Friday, April 23, 2010

The SEC expansion scenario no one is talking about

With the Big Ten potentially expanding to 16 teams, SEC commissioner Mike Slive quickly announced that the SEC would not sit by and lose their position of supremacy. Interpret his stance however you want, but most took it to mean that if the Big Ten expands, the SEC will expand too. If the SEC were to expand by four teams most predicted it would be Texas, Texas A&M, Miami and Florida State. You also saw Oklahoma and Clemson mentioned. Texas is a no brainer. The school's profile makes sense. The geography makes sense and it would expand the SEC's TV footprint. To compliment the Texas addition, you would probably want to add A&M or Oklahoma. However, I don't know if any of the ACC schools floated would bring as much to the table. They all have great football traditions, but neither Florida State, Miami nor Clemson would bring in new TV markets. And while I think all three are fine programs, none bring any unique prestige to the SEC. But I still think the SEC could/would look to the ACC to fill out its expansion, only with two unlikely targets -- Duke and North Carolina.

Why Duke and North Carolina makes the most sense

1. Brings in new TV markets. The North Carolina TV markets are not huge, but where else can the SEC go? As I mentioned earlier, they already have a strong TV footprint in South Carolina and Florida.
2. It adds prestige to the conference.
North Carolina is the flagship school of the state and one of the better public universities in the country. Duke's reputation is well known and would finally give Vanderbilt a fellow private school to commiserate with
3. They wouldn't threaten any football powers.
The SEC doesn't need help on the football front. Adding Texas will already shift some of the power. Duke and North Carolina would not. They might pop up and have nice seasons on occasion, but neither is going to become a perennial power.
4. It would make the SEC the premier basketball conference.
Duke, North Carolina and Kentucky would be a hard triumvirate to top. Throw in the Texas and a few hot middle of the road SEC teams and you would easily have the most talked about hoops season every year.
5. It would kill the ACC.
The remaining ACC schools would probably form some sort of super conference with the Big East leftovers, but there wouldn't be a hoops matchup to carry what has traditionally been a basketball conference.

Would Duke and Carolina leave their comfort zone? They are both so attached to the ACC. Neither school liked giving up power when the ACC expanded. If they were to leave for the SEC, they would see their voices diminished that much more. But money talks. If the SEC came to them with the Godfather offer, they would certainly listen.


Anonymous said...

Even with Kentucky and Florida as bball programs, the SEC is all about football. Basketball is just a hobby between New Years and the Spring game in the SEC. I just don't see Duke or Carolina jumping ship of dominance of ACC and basketball to be a mid and lower tier team in the SEC. Duke would never win a game in football.

Yes when we jumped to the ACC, we went as mid tier conference team to a mid tier conference team. Duke and Carolina dominate and control the ACC and while money is the number one factor in college sports these days (see BC in the ACC), it is not the only factor.

modest34b said...

Duke not only would not win a game they would not score a point. I think sec ain't making a move to keep doormat vandy hsppy.

unc and duke to sec: no way

FSU and Clemson. I could see. They have SeC stadiums and fan base. VTech also for same reasons. I think Sec is after More quality football. It already has national tv coverage and interest Miami has poor fan support and does not seem to fit

Brian said...

It’s never been about expanding into new TV markets for eyeballs with the SEC. The SEC has developed its own sort of cache despite playing in some of the smallest TV markets and more economically depressed parts of the country (Alabama, Mississippi). They already have a national TV contract with ESPN so not sure what they really gain with Duke and UNC.

Plus I don't think Duke and UNC would leave the ACC. They almost blocked ACC expansion twice, there's concerns about academics and joining an inferior basketball conference.

My $0.02 ...

SEC expansion to 14 = Texas, Texas A&M
SEC expansion to 16 = Texas, Texas A&M, Georgia Tech (adding second team in Georgia), Clemson (adding second team in South Carolina).

BCDisco said...

I've been quietly watching the BC to Big 10 rumors, and I've mostly dismissed them for two reasons. One, I think it's a longshot; I just don't see why the Big Ten would want to invite BC. Two, all claims of conference loyalty coming from BC would be completely dismissed for at least the next 15 years, weakening one of our few strong points: integrity.

