Tag:SEC Expansion
Posted on: October 4, 2011 4:08 pm
 

Vandy official: SEC could stay at 13 for "years"

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

It's possible that Missouri will announce this very afternoon that they're leaving the Big 12, rendering these comments from Vanderbilt "vice chancellor of athletics" David Williams to the Tennessean irrelevant before you're done reading this post.

But if not, it's another warning shot that the Tigers may be the only school that could prevent the SEC from entering their 2012 season -- and possibly 2013 and 2014 seasons, too -- with just 13 teams. Assessing Missouri and the need for the SEC to go to 14, Williams had this to say (emphasis added):

The factors to deal with that 14th team are well beyond anything that any one person could think about. There are so many things involved. ... People say, ‘Well, you’ve already got a 14th team (lined up).’ We don’t. I could see pros and cons on just about anything you suggest as another team. This is a process. That’s why I think we may be at 13 for a couple of years.

There are a lot of things that we don’t know or have control over. You asked the question about one university. Well, does that university even want to be part of it? You look into that conference … are they not sitting down, with the exception of Texas A&M, were they not sitting down saying that they’re (addressing) their TV rights for the next six years for the conference? So if that’s the case, you may not get anybody from their conference to go.

Williams declined to mention any candidates other than Missouri specifically. If the Tigers do pledge their future to the Big 12 Tuesday, his comments would certainly suggest that if the door hasn't already been closed on a 14th team for the SEC's 2012 campaign, that would do it. And his comments hint that (hard as it may be to take at face value) the SEC legitimately does not know what course Missouri might take. (As for the official party line that the SEC hasn't actually entered into discussions with Tiger officials about a potential move, that we're not buying ... or else Missouri would have already sealed their spot in the Big 12, most likely.)

Past that, Williams has certainly left plenty of wiggle room for team No. 14 to show up at any point between now and 2013--saying the conference "may be" at 13 for longer than expected falls far short of declaring that he expects or predicts that to be the case. But by waffling on Missouri and issuing the "couple of years" warning shot for any other potential candidates, Williams is certainly suggesting the SEC's timetable for expansion may not be as short as many believe.

And that's what we'll go with, too ... for at least the next 30 to 45 minutes or so.

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Posted on: September 25, 2011 5:09 pm
Edited on: September 25, 2011 5:21 pm
 

It's official: Texas A&M to join SEC July 1, 2012

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

The wait is over: Texas A&M is a member of the SEC.

The conference announced on its website Sunday afternoon that the Aggies will join as official members beginning July 1, 2012, and will compete in all sports for the 2012-2013 academic year.

"The Southeastern Conference Presidents and Chancellors are pleased to welcome Texas A&M University to the SEC family," Florida president Dr. Bernie Machen said in a statement. "The addition of Texas A&M University as the SEC’s 13th member gives our league a prestigious academic institution with a strong athletic tradition and a culture similar to our current institutions."

On behalf of our presidents, chancellors, athletics directors, students and fans, I welcome Texas A&M University to the SEC family," commissioner Mike Slive said.  "Texas A&M is a nationally-prominent institution on and off the field and a great fit for the SEC tradition of excellence—athletically, academically and culturally."

Aggie president R. Bowen Loftin repeated his oft-stated claim that the Aggies' bolt from the Big 12 to the SEC was a "100-year decision" the school "addressed carefully and methodically, and I believe the Southeastern Conference gives the Aggies the best situation of any conference in the country."

With the announcement, the SEC officially puts behind it the legal questions that had dogged A&M since it announced its plan to join the league and the possibility those questions would keep the school out of the league until the 2013 football season. The recent commitment of Oklahoma to keep the Big 12 together likely played a substantial role in Baylor withdrawing its legal objections.

The SEC is expected to play the 2012 season with 13 football teams. A schedule has yet to be announced--but the Aggies now know for certain they'll be one of the teams included.

Posted on: September 20, 2011 2:32 pm
Edited on: September 20, 2011 3:40 pm
 

Report: Mizzou has SEC offer pending B12 breakup

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

If the version of events provided by a booster who has spoken to the Kansas City Star is accurate, Missouri is likely on its way towards becoming the SEC's 14th school.

