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August 16, 2011

Who Would the SEC Target from the East?

I am still not convinced the SEC will expand...yet.  As I pointed out, this could be a move by TAMU to get Texas and the Big 12 a bit closer to even.  Not saying it will work, but it could be going down like this.  Also, the SEC won't likely move without a very good idea about who will balance the conference, and a better idea if it'll be 14 or 16 now.  And when 16 will happen.

The last time Mike Slive did something that wasn't planned to the barest detail, he was born a day early, although he did that on purpose.  As PWD put it to me, the conference presidents are strategic people.  They won't just jump on Texas A&M just because they can.  There are only three programs out there that I see as legit Napoleon Battle Plan types (show up and see what happens, making it worth moving to 13 schools without a 14th): Notre Dame, Texas, Oklahoma. 

So, we've all debated the merits of pursuing Texas, TAMU, Oklahoma, and Okie State. Notre Dame ain't coming. What if Slive and the Presidents are looking East?

If TAMU wants to come, great.  I don't think Slive will ask until the SEC has a very good idea who the 14 (and possibly 15 and 16 will be).  Slive knows the first dude in line has to load up the plate or some of the tastier morsels will be gone from the buffet.  The SEC can't/won't chance just getting TAMU and hoping to add a solid 14th, then get stuck with A) some random school that doesn't fit strategically, or B) Slive being forced to jam an in-state competitor school down a current member's throat.  Before you get all "adding FSU hurts Florida, which is good for Georgia," remember FSU hurts Georgia in recruiting plenty.  Same goes for Clemson.

So that leaves us with Virginia Tech, right?  Not a bad pick: strong academics, to satisfy those that would worry about such things; good athletics, to help with the product that brings the money in.  Strong DC area alumni base, getting the conference some access there (although DC is not a college football town; I'd equate it with Philadelphia in that it is much more a pro-football, college basketball town).  There is the pesky issue of UVa, as the Virginia Legislature might block a move without knowing what would happen to UVa's interests, but that isn't insurmountable like it would be in a state that cares a lot more about things such as that.

But what if the SEC decides it is time to go to 16 schools, and to do it now? How do they go about that? I have a couple of ideas that I'll post about later today.

What are your thoughts: Will the conference just get 13 and see what happens? 14 or 16?  What schools can they target/will they target?


For Further Reading:
- The Search for Number 14 - Team Speed Kills


Cousin Pat from Georgia said...

Strategery (sorry to bloviate):

I think that, if any of this happens, the SEC will first move to 14 schools. The conference to expands its television and recruiting footprints and keeps scheduling difficulties, buyout monies, and interdivisional rivalry disruptions to the minimum. Not to say that 16 team expansion won't happen eventually, but doing so right now might hurt the business model.

The SEC has to go after teams that would improve their current situation through membership, because this is going cost in buyout money. Getting to 14, most of that money is likely to come from the schools themselves.

Then you assume the SEC was truthfully saying they wouldn't expand into a current member's state. With all those factors, I see the draft board like this:

1. Texas A&M
2. North Carolina State
3. Virginia Tech
4. Missouri

NCST is #2 because investment potential + buyout requirement = worth the move. UNC would be the target, but they ain't leaving the ACC. NCST, on the other hand, is North Carolina's equivalent of Texas A&M.

VT is lower because they currently own football in the ACC, and could pressure the SEC to share their buyout money. That might be feasable when/if the SEC moves to 16 teams, it probably isn't right now.

Mizzou wants out of their current conference. They might be a target if the B1G follows the SEC to 14 teams (along with Kansas), but if they're still available I can see them joining a 16 team SEC and not caring that the conference is helping Virginia Tech with their buyout money.

Dawgnoxious said...

Adding Missouri is retarded. It's a weak school with no tradition of winning. That would be like adding South Carolina just to make an even number.

Tyler Dawgden said...

Not to be funny, but that is what happened in 1992.

Thankfully, I think Slive is better at this than Kramer was.

Irwin R. Flecther said...