Having said that, if GDF and BC think that the SEC might go after some ACC schools, then BC absolutely must move on this. Either join the new Big 16 (if given the offer) or join the new Big East/ACC 16 (if no other offer looks better). To hell with conference loyalty at that point. This is about protecting the future of BC athletics.

Erik said...

I still don't understand the appeal of 16 teams. There would be teams you'd play approx once every 6 years. What is the benefit of being in the same conference as someone if the only affiliation is wearing the same patch logo on your uniform? 12 is already too many, except for that its just enough because that is the Conference Title game minimum. More makes no sense.

As far ATL's post, the old mantra in the SEC is "if you ain't cheatin, you ain't tryin". I think Duke & UNC have too much self respect to head to that conference. They already have it made in the shade with the sport they care about with an endless supply of McDonald's All-Americans, national TV games, Nikes, and a proven path to national titles.

To me, even if it made sense for the SEC it wouldn't make sense for the tobacco road schools.

BCDisco said...

Erik, while your posts makes sense, I think you're underestimating the power of the almighty dollar. I'm not saying Duke and NC are greedy. What I'm saying is all BCS schools these days operate in a very competitive environment and so they need to consider every offer made to them in order to protect their employer.

ObserverCollege said...

SERIOUS POST: This is why ATL provides such a valuable service to us. He really thinks "beyond the box" when it comes to issues that concern BC athletics. Whether you agree is another matter, but this post makes you think.

As I've personally "gamed this out", I've suspected that the SEC would match any Big 10(11) move past 12 teams. I have been thinking that if the Big 10(11) expands to 14 or 16, that the SEC would also. I also suspected this would be bad news for the ACC. But I have to confess I had never considered the possibility that UNC and Duke would bolt.

Yet would they? Sure. In a system of 16-team behemoths, all bets are off. I think North Carolina would be a definite invite. As for the 2nd, I wouldn't be surprised if Maryland were to be extended a bid over Duke. This would simply be due to the TV dollars out of the DC and Baltimore markets. That would help in renegotiating the SEC/ESPN package (and with a 16-team conference, I would expect a renegotiation).

YQ said...

ACC should move first: Penn State, West Virginia, Rutgers, & Syracuse (or substitute ND for one of those if they could be persuaded).

Unknown said...

It seems like Missouri should be coming up more in the 16-team discussion. They're not as far north as you think, they share a border with Arkansas, and they'd bring in both the St. Louis and Kansas City markets. Plus give the SEC a toehold in Big 10 country (I know they're Big 12, but they're close to Big 10 schools)

If you add Tx, A&M, Okla and Missouri to the West, move Aub & Bama to the East, then switch out Vandy for West Virginia...that's a seriously tough conference.

Erik said...

Quick draft comment: I love that Clausen hasn't been picked yet. I just looked up the pic of Gunnell going off on him.... still great!

mod34b said...

Erik. I agree on clausen. Good to see him and ND get a little dissing. Golden Tate is not so golden either

CT. Remeber you insisted that Clausen was a top 5 pick. Ha!!Can't wait to hear your spin

Unknown said...

Why is "It Would Kill The ACC" listed as a point under "Why it makes sense"??? You are inferring that Duke/UNC want to "kill the ACC", the conference that helped them both get National Titles the last two years. Moron.

ATL_eagle said...


I am not saying Duke-Carolina, want to kill the ACC. I am saying the SEC would want to kill the ACC.

Harry Collins said...

I'd also like to see the ACC get proactive. If 16 team superconferences are inevitable (which I hate even more than 12 team conferences), then the ACC should make the first move and pillage the Big East, run in and grab Cuse, Pitt, West Virginia and UConn. Have a 15 game round robin basketball schedule (or maybe 15 plus 1 - a home and home with a "natural rival"), and split football into 2 8-team subdivisions (North and South), the winners playing in the championship game.

Here's the North subdivision:

West Virginia

Here's the South:

FL State
NC STate
North Carolina

Each team plays its subdivision opponents in football, plus perhaps 1 from the other subdivision, plus 3 non-conference games.

Call it the Big Atlantic. You would probably get a little upgrade in hoops by adding Pitt, UConn and Cuse. Not so much in football, but not too bad - West Virginia would be a nice addition, UConn is on the upswing, Pitt is always decent and has some good history (Dorsett, Marino, '76 NC), and Cuse is a dormant program which could return to prominence with a platform like this.