According to the Star, that booster has spoken directly to a Mizzou official who has told him (or her) that the SEC "has an offer on the table for Missouri to join its league." That offer would be accepted as soon as the breakup of the Big 12 is finally made official--a fate that as Big 12 Board of Directors chairman, Missouri chancellor Brady Deaton has been working to avoid.

After yesterday's vote by the Oklahoma and Texas Boards of regents to allow their presidents to make their schools' final decisions on conference afficilation -- a move widely seen as a precursor to one or both schools jumping ship for the Pac-12, and effectively dissolving the Big 12 -- it seems highly likely that despite Deaton's efforts, that breakup is at hand.

According to the Star report, the SEC approached Missouri in 2010 but was rebuffed as the Tigers pledged their allegiance to the Big 12 and the Big Ten passed on issuing Mizzou an invitation.

However, SEC associate commissioner Charles Bloom stated Tuesday that no invitation -- official or otherwise -- has been issued to Missouri or any other school, this year or last. "The SEC has not extended an invitation to any school beyond Texas A&M since it extended invitations to Arkansas and South Carolina," Bloom said.

Of course, we're not sure if we'd take that at face value; the legal snafus already surrounding A&M's attempted departure show how carefully the SEC will tread whenever legal interference in the Big 12's contracts might be an issue.

If admitted to the SEC, Missouri would potentially force a realignment of the SEC's two divisions, with eight "West" teams and only six "East" teams. The most popular realignment scenario involves shifting Auburn to the East, a move Auburn president Jay Gogue has already said he would not oppose.
Posted on: September 20, 2011 12:27 pm
 

Sources: West Virginia denied by ACC, SEC

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

It was just hours ago that -- despite reports to the contrary -- West Virginia still had hope of abandoning their sinking Big East ship for a lifeboat on its way to the ACC or SEC. But it now looks like those hopes have been extinguished.

Citing "multiple sources" within the Big East, CBSSports.com senior writer Brett McMurphy has reported that WVU officials have told other members of the conference that both the ACC and SEC have "rejected" the Mountaineers' request to join their respective leagues.

Reports surfaced Sunday that West Virginia had "submitted paperwork" to the SEC in the wake of Pitt's and Syracuse's impending defection to the ACC. Though that official application has not yet been confirmed, no one doubts that the Mountaineers have been exploring their options--and judging by WVU's public statement that conspicuously failed to mention any kind of support for the Big East, were no doubt hoping those options included an invitation to one of the two expanding BCS leagues.

That the SEC would seem to be in need of an Eastern-oriented team to balance its conference opposite the Western addition of Texas A&M appeared to make them the more likely of the two to grant WVU admittance. But with both that door and the ACC's now apparently closed, WVU will have to look elsewhere. Unfortunately for them, the Charleston Gazette has reported that the "other realistic scenario" for WVU (besides the SEC) was to "remain in the reconfigured Big East."

If that league can pull off a successful merger with the leftover members of the Big 12 in the wake of that league's seemingly-inevitable dissolution, the Mountaineers may land on their feet. If not, the news reported by McMurphy today may be news that stings the Morgantown faithful for years to come.

Posted on: September 12, 2011 6:23 pm
Edited on: September 13, 2011 6:55 pm
 

Slive: No 'immediate plans' to add 14th member

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

The SEC may eventually add a 14th team to go with lucky No. 13 Texas A&M, who Mike Slive confirmed Monday has had its application accepted by the league--though thanks to the various legal entanglements thrown in the Aggies' way, is apparently not a full member yet.

But as for team No. 14, it sounds as if Slive is fully prepared to wait at least a year to find it, if not longer. Slive also said in his statement that the league has no "immediate plans for a 14th member. We aren’t thinking in terms of numbers. We think about the strength of the SEC and the attractiveness of Texas A&M as an institution."

To drive that point home, Slive also confirmed the SEC has "started to look at schedules for 2012-13 involving thirteen teams."

