Could the SEC eventually add UNC & Duke?


Matt Hayes over at Sporting News put out an interesting scenario a little over a week ago regarding the ever-evolving conference realignment saga. A scenario that could ultimately land UNC & Duke in the SEC.

The near-term catalyst is indeed expected to be the battle between Maryland & ACC over the possible $50 million exit fee. The lawsuits have been filed, and the ramifications could end up pushing us toward the conference realignment end game. From Hayes’ report:

“We’d be absolutely foolish to not watch Maryland,” one FSU official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told Sporting News. “If or when they get out of (the $50 million buyout), everything changes. It’s almost like free agency.”

Once the lawsuits are settled, if the ACC teams believe they can get out of the conference without getting crushed by a $50 million exit fee, we’re likely to see a sprint to the end game.

The Big 12 needs more teams – they current sit at 10 – and most figure Clemson and Florida State are on their radar. Getting to 12 teams will allow the conference to get back to a conference championship game.

If that happens, the two crown jewels of the ACC become available. Duke and North Carolina, which an ACC source said have been chased by the SEC for “the last three years,” will choose between the Big Ten and the SEC.

While I’ve been a non-stop proponent of the SEC adding only power football programs or nobody, the package deal of UNC and Duke is an exception. Such a move would do a number of things for the SEC. First, it gives you the North Carolina television markets. Second, it turns the SEC into the best basketball conference with three elite basketball programs in Kentucky, UNC and Duke. Basketball isn’t nearly as important financially as football, but the upcoming SEC Network would all of a sudden have a lot more eyeballs during basketball season.

The North Carolina pair are big brand athletic programs in a different way than Alabama and Florida are. These schools indeed strengthen a conference.

Hayes quotes an ACC source that the SEC has been after this pair for three years. It’s not surprising, because like we’ve said before, if you don’t want to add schools from current SEC states, where do you turn? NC State? Ugh.

It’s difficult to say when more moves will occur. First, the ACC exit fee battle has to be settled. Second, the Big 12 would likely need to pick off Florida State and Clemson. Then, out of their own interest, I could see Duke and UNC sticking together and moving to another conference as a package. Maintaining the rivalry between the programs will be paramount. But, there’s no reason that the rivalry needs to be an ACC rivalry.

Bottom line? There’s still plenty of action left ahead. My guess is that we’ll have very close to 4 super-conferences by the time the 2014 football playoff arrives.

Photo Credit: Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports



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  • Hell yeah! Way to water down the conference! Heres to Slive ruining the SEC in the name of money.

  • Hello no. Duke and UNC are crap football schools. Florida State and Clemson should be the only acceptable ACC schools. Plus, I’m tired of these conference re-alignments. They break traditions and geographically they don’t make any sense either.

  • I’d be more inclined to have Virginia Tech and NCState join, but hey-the Tarheels and Blue Devils are more than welcome too.

    That’s it. LET’S ADD ALL FOUR. Oh wait, we can’t because we don’t add more than one school from one state anymore.

    • I am from NC…and are they completely crazy? UNC and DUKE do not even begin to come close to SEC football. UNC & DUKE would be CRUSHED by my Tide. That beign said, UNC and DUKE both have excellent basketball programs… It seems like the SEC is already so big. I guess I just don’t particularly like the idea.

  • If the SEC adds teams it needs to be FSU and Clemson

  • I don’t care for the conference realignment, there is no playoff needed. If FSU and Clemson were invited to the SEC they would be a great addition to the sec, but no more. On another hand, if you do not have a conference championship, no invite to the BCS.

  • I know this is a football blog but this is actually a great idea. Of course I would like to see Clemson and FSU in our conference before we get Duke and UNC. However, Florida and USC are being cry babies about having in letting in state rivals in the conference, which is completely stupid because the state of Alabama is about to add its 4th crystal trophy in 4 years to its collection and last time I checked Alabama and Auburn have to recruit against their in state rival while in the same conference. GASP!
    Anyway back to basketball, this would be awesome for us. Having Duke, UNC, and UK in the same conference would give us the opportunity to not only win the football national championship every year but also the basketball NC every year. If we can’t let FSU and Clemson in I say we let Duke and UNC, that’s simply our best options. Va. Tech and NC State suck. Period. Don’t even kid yourself.

    • Just as many Georgia fans don’t want Georgia Tech in for the same reasons and Georgia Tech is a charter member of the conference. So don’t blame this all on Carolina and Florida. Hell, why don’t we let Southern Miss in? It is obvious anyways that the sole purpose of expansion is adding T.V. markets so adding Clemson or FSU serves no purpose in that aspect to the conference. So, it would almost make perfect sense to add a NC school, preferably NC State, and a Virginia school, preferably VA Tech. Speaking of Duke and UNC, Have you seen their student sections during basketball games? Are you sure you want those nerds in our conference?

      • You’re partly right about Georgia fans. I don’t want Tech in the SEC, but it’s more out of spite than anything else. I don’t feel threatened by them in terms of recruiting, but I want them to have to bask in their mediocrity. An athletic program like that doesn’t deserve the SEC experience. That being said, I understand entirely where USC and Florida are coming from. USC especially doesn’t stand to gain anything by letting in Clemson. South Carolina already has a much lower concentration of football talent than Georgia, Alabama, and Florida, and Clemson already out-recruits them most years (albeit, while underdeveloping that that talent).

    • >However, Florida and USC are being cry babies about having in letting in state rivals in the conference<
      "crybabies"??? you have no idea what you are talking about… you have no idea about the bad blood between Carolina, clempsin and the BS that is the "tobacco road" schools that are the a she she… and what has caused it…
      Believe me, You DO NOT want ANYTHING to do with ANY of "those" schools, other than Virginia Tech… They are the ONLY school that they and their fans, come anywhere near fitting the dedication and fan bases associated with the "SEC brand"…
      If you want to see the SEC devalued and cheapened with preppy, false academic arrogance and crap football… go ahead, invite away… but don't say that I didn't try to warn you…
      Besides what us "crybabies" say… if expanding media markets is the goal… FSU & clempsin bring nothing to that table… just as GT doesn't either..

  • I think the SEC should look into the following schools: UNC, VA Tech, UVA, Florida State, and Clemson.

    • I agree, I understand how people may not believe that Duke would be a good football fit. However it wasnt that long ago that UNC almost beat LSU in the Chick Fil A kickoff in Atlanta. If UNC was added to the SEC they would put a virtual lock on all NC in state talent.
      UNC and Virgina Tech are the best options. They would expand us into new markets and historically have programs that could be built to compete in the confrence after recruting with the SEC logo for a few years.

      • I agree with you on UNC, but I think their ACC ties run a little too deep. I don’t see them leaving unless the ACC just absolutely fell apart, because I think they will ultimately look out for their basketball program first. The ACC is as weak as ever in football, but with programs like Syracuse, Louisville, Pitt, and Notre Dame coming in to supplement an already basketball-rich conference, I don’t see them leaving. FSU and Clemson don’t seem to be as closely bound to the conference, and already have a much more “SEC” athletics mentality (football comes first). I’ve got nothing against UNC, but I think that FSU and Clemson are more practical, and really just a better fit. Honestly though, I hope we don’t expand unless we absolutely have to. We may not be generating as much TV market revenue as the Big 10, but we are more competitive all-around than any other conference and our brand is positioned to grow in coming years with or without any new additions.

    • I don’t like that the SEC is looking to the ACC. Overall I think their style of football is inferior. It sounds elitist but the Rivals Week games showed how inflated their rankings were. Adding instate rivals also hurts recruitment. Aside from FSU and Clempson, not a single team there would add anything football-wise. We do not need anymore Mizzou’s. We need Texas A&M’s.

  • Terrible Idea! Please do not do this!

  • In another article it was said that the SEC shouldn’t add bottom feeder programs. The SEC needs to strengthen itself by adding strong schools that only increase the overall quality of the conference. Duke and UNC do not do this. They add academics and basketball but those are not the moneymakers, football is.

    Adding Mizzou last year tossed another weak football team into an already lagging division. The SEC East was trailing behind their West counterparts for a long time. Mizzou brought nothing to the table and this year proved they aren’t cut out for it.

    So which teams would be a better fit? Clemson and Florida State have been mentioned in another article but in Rivals Week it was shown how they’re just not in the same caliber of football as South Carolina and Florida are currently at. ECU and NC State are an even worse suggestion. I’d much rather the SEC just ignore the ACC all together. I’ve been a proponent of adding West Virginia for the longest time. They may have collapsed this year but they have potential to do great things. They even stomped Clempson in the Orange Bowl like an SEC team would. The second team is a toss up, maybe Texas (get that A&M rivalry back) or Oklahoma/Okie State.

    All I’m saying is, there’s more college football teams out there than those in the ACC. South Carolina left the ACC because of its North Carolina dominance. I don’t want to see a return to that.

    • Uh… Florida barely beat FSU, FSU actually held a lead into the 4th quarter until costly turnovers handed the Gators the game…

      I don’t hear your comments about the Gators almost being handled by Louisiana-Lafayette though…

      • You mean the game where they scored 24 points in 9 minutes? Football is 4 quarters for a reason. Winning the game in the first quarter, second, third, or fourth is still a win. Especially when you do it by over 10 points.

        That Lafayette game came down to penalties. Florida lost almost 80 yards over 10 flags, two of which ended in Lafayette getting the touchdown.

        • How do you downplay the 5 turnovers FSU had that created most of Florida’s points and a lead into the 4th quarter, but blame penalties for Florida’s near loss to UL-Lafayette..

          and if Florida is so much more superior to FSU, explain 2010 and 2011, and the nearly identical .500 record between the two (FSU is 19-18-1 against UF since 1977. or 12-12-1 since 1990.)

          Personally, I think you’re full of it.

        • Florida was not a good team in 2010, that was one of their worst years. 2011 wasn’t spectacular either. What matters is this year and the future.

        • If you made sense as well as you made excuses, you’d have a good argument.

          What about all the years in the 1990’s where the Gators were competing for National Championships ?

    • The east is lagging!? Both divisions have 3 in the top 10…

      • For the past couple of years it wasn’t good for the East. South Carolina had the East two years ago, a time when Florida was at its worst and Georgia wasn’t any better. Last year wasn’t exactly outstanding for any of the three. This year they’re some of the strongest in the nation. Note when I said Mizzou I was talking about when they joined, last year.

      • Agreed, I hate when people say the East is lagging. Even with top-tier programs, college football is pretty cyclical. If you don’t believe that, look at the first decade of the SEC Championship Game, or Alabama in the early 2000s. People have very short memories. East is on the upswing.

    • No Texas! Besides, in the early 90s A&M and texas both could have gone to the SEC before Arky and SC and texas nixed the idea. They claim academics because of their elitist attitude. They just don’t want the competition.

  • I don’t think the issue is that Duke and Carolina aren’t good at football – anyone can get good for a period of time or with proper resources – rather, it’s that they don’t prioritize football. Football will always be at best second fiddle for them. The SEC already has that school – Kentucky – and while those matchups could be epic on the basketball side, again, it’s basketball.

    I’d rather see NC State and Virginia Tech. Two new states, schools that prioritize football, and the SEC would finally have all of the states that seceded from the Union.

    • But the SEC already has two states that didn’t, so what does that matter?

      • Yes, but those two were border states with considerate confederate interests. I’m not saying it’s necessary – the SEC is obviously not the CSA – but with so many equating “the south” with one or the other, it’s simply a notable overlap.

    • UNC and Duke wouldn’t separate, and NC State is terrible.

      The SEC may be looking to “increase the footprint” but with the day and age of the “super conference” the SEC should be looking to add schools that will increase the product, not just the media market.

      Florida State, Clemson, GA Tech, and Oklahoma should be on the radar.

  • How about this for a different perspective: There’s all this talk about gaining new TV markets, but what we tend to forget is that the SEC is already, hands down, the best football conference in the nation. We talk about adding more power football teams. Remember when adding more power football teams (Miami, BC when they were doing well) was supposed to make the ACC a power conference? All they did was beat up on each other and no one rose to the top.

    The SEC already owns the air waves on Saturdays. The SEC doesn’t have to TRY to get better or stronger, it’s already the best and strongest.

    If the SEC added two more teams, I’d love to see it approached as a move “Honoring Tradition” by bringing back a couple of original SEC founding members. Georgia Tech and Tulane. I know Tulane especially sounds crazy, but think, they play in the SuperDome; it solidifies the great city of New Orleans as an SEC regular season and postseason venue. They add academics, a solid baseball team, and one of the largest endowments in the country. They’d be the Vandy of the West and with SEC football money, it wouldn’t take long to grow into a competitive program.

    We talk about defense in this league? Why don’t we defend our own TV markets and keep the Big East, ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, and whoever else out of our territory, whether it’s by including GaTech and Tulane or Clemson, FL State or whoever else.

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