|Oklahoma has the required tradition for the SEC, but might shy away from the recruiting battle. (Getty Images)|
If a few issues can get cleared up (like a desperate Baylor and President Ken Starr threatening to sue), Texas A&M will become the 13th member of the Southeastern Conference. The acceptance by the Aggies will come in the amount of time it takes TAMU President R. Bowen Loftin to say "Yep."
So the long, tedious journey for the Aggies out of the shadow the school they perceive as the bully, aka "By God Texas," will be complete. No one knows quite how it is going to work, but Texas A&M expects to play an SEC football schedule in 2012.
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Texas (LHN) forced A&M out; superconferences next. Read More >>
So now the question quickly turns. If Texas A&M is No. 13, who is going to be 14? And if the Big 12 falls apart and Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott pulls yet another rabbit out of his hat and convinces Texas, Oklahoma, Texas Tech, and Oklahoma State to move west, will the SEC feel compelled to match him and also go to 16?
Here are some candidates and why they would be a fit—or not:
Oklahoma: An absolute fit given its football tradition. Coach Bob Stoops was Steve Spurrier's defensive coordinator at Florida, so he'd be comfortable. But the Sooners don't like the hand-to-hand combat that is recruiting in the SEC, plus President David Boren believes associating his school with the Stanfords and the Cal-Berkeleys of the world will be a part of his legacy.
Texas: A great fit but the Longhorns made it clear last year they wanted no part of the SEC. Why? See Oklahoma.
Texas Tech and Oklahoma State: Only a fit if Texas and OU say yes and it becomes like a package deal in recruiting -- you get the five-star wide receiver if his slower buddy gets a scholarship too. That's not completely fair to Oklahoma State and Texas Tech, because they have good programs. But the fact is they don't get to go if big brother doesn't come first.
Missouri: A kinda fit. Mizzou would certainly expand the SEC footprint to include the St. Louis television market, and Gary Pinkel has done a nice job with the football program, getting it to the verge of a BCS championship game in 2007. But we all know that last year Missouri bought a new prom dress, did its hair and makeup hoping for an invitation from the Big Ten that never came. Do you want to invite a girl who still has a crush on another guy? That other guy (Big Ten) may be looking for some more dance partners if this thing gets really crazy.
Kansas: The SEC would love to have them for the two basketball games a year the Jayhawks would play against Kentucky. But if there is one thing we have learned over the past year is that nobody -- but nobody -- is talking about basketball when these decisions are being made. Kansas and Kansas State have made it clear they are a package deal.
Baylor: Sorry, Bears, but you may want to contemplate your future in the Mountain West. Alumnus Ann Richards was governor of Texas back in 1995 and was able to use her political muscle to squeeze you into the new Big 12. Ken Starr (your president) doesn't have the juice to take care of you this time. Now if you can figure out a way to keep Robert Griffin III permanently eligible, we can talk.
Virginia Tech: Given the way Virginia Tech has dominated football in the ACC -- four championships in seven years as a member -- the Hokies and their excellent fan base would be certainly be fit in the SEC. But Virginia Tech had to work too hard and spend too much political capital just to get into the ACC in 2004. Virginia Tech also knows that it can win championships on a regular basis in the ACC. The SEC has not had a repeat champion since 1997-98 (Tennessee).
Florida State: Another good fit given the commitment to football. And I know for a fact there are people in high places in Tallahassee who are excited about what Jimbo Fisher is doing and want to be a part of the SEC. But for the SEC, No. 14 will be about adding eyeballs to the television screen, and the Florida Gators give the SEC all of the state's major media markets. If the SEC goes to 16, this can be revisited. Bobby Bowden had his chance to join the SEC in 1992 and declined. That has not been forgotten.
|West Virginia features a rabid, color-coordinated fan base that fits perfectly in the SEC. (AP)|
Georgia Tech: The Yellow Jackets were a member of the SEC until 1963 when Bobby Dodd pulled them out. So there is a longing among the gray hairs to start playing Auburn, Tennessee, and Alabama again instead of Wake Forest and N.C. State, and Virginia. But here are some cold economic facts: The SEC already has the Atlanta market locked up with the Georgia Bulldogs. There are almost as many UGA alumni (90,000) living in Atlanta as there are Georgia Tech alumni living in the world (111,000).
Louisville:; A rising young football coach in Charlie Strong and a basketball program run by Rick Pitino. If this was a basketball decision, Kentucky would have the political pull to keep their in-state rival out of the SEC. But this is a football decision. The recruiting wars between Strong and UK coach Joker Phillips are already intense.
West Virginia: Now we're talking. Based on the email I get every time I mention the Mountaineers in a less-than-flattering light, I know they take football seriously. The atmosphere in Morgantown is the closest thing the Big East has to the SEC. But we'll have to talk on a couple of issues:
• It was good that the city fathers made couch burning a felony. We just can't have that kind of behavior in the SEC because if you allow that, the next thing you know, somebody will start poisoning trees.
• But selling beer during games at the stadium? Son, if we extend an invitation, you'll have to knock that off. We are, after all, in the Bible belt. All of our drinking takes place in the parking lot. If you want to drink in the stadium, then do what respectable folks have always done in the SEC -- sneak in a half-pint of Jack Daniels in your date's purse.
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