But that little factoid also helps drive a second point home: while A&M isn't officially within the league's ranks yet, they might as well be. "We remain optimistic that Texas A&M will be a member of the SEC," Slive said, commissioner-speak for "Trust me, it's happening, don't worry."

Of course, that's been the expectation ever since the SEC confirmed that its presidents had voted to bring the Aggies into the fold the moment they were legally free to do so. But the expectation has also been that the league -- which Slive famously said could expand to 16 within a matter of minutes -- wouldn't bother playing even one season with unbalanced divisions and an unusual odd-numbered membership.

Given that Slive already feels comfortable enough to tell us the SEC's preliminary 2012-2013 schedules will have just 13 teams included, though, the smart money should now overwhelmingly be on A&M coming aboard in the very near future ... and anyone else in 2013 at the earliest.


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Posted on: September 9, 2011 11:50 am
 

Auburn president: move to SEC East would be OK

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

With Texas A&M still intent on making the jump to the SEC and the SEC still intent on catching A&M when they do, not even the threat of legal action from half the Big 12 has tamped down the rampant speculation about what might be next step in the SEC's expansion plans.

Much of that speculation has centered on the possibility of Mike Slive adding a second West team along with the Aggies, and Auburn -- the easternmost current West team and a program with more traditional rivalries in the East than West anyway -- shifting to the SEC East. That speculation has become widespread enough that Auburn president Jay Gogue was asked about the possibility Thursday, and told the Birmingham News he'd readily sign off on such a move.

"If that's what it took, if you ever went to 14 [teams] and needed to make it work, that wouldn't be something I would be upset about," Gogue said. "I don't see any real difference. We already play Georgia, a longtime rival."

Gogue added that the move would reestablish his Tigers' annual series against Florida and Tennessee, while the Iron Bowl would be preserved (of course) as the two teams' designated cross-divisional game.

At the same time, Gogue said that he didn't see such a move as necessarily directly around the corner:
"I don't think there'd be any real push to get to 14, at least there wouldn't be from my perspective," Gogue said. "We could really easily say, 'Texas A&M, we want you to meet all the schools in the Southeast, so this year you'll play in the West, next year you play in the East.' If a 14th came around and everybody was all excited, that would be fine."
Gogue's hypothetical plan would seem to put off SEC team No. 14 until 2014--at least one year longer than most observers would expect, and closer to two. But given the hurdles the SEC is encountering just in adding A&M and that the Aggies are already contemplating independence for a year as the legal wrangling is resolved, it's possible he's closer to the truth than most would believe.

For more on SEC expansion, check out Tony Barnhart's rundown of potential 14th members and video of former league commissioner Roy Kramer discussing the issue on the Tim Brando Show.

Posted on: September 7, 2011 4:42 pm
 

Arkansas AD Long: Big 12 expressed interest

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Among the dozens (hundreds?) of rumors flying around during the last few weeks of expansion fever was that the Big 12 was trying to lure Arkansas away from the SEC, promising them the renewal of their traditional rivalries with Texas and other old Southwest Conference foes.

Of course, since the very concept of the Hogs abandoning the fabulously wealthy and highly stable SEC for the Big 12's offers of less money and more uncertainty is laughable, those rumors didn't get too far. So maybe it comes as something of a surprise that according to Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long, the Big 12 did in fact reach out to gauge the Razorbacks' interest.

Naturally, Long said the "conversation" between his institution and the Big 12 "didn't go far":
“I think that our program is such that there are a number of conferences that would love to add us as a member,” Long said. “But we’re strongly committed to the SEC. I’d be surprised if we weren’t reached out to by other conferences about joining them. That happened. It didn’t surprise me. But, again, we’re committed to the SEC. It’s the strongest conference in the country and is only going to get stronger.”
On the one hand, we can't fault the Big 12 just for asking if Arkansas might have had some measure of interest. But on the other, the last few days have made it clear that the Big 12 has much more on its plate than trying to get the old SWC band back together ... and that maybe keeping teams like Oklahoma from potentially bolting to the Pac-12 should have been a little higher up the priority list.

Posted on: September 7, 2011 2:44 pm
Edited on: September 7, 2011 2:51 pm
 

SEC expansion: Who's No. 14?

