Cowboys, thanks to T. Boone Pickens and hiring the right coaching staff over the last decade, are poised to break out of the Sooners shadow.
OSU now has some of the finest football facilities in college football. Over the last decade, the Cowboys have gone bowling ever year but one, in 2005.
The only thing holding OSU back is the fact that, when it comes to recruiting against Texas and Oklahoma, the Cowboys are still at a disadvantage.
Getting into the SEC would help level that recruiting field for OSU in the Midwest and in the state of Texas.
Arkansas would naturally be a rival for OSU if brought into the SEC, as would LSU, due to the fact that they recruit heavily in Texas.