Tuesday, August 02, 2011

SEC Expansion (Again)

Should Missouri join the SEC? Some folks think it would be a good fit. Others don't.

Why is this even a topic of discussion? Because last year's conference realignment talk featured a few good moves, a lot of bad ideas, and one line of thinking that refuses to die: "Texas A&M should be in the SEC."

As one of the folks who thinks Texas A&M would be a good fit, let me start off with this: the SEC does not need to expand right now. The brand is strong, the sports are strong, and the money is strong. Any moves made should be decidedly win-win moves, or they aren't worth it, from a conference standpoint. Unless the additions verifiably increase the conference's worth, they are not worth making.

I can see what TAMU brings to the table. I can also guess that, if they are invited, they will not refuse the SEC a second time. And in the land of narratives and memes the TAMU to the SEC is a strong one.

Missouri is only present in the discussion because of the question "what school would the SEC take to balance the numbers, if TAMU gets an invite?" First of all, I don't think that's a good enough reason.

While I don't think Mizzou would be a detriment to the SEC, I don't see them bringing a whole lot to the table. I don't think they fit the win-win mold that the SEC needs to be looking for when considering targets for expansion. Because of this, Mizzou becomes part of a growing list of schools that would love an SEC invite, but probably won't get one because there just isn't enough brought to the table to make it worthwhile, or there is already an SEC school that is a rival of the invitee who isn't ready to deal with that rival in-conference.

That list includes, but is not limited to:

Georgia Tech - a school that would bring absolutely nothing to the table for the SEC.
Tulane - see Georgia Tech
Clemson - a good cultural fit in a terrible television market.
Florida State - see Clemson.
Virginia Tech - see Clemson.
West Virginia - a less than appropriate cultural fit, less potential, and a less valuable television market than Clemson.
Oklahoma - more tied to the success of University of Texas sports than Texas A&M
Texas - will never join the SEC, and might destroy the conference from the inside if they do
Louisville - interesting opportunity, but a risky bet
North Carolina - DO WANT, but Kentucky basketball is not going to let the Tar Heels into their division

Missouri is different enough from most of those to understand why the idea might grow legs. It doesn't own any TV market, but is close to two big ones. It isn't a cultural fit, but isn't a cultural clash. Their athletic programs aren't big brand names, but they've got a lot of potential in several sports.



Dante said...

While I don't like it, bringing in A&M makes sense. Bringing in Missouri does not. The problem is that there's just not a second team right now to bring in with A&M.

I like Oklahoma but they're too big to abandon their current position for the SEC. Oklahoma has roughly half of the Big 12 titles. Giving up the prestige of a BCS Bowl every other year just isn't worth the bump in regular-season pay.

The rest of that list is just completely unappealing to me except for UNC whose football program doesn't have the pull to dictate a change of conference.

jeffrey said...

I tend to view these things from a purely aesthetic rather than business perspective. Which means, first and foremost, I think there should be no expansion at all.

(And maybe we should just drop the results of the most recent expansion while we're at it. All the conference would lose there would be Steve Spurrier and that stupid golden boot thing the winner of the manufactured LSU-Arkansas "rivalry" is supposed to care about.)

Also I think if you're gonna break up the Big 12 then you might as well throw the old SWC back together and give them an automatic Cotton Bowl bid.. Hey remember when there was this game called the Cotton Bowl that people cared about? .. alright alright I just hate the way college football keeps changing for the worse and want to see people start running the goddamned wishbone again.

Anyway if we have to consider this at all then, yes, at least A&M has a history of animosity with LSU that makes for an interesting conference game. But Missouri needs to stay the hell away.

Ga Tech, Clemson, North Carolina are all too deeply rooted in their own conference which I also don't want to see broken up.

Except maybe Florida State isn't too too cozy over there.

Tulane, as always, can go fuck themselves.

Cousin Pat from Georgia said...

They've almost reversed positions over on Dawg Sports to think Mizzou is a good idea.

I still think it isn't, if taken on its own merits. The most interesting thing about the whole situation is how taken for granted it now is that TAMU + SEC = good fit. The hang up is on the "second" invite.

Some folks in the Georgia Tech part of the world spent last summer wondering where their Big 10 invite was. Seriously, they left the SEC to be the "Notre Dame of the South" and have now started trying to figure out a way to get out from under the boot of the Tobacco Road Mafia. They would abandon the ACC in a second if any conference offered them what they thought was a better deal.

North Carolina is heavily invested in ACC basketball. Their football program has potential, and they deliver TV markets. But they would have no problem saying "no" to SEC money (they make their own).

Clemson. If they were truly an SEC school in the ACC, you'd think they'd win more football games. If the SEC expands unilaterally, and If they need a balance for TAMU, this is who probably gets the invite. This is also who probably says "yes" the quickest. They may not add televisions, but they have a history with SEC schools. They also have the most to gain by joining the SEC.

One school I forgot to mention which might fit all the criteria necessary is NC State. They play second fiddle to UNC and could be willing to create a niche for themselves in another conference. They deliver television sets in North Carolina. They have potential value in several sports. They would balance the East/West thing. Most importantly, they do not share natural rivalries with SEC schools that would directly compete for talent.

That last is important. One reason TAMU is considered a win-win is because that consolidates an SEC recruiting beachhead in Texas. An invite to NC State would do the same thing for North Carolina.

Dante said...

"Hey remember when there was this game called the Cotton Bowl that people cared about?"

Remember it? I remember when the Cotton Bowl was actually played at the Cotton Bowl. I saw my first college football game there. My team at the time SMU just got their clocks cleaned by Bama so I sure didn't want Texas to show up SMU by beating an SEC team. So I put on my red shirt (an SMU fan will have at least a red and a blue shirt) and became a Georgia fan for the first time in my life. I wasn't disappointed. About a decade later I went to school at Georgia.

I don't think expansion is a must, but I think we'll soon see the end of SEC dominance in college football. I'd rather see us expand now in a moment of strength than expand later in a moment of weakness.

Cousin Pat from Georgia said...

I don't think expansion is a must, but I think we'll soon see the end of SEC dominance in college football. I'd rather see us expand now in a moment of strength than expand later in a moment of weakness.

I think the SEC has some time to make this decision, probably 2 - 4 years (to take affect 4 - 6 years down the road).

This comes down right now to TV money, and the renegotiation power an SEC expansion into Texas acheives. But let's face it, now that the Pac-12 and the B1G have caught up on the television revenues issue, there are only so many better deals to be had before you start seeing a diminishing return on investment.