All the
All the

One Conference expansion possibility.


By Kyle

All the conference expansion talk got you scratching your head?

Each day brings new talk of the potential conference realignment that could shake major college sports down to its very core. Paul wrote an article last night (while I was in the midst of writing this one) that you can read HERE voicing his ideas for potential expansion for the SEC and the effects of the dissolution of the BIG12. I have my own idea of how the SEC can better itself that follows a different line of thinking, so bear with me as I break down what’s happened so far and get to my point.

It started with the Big10 this fall and by the end of the winter the rumors indicated that the Big Ten (with it’s eleven teams) was looking to add as many as five new schools to the conference bringing about a new 16-team league. There are a couple of schools that are consensus no-brainers to add, like Notre Dame, Missouri, Nebraska, and Rutgers. This would open up the Chicago market (with it’s heavy Notre Dame bias) even more than it currently is with Big10 team Northwestern already in the suburbs. Then you add the NYC market that Rutgers would bring, and add the obvious Iowa/Illinois Rival of Missouri and traditional football powerhouse Nebraska and there’s a lot of money to be made. The fifth team is subject to debate, but Pittsburgh seems to be the most popular candidate and you have your 16-team league.

Ohio State
Michigan State
Penn State
Notre Dame

To further complicate things, last Thursday news leaked that the PAC10 was planning on sending formal invitations to Texas, Texas Tech, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and Colorado to join the current ten teams making up the conference. Some recent news has suggested that Baylor would actually replace Colorado in a move to keep the Texas schools together, so there is still plenty of speculation floating around. Assuming that these schools accept the invitation, that brings the Pac10 to a second 16-team league.

Arizona State
Oregon State
Washington State
Texas A&M
Texas Tech
Oklahoma State

So, you may be asking yourself, “What does this have to do with Kentucky?” Well, that’s the question this particular article is here to answer, but we’re not there yet.
So with all the movement to form two “super” conferences, SEC Commissioner Mike Slive has already stated that the SEC will not just sit by idly and he fully plans to keep up with the joneses. So we’re on to the SEC.

The SEC has a couple of options here. Do they attempt to raid the ACC of the four tobacco road schools that all four have a pretty tame football history, but would add some serious firepower to the basketball prestige of the conference? Or does it make more sense to target four football schools like Miami, Florida State, Clemson, and Georgia Tech to try to keep up with the other conferences’ seemingly football-minded moves?
How much of a role will geography play a factor in what goes down? Will North Carolina schools be considered too far north? Maybe a move to secure all of Florida occurs and Miami, Florida State, and USF are packaged together?
There are certainly more questions than answers for the SEC circulating right now. But the main thing to keep in mind is that any move that happens should only benefit Kentucky in the long run.

If the four teams that seem to be the most popular choices are added, the league will see Miami, Florida State, Georgia Tech, and Clemson in the SEC. This is probably the least favorable scenario for Kentucky at first glance because it would add four teams in three recruiting hotbeds that the Cats target. But when you look closer, the SEC would have to be realigned and Kentucky would undoubtedly end up in the North or West division. What that means is that Kentucky would likely play in the weaker of the two divisions while being able to rotate schools like the Florida teams, the South Carolina teams, and the Georgia teams every couple of years. This would leave Kentucky with the Tennessee schools, the Mississippi schools, Arkansas, the Alabama schools, and LSU on their annual slate. That equals a much easier road to wins than the current alignment. Then you add the increased revenue from the football media contracts and it might be easier for the Cats to get some upgraded facilities sooner.

In my opinion (even as a football guy), the best case scenario would be to add the four Tobacco road schools to the conference, bringing in UNC, Duke, Wake Forrest, and NC State. At first, this looks like a bad move from a football standpoint. But look a little closer and you see four teams that are on the move up amongst footballs hierarchy (namely UNC), and it would also open a state full of talented athletes to the conference and the market of one of the country’s fastest growing cities in Charlotte. This would be extremely beneficial to UK in football because it would add a state teeming with talent for Joker to recruit and add four teams that UK should have a solid shot against each year. But the real reason to add these four schools is obviously not related to football.

Despite the occasional run by the Big12, the SEC is inarguably the best football conference top to bottom over the last decade and if it were to stand pat at 12 teams that likely wouldn’t change. The PAC16 would feature Texas, Oklahoma, and USC as it’s premier schools, but the rest of league is full of average to below average talent. The Big16 would have Ohio State, Penn State, and a bunch of other tradition-rich schools that have struggled sporadically over the past few years. The SEC would still have Florida, Alabama, and LSU at the top. Those three current SEC teams have won five of the last seven national championship games, and I see no reason for the conference not to continue its gridiron domination as is.
The real benefit to adding the North Carolina schools would clearly lie on the basketball court. The SEC has had a couple of decent basketball teams each year, but no one is considering the league on the same level as the ACC or Big East. I don’t think I really need to go into detail as to why this move would benefit the basketball program. Bringing in the four basketball-tradition rich schools would add some serious firepower to the conference and make the SEC the premier conference in both sports.

Now, there’s also the aftermath of all these potential moves. The Big East’s only hope of survival would be to bring up two of their schools football teams from FCS status to replace Pitt and Rutgers and maintain an eight-team league. Otherwise, a merger with the remaining ACC teams would be inevitable. Then there’s the remainder of the Big12 (including Kansas, who’s fans are currently having a meltdown). Their best option would be joining a non-BCS league like the Mountain West or Conference USA. The dominoes that could all eventually fall leave the possibilities endless. One thing is for sure though, and that’s that the Kentucky Wildcats and the SEC should be fine regardless of what happens.

Keep following www. for the best in Kentucky basketball and football news, rumors, and opinions. By Kentucky fans for Kentucky fans