#1- Wouldn't it be ok to at least fantasize about Notre Dame? South Bend is the same distance from Atlanta as Miami....Lexington is only 350 miles from South Bend...Gainesville is 1000 miles from South Bend or College Station...I guess when I see a league that spans from Lincoln to State College, PA, I don't think that ND is out of the question, geographically. I think that is an important point to make..

#2- I still think Louisville is in play. It makes a stronger case for a push into the Indy/Cincy markets. Plus, Louisville is a top 10 basketball program nationally. Completely changes the national perception of the SEC in basketball. UK-Louisville would happen at least twice a year and would be in Feb/March instead of as an exhibition in December. Plus, the football team isn't garbage. There are several SEC teams that can't boast going to the Orange Bowl and a couple of top 10 finishes in the past decade.

#3- Wild and crazy scenario of the day...what if you add ND for all sports other than Football and add some combination of Lousivlle, TAMU, Va Tech, etc.

However, as part of the deal, Notre Dame agrees to play 2 to 3 SEC teams per season in a rotation in football. The NBC contract runs out in 2015...I can easily see ESPN wanting to be able to control Notre Dame's schedule across all of its formats and different affiliations. Just a wild thought.

Tyler Dawgden said...

Fletch, I think we should be targeting ND, too. Delaney would be left sitting in the corner muttering to himself while pulling patches of hair out if that happened.

However, the SEC's silence tells me two things: One, they aren't doing the courting. ND has to be courted. Two, whatever moves are being made are being done so very quietly, something you just can't do with ND.

Also, ND not in the conference for football is a non-starter, I'd think, unless there is an explicit agreement that they'd join at the end of the NBC contract.

I'll get to Louisville in a bit, but I think they'd only be part of a 14 team strategy, and only if we can't find another eastern team to dance with. I think VaTech would dance, if asked.

southernized said...

I would much rather see teams in the south that already have some tradition with SEC schools get in. I know it would hurt for Clemson to get in but that is a great rivalry between many SEC schools already (Georgia, SC, Auburn). Miss st. and ole miss share a smaller state (pop. wise)than SC so i'm sure the other schools can get over it. Move to 14 - TAMU and Clemson. Move to 16- TAMU, Clemson, NCSTATE, Virginia Tech.

Irwin R. Flecther said...

Reading in the tea leaves of the 'silence' isn't really my thing. I'm not sure you can read much out of silence. But I think that is certainly a matter of opinion.

As far as ND not being in the conference for football...if they still have the leverage to get their own deal, which I believe they do, they aren't going to give that up to join any conference. The Big East (and in theory, the Big 12 based upon the Longhorn network) will let them keep their sovereignty in football and they aren't punting that to join any one.

I think we'll see ND on ESPN/CBS/
NBC, etc. after this current deal. I don't think that goes away.

However, I just don't see how the SEC could turn them down so long as you leveraged the affiliation with the other sports into an exclusive football rotation. That would in theory create a property for the SEC to package...think about the rights to 3-4 games each year putting ND against Alabama, LSU, A&M, UGA, Florida...etc. That's high cotton and certainly worth more than ND vs. Maryland or Wake Forrest. (of course, the ND brand would take a hit from getting blasted 3 to 4 times each year, thus, it would be a one time windfall and we'd be stuck with ND baseball...maybe you're right).

As long as we are throwing out wild scenarios...why not just add TAMU, Va Tech, Louisville, and Kansas. The SEC would instantly be the best football and the best basketball conference in America. (I'm kidding...sort of.)

Tyler Dawgden said...

Perhaps I am undervaluing the ability of ND to leverage the brand. They have four seasons to rebuild what has been lost the past few seasons. Much like a baseball player in his arbitration year, the next four are very important money wise for ND.

Cousin Pat from Georgia said...

While I think ND will eventually look at the reality of the situation and join a conference due to money issues, I can't see that happening in the short term. Hell, these are the folks who are flying the US Naval Academy to Dublin, Ireland for a game next season.