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Baylor's
last-ditch legal effort to save the Big 12 is cute and all, but let's be realistic: Texas A&M to the SEC is something that A&M wants, the SEC wants, and even the Big 12 seems to want in an effort to put the Aggies behind them. Baylor, being Baylor, is not going to be able to hold back a tide that strong for very long. (For a visual representation of the effectiveness of the Bears' efforts, click here.*)

Which means, yes, A&M is going to become SEC school No. 13 and yes, before long the SEC is going to add school No. 14. No. 14 may not be able to join the Aggies in their new digs as soon as 2012 (it's possible -- arguably even likely at this late stage -- the SEC goes one season with an unbalanced divisional setup), but there's no way Mike Slive and Co. will stay at 13 one day longer than they have to.

So who's got next in the SEC expansion race? Breaking down the candidates in no particular order (and reminding you that a "gentleman's agreement" is in place that will prevent any expansion into states where the SEC already has a school):

MISSOURI

Pros: Excellent academics is a major plus for SEC presidents. Ties to both St. Louis and Kansas City television markets. Could be a candidate for Big Ten expansion as well. Well-supported basketball program.

Cons: Despite recent successes, not a traditionally nationally-relevent football program. Zero competitive history with any current SEC member and not even much with A&M. Little to gain in SEC recruiting by expanding to Missouri. Debatable how much impact in those major markets Mizzou actually has. Trickier to add team to West than East; would either require ignoring geography or moving current West team (Auburn?**) to the East.

WEST VIRGINIA

Pros:
Rabidly supported, traditionally strong football program with plenty of success vs. SEC. Hoops program would give SEC a boost, too. Adding school for East division would bring geographic balance opposite A&M.

Cons: Not connected to any major market and expanding into West Virginia does nothing for SEC recruiting. Presidents sensitive to SEC's reputation may not want a university not considered a strong academic school.

N.C. STATE

Pros:
Access to Raleigh TV market and fertile North Carolina recruiting grounds. More geographically accessible than other candidates. "Sleeper" football program enjoys high level of financial/fan support. Would join the East.

Cons: Despite that support, school has rarely fielded championship-level teams and won't move national needle. Academics aren't a minus, but may not be a Mizzou-style plus, either.

VIRGINIA TECH

Pros:
Most powerful, recognizable football program among potential/likely candidates; would hypthetically compete for East championships from moment of arrival. Sizable (if not national) following in Virginia and along Eastern seaboard. Could offer potential inroads in Virginia recruiting. Would join the East.

Cons: Swears up and down school is loyal to ACC. No real history with any SEC school.

OKLAHOMA

Pros:
Just hear out the scenario here: with the Sooners poised to force Texas's hand by jumping to the Pac-12 -- taking Oklahoma State with them and destroying the Big 12 in the process -- Mike Slive makes a preemptive strike against the potential Longhorn/Sooner Pac-16 by inviting the Sooners, Cowboys, and a third Big 12 castoff (Mizzou?) to form a 16-team SEC. Auburn and Alabama both move East and leaving the new SEC West looking like this: Ole Miss, Mississippi State, LSU, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M, Missouri. The blockbuster move secures the SEC a gigantic new TV rights deal, keeps the Sooners and Aggies out from under the Longhorns' thumb, and even approaches competitive divisional balance.

Cons: This is exceedingly unlikely.

But if Texas really is planning to join the Sooners in the Pac-12, that may be Slive's best option. With all due respect to the other four teams mentioned here, not one is a slam-dunk choice to justify its addition as a 14th team, much less a 15th or 16th if Larry Scott's new league redefines the college landscape. When all is said and done, the guess here is that either Missouri (or possibly N.C. State) gets the invite ... and then the SEC stops to catch its breath to figure out if 16 is a luxury or a necessity.

*Via CBSSports.com's own Will Brinson.

**The Tigers are the easternmost West team and most of their traditional rivalries -- Georgia, Tennessee, Florida -- are in the East. The issue would be what to do with the Iron Bowl with Auburn and Alabama in separate divisions; would the league risk having the Tigers and Tide play each other on consecutive weeks?




 
 
 
 
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