As I said, I don't like these superconferences, but I would much rather be the agressor than be left out in the cold, like the BE programs after the last major conference re-alignment.

Chili said...

I understand that as BC guys you might not be that versed in ACC culture, whatever that is, but the premise of Duke and Carolina to the SEC is laughable. Extremely well written proposal, I'm not knocking you on that, but you don't understand what pull the basketball angle and the connection to the ACC as founding members does for the schools. They're still pissed the ACC diluted the basketball pool by adding BC, Miami, and VT. They would never leave the ACC for the middling basketball played in the SEC. They don't need the revenue, and their football teams aren't ready for SEC level gridiron play.

You may as well be proposing that they join the fucking Horizon league. It's just as plausible.

Dan said...

I like Harry's proposal. Best of both worlds. We don't have to leave the ACC and look like money grubbing whoores but also appease the "we shouldn't have left/ should rejoin the BE" crowd.

Also greatly amused by Clausen. Hope he sends a thank you text to Brady Quinn for costing him 1st round money.

What I don't like is the Shinskie cynicism. There was some worrying stuff in there but there were also quite a few statements talking about his improvement from a coaching staff that isn't known for being effusive in it's praise. If we won 8 games and gave USC a run while "on life support" I like our chances with this year's schedule even if we only got upgraded to the ICU.

Afterall, this is a BC FAN SITE and it's the offseason. This is when 95% of teams think they can win it all. We can all be angry, cynical whatever when it's halfway through the season and we join the 95% who then know they will not be winning it all.

BCDisco said...

Also, I never did mention in my first post that if we ever did leave the ACC, I would miss playing Clemson and to a lesser extent, Miami.

Darius said...

I have to admit I'm pleased to see Clausen fall out of the first round. It showed that the NFL *does* value things beyond the raw stats and measurements that scouts and experts love to cling to. Clausen is a bust in the making because however talented he may be, he's a cocky little turd. Football is a team game, and he's not a team player. Professionals will never rally behind his concept of of "me-first" leadership. It's an age-old story. And the NFL execs are evidently starting to learn from that story.

Here's a betting proposition for you: whichever team eventually does invest a pick on him, whoever exhibits that they DO value million-dollar arms over five-cent heads, is on the wrong track. Bet the UNDER for them on the W-L over/under for 2010 and every year he remains on the roster.

blist said...

Observer College - your mockery is sublime when you say you're posting seriously. Very amusing :)

One thing, looking very long term - if superconferences form to get onto basic cable and therefore effectively raise cable prices (along with baseball teams, the NFL network etc), doesn't that then bring in Congress (who seem to move fast on sports issues) to force a la carte pricing? Then that guts the who proposition of 16 team conferences and leads to another realignment back to smaller conferences. Just a thought.

ObserverCollege said...

blist, I really WAS posting seriously. I'm not sure Duke would be that comfortable in the SEC for cultural reasons, whereas I think two land-grant universities like Carolina and Maryland would fit.

Forgive the 3rd-person thing, but the character "ObserverCollege" hates "Eagle in Atlanta" because he wastes time talking about a nonentity like Boston College. But the "inner" OC is all Eagle.

blist said...

Again, with your insistence of being serious, you are sublime, almost Andy Kaufman like, OC, a sort of Steven Wright of the blogosphere.

CT said...

I do think he's a Top 10 talent, Mr. Mod. He may or may not have a Top 10 head, but he's got everything else. Right college coach, system, arm, and accuracy. I really don't care either way, however. I'm a Falcon fan first and foremost and that's all I care about. I'm not his agent, nor am I you. Both thoughts make me happy. I suppose he'll get drafted long before you make your first grammatically-correct post.

Duke and UNC to the SEC? For those of you who had never seen an ACC bball game prior to '05, I can't tell you how absurd that is. Texas might get the first call from the SEC, but with the biggest athletic dept in the country and having to play two or three big games a yr to make the BCS, why trade that in for five or six big games a yr and a bigger shot at the Outback? Texas doesn't need the SEC, even if the conference does effectively own college football. Granted, there is nothing like the Southeast's love for the SEC, and nothing compares to it in the Northeast and adding UT would make ESPN's head explode. But UT would be sacrificing wins for money.