I definitely can't see that happening with the SEC under any circumstances, though. The Irish maintain serious rivalries with USC, Stanford, Michigan, Michigan State and lesser rivalries with Perdue, Boston College, Navy and Pitt. Joining any conference puts some of those at risk, and joining the SEC would put most of those at risk. Why do that when they can basically dictate terms and TV deals by themselves or with a conference they can control?

More likely, I see them waiting until the SEC and the B1G have settled out and raided the Big East, ACC, and Big XIIish to the bones, and only then jumping in to dominate a conference of their own (a la the Texas model). Best candidate for that will be the diminished Big East. And even then, that's a big "if."

Cojones said...

Don't knock Missouri's fan base. Went to a sports bar in St louis at an upscale mall. Ozzie's will get its share of customers, but this oversized warehouse-like dining and sports bar holds over 700. I went to see a UGA game around 2003 while consulting in that area and ran into a few LSU fans there to see us play. We were relegated to a corner (about 25 of us) for our game because all the rest of the 20+ TVs were turned to the competing Mizzou game. Forgot who they played, but the racket was thunderous.

Here we were, the loudmouths of the SEC and we kept looking over our shoulders when a fumble or long run occurred because the place shook. You can't go anywhere in Atlanta and get such a one-sided audience. We had trouble getting pizza because so many orders were ahead of us. If that is any indication, I would say that they have a hell of a following.

However, the only reason I would want them in the SEC would be to beat them like a drum.

Anonymous said...

Forget any discussion related to traditions, academics and competent athletic programs, the SEC expansion will be 100% about adding TV viewership.
I beleive the state of Texas is proportioned into 65% interest in the Univ. of Texas, and the remaining 35% split between everyone else. if the SEC heads put any thought to expansion TAM would not address the viewership issue. I would expect Slive to make a run at Texas regardless of the Longhorn Network. Football scheduling for an independent is a nightmare. You cannnot payment 8 teams $2.5 mil each to fill out your schedule. if Texas is a no go them Louisville and Missouri would put the SEC in the biggest TV markets available and would make the most sense geographically.

JackSprat Dawg said...

Its crossed my mind that perhaps the eventual goal of the Texas schools is not to join the SEC, or go independent, or stay put, but rather to somehow resurrect a new SWC. Such a conference centered around Texas, TxA&M, OK, OK St, and the other assorted usual suspects may be what all this saber rattling is truly about.

Anonymous said...

Tyler - thanks for posting. First, keep in mind that the expansion is mainly about opening new markets that the conference is not currently serving across the non-national media footprints. It will help generate additional interest in those markets for a CBS/ESPN contract, but in theory those markets are already showing SEC programming. It will strengthen the footprint but not open it.

Second, what expansion really does is strengthen the regional footprints, new media, etc for the conference. Now that 12:00 SEC TV game is going to be shown across Texas, etc. when it really wasn't there before. The regional basketball etc. Sponsors and media sales people love this stuff because it translates into quantifiable #'s that can be projected into $$$.

That is why I think it is foregone conclusion that the SEC will move to at least 14 schools and TAMU will be one of the 14. There are too many top 50 TV markets not currently in the SEC footprint in Texas and TAMU would provide that access.

Your analysis of the targets East of the Mississippi are spot on. From a national perspecitve, UNC would be the top target. They are a "name-brand" in college athletics, give access to top NC tv markets and sell tons of merchandise. They are probably the least likely to leave the ACC due to history.

I think VA Tech is the most likely to leave and it would in theory bring the DC TV market plus another top 50 market in Norfolk. Their proximity to the TN/KY border make them a natural rival for UK & UT.

NCST makes some sense if Va Tech hits a snag.

I do not see a 16 team SEC being a reality unless it is truly a blockbuster package deal that dramatically improves the ability of the SEC to charge for rights fees. For example, if TAMY insisted it would not join without Oklahoma (highly unlikely) or UNC would join but not without NCST.

Also, if Texas moves to independent status I think it is highly unlikely that ND moves into a conference. ND could band with Texas to get a seat at the revised BCS/+1 national championship system.

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