Take a good look at the above map and realize that we are prob..."/> Take a good look at the above map and realize that we are prob..."/>

Kentucky would benefit from the SEC expanding smartly, not reactionary to the death of the Big 12 Conference


by Paul Jordan
Take a good look at the above map and realize that we are probably witnessing the beginning of the end of the Big 12 Conference. Formed in 1996, the conference was to be the pinnacle of the NCAA’s “super conferences”, but in all reality, poor planning and just bad geographic luck doomed the conference.

Take a look at the map above again. No East Coast TV Markets. No West Coast TV markets. And while there are some talented teams with championship caliber involved, the conference as a whole is a “who cares” conference with a bunch of teams in mostly what Bill Maher likes to call the “flyover states”.

And now this week, a couple of member schools are poised to make a break in what ultimately will be the death of the Big 12 Conference. According to reports, the Big 10 Conference is aggressively pursuing expansion and this has caused hearts across the Mid West to flutter. Apparently, Nebraska and Missouri’s are fluttering the most as they would have a lot to gain by joining the “New and Improved Big 10” and making it an “Slightly above average Big 13″. Other rumors have Notre Dame joining up and making it still a Slightly above average but we have Notre Dame 14”. And yes, that should be their official name.

It seems to be a pretty good move for Nebraska and Missouri to join forces with the Big 10. They would both earn an addition $12 million or so annually in revenue, plus get to upgrade their football schedule (remember, they are stuck in the NOT Texas and Oklahoma division of the Big 12) and still be able to schedule their old Big 12 North foes as out of conference games. It looks like “win win” for Nebraska and Missouri.

Now keep in mind that the PAC-10 is also considering expansion for the first time in about 30 years and is rumored to be looking at adding Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and Colorado. Geographically the PAC-16 would be a bit clunky but these advantages far outweigh those semantics. This scenario is the worst case one for the SEC as it would effectively challenge the SEC’s claim as the best football conference and would in effect, open up Texas for recruiting for more of the old PAC-10 schools.

Now I know that the SEC recently announced that expansion was not a high priority for the league. If Missouri and Nebraska doe secede from the Big 12, the SEC needs to make expansion an utmost priority and at stake needs to be the remnants of the Big 12.

The most logical choice would be for the SEC to go after Texas and Texas A&M. This would expand on the natural geographic expansion of the SEC and open up Texas for the SEC in recruiting. Oklahoma would be a nice addition to the SEC, but it may be a geographic stretch. In addition, from what I have read, Texas and Texas A&M would be a package deal. Adding Texas would almost assure a SEC participant in the NCAA BCS championship almost every single season.

And it is not that far fetched. Former SEC commissioner Mike Schiller dreamed of adding Texas and Florida State to the SEC mix in the late 1980’s. That did not take place and the SEC added Arkansas and South Carolina. Nice additions, but it hardly made the SEC a super conference. Texas can and would also add a top 10 team to the SEC in basketball as well.

Now there is lots of other speculation about expansion. It is all the rage. Some pundits have the SEC raiding the ACC as well and I think that adding Florida State would be a no brainer. Now with the new SEC at 15 teams, there is lots of disagreement on who else joins the party.

Miami would be nice, but a third Florida school does not do much to expand the conference geographically. Some say Georgia Tech. Georgia Tech would add Atlanta but would still play second fiddle to the Bulldogs. Plus Georgia Tech quit the SEC at one time. Clemson would be a very nice addition and would definitely open South Carolina up for recruiting as well as add a fierce rivalry and I would have no complaints about Clemson joining forces.

But if the SEC is looking at expanding their geographic footprint, Virginia Tech would be a fantastic addition. It adds another potential Top 10 football program to the mix and would also add a team that is perennially on the verge of being a basketball force. Another geographic move would be to add West Virginia from the Big East, but in the end, I like the Hokies a bit more. Here then is a look at my dream SEC Conference:

Florida State
South Carolina
Virginia Tech/Clemson/West Virginia






Mississippi State



Texas A&M

Will this happen? I doubt it. I think all this talk ends if Nebraska and Missouri stay in the Big 12. If they do bolt, the SEC owes it to themselves to make the expansion it’s number one priority. If the SEC stands by and lets the PAC-10 take who they want, they would have to scramble to expand to keep up and the options are not that good. I’d rather plan aggressively and end up with the above SEC, than have to pick up teams that lose out in all the expansion or draft teams that are not SEC caliber.

You have a choice of Texas, Texas A&M, Florida State and Virginia Tech or you can settle from the expansion fallout and get teams like Louisville, Memphis and Georgia Tech. Not bashing on those three schools, and they would make the SEC stronger. Just not as good as Texas would make it.
And isn’t that the point of expanding? To better yourself rather than expand because the competitive balance forces you to? I honestly hope that all the conferences stay the same in the future, but if the two Big 12 force the SEC’s hand on expansion, I would rather they had a plan.

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