Clemson is a more natural geographic fit, with natural rivalries vs. UGA and USC. FSU, with Bowden now gone, might be game, too, as travel wouldn't be so burdensome. VT would be good b/c they own the D.C. market and travel well and recruit the same athletes. Beamer did say after his last beatdown at LSU that he wasn't going to do that again, however. Stay classy, Frank.

Either way, the ACC is looking at devaluing its football product further and becoming more like the current Big East--a football conference in name only. If radical realignment is coming, we're probably better off in the Big 10, where we can at least pretend that football still matters. Having said that, I hope ND joins the Big 11 and the rest of this goes away for the time being.

mod34b said...

CT. Your recollection on Clausen is not quite right, is it? I'll have to go back and check. Your flailing grammar counter punch certainly is telling

Bravesbill said...

I agree with CT about the expansion. Even if the ACC is aggressive and expands before the SEC, if the SEC comes beckoning for FSU, Clemson, Ga Tech, Miami, or Va Tech, all those schools would most likely bail. Once the ACC gets pillaged, the ACC would basically be in the same predicament it would have been had it not expanded, the only difference being it would be stuck with even more mediocre athletic programs. The top programs in the ACC would still be gone and it would be replacing them with junk for the leftover Big East teams. And I don't see the ACC being able to expand to begin with. Who would they court? WVU? UConn? Rutgers? Syracuse? Pitt? All those teams would be courted by the Big 10. And if you were those programs, what conference would you go to? The Big Ten easily. At least 3 programs will get in. Face it, if the Big 10 and SEC expand to 16 teams each, the ACC will get pillaged and it will be in a world of hurt. Welcome to the ACC USF, Louisville, Cincy, La Tech, Citadel, St. Mary's School of the Blind. Ouch.

Coast said...

The only way Texas joins the SEC is if the school is willing to prostitute its academics for money. Say what you want about the Longhorn football team's graduation rates, but UT values its books too much to enter the SEC. I could only see Texas leaving to join the Big Ten and Pac 10.

Texas A&M is a great school, too, but the culture surrounding the athletic program (academics aside) would be much more in-line with the SEC than UT's.

Eagle in Somerville said...

This is a great post, and ATL makes a great point. If any big conference goes after any ACC team, Duke and UNC are the ones they go after. Killing the ACC makes good business sense, and taking those schools ruin your competition.

Texas not going to the SEC for academics? I don't understand. While Texas has some great programs(If you have 70,000+ undergrads, you have a lot of money),the Big 12 is easily the worst of the major conferences when it comes to academics.

All these posts about UNC and Duke not wanting to leave the ACC because of basketball tradition are just silly. While there is something to be said for associating yourself with other small private schools, that ship sailed when they allowed Virginia Tech into the ACC.

In the end, athletics are viewed by universities as a way to generate money. Since the ACC has not been able to secure their own network or a big TV deal, the writing is on the wall. The superconferences want to squeeze out the competition, and it does not bode well for BC.

I hope for the best but fear the worst. I like the ACC and the small private schools with proud academic traditions, but the more I think about it, the more I agree that this seems almost inevitable...

Coast said...


The issue isn't the academics of the current conference. The Big 12 won't be confused for the Ivy League or the Big Ten anytime soon.

Texas and A&M were looking to leave the SWC for greener pastures, and once Texas legislation kicked in, four of the powerful Texas schools were able to join the Big Eight and form the Big 12. That was a move based on survival. If Texas were to look for a new conference, it would be from a position of power with a goal of improvement (money, prestige). Texas is fine in the Big 12, but they could be more well off in the Big Ten.

The Big 12 as currently constituted is fine, but if (for example) Colorado, Missouri, or Nebraska were to leave for another conference, Texas has the green light for finding a better financial/ academic situation. Schools in the Big Ten make more than schools in the Big 12. Schools in the Big Ten have strong academic departments and are funding magnets.

Texas is looking for a reason to leave, but it will not initiate the move itself. And contrary to popular out-of-state belief, Texas has no reservations about leaving A&M in the dust. They will only bring A&M along if there are hurt feelings in Texas politics (threats of less funding).