SDS Roundtable: If and when the SEC expands again, which 2 schools should it realistically add?
Each SDS roundtable discussion involves the SDS staff providing individual answers and comments to questions covering a wide range of sports and non-sports topics. In this discussion, we ask the question: If the SEC expands again, which 2 schools should it realistically add?
Previous roundtable discussions:
- If you could change 1 thing about college football, what would it be?
- What are you watching right now?
- Who is your favorite SEC football player of all-time?
- What are your 3 favorite postseason moments involving SEC teams?
- Which 4 SEC athletes are on your Mount Rushmore?
- What is your most painful sports memory?
- The greatest team I ever saw …
- Which school’s all-time position group is the best in SEC history?
- Who are your way-too-early picks to make the College Football Playoff?
Jon Cooper, SDS co-founder
Well, I’m going to have fun with this one. The SEC should add Oklahoma and Oklahoma State during another round of expansion. The Big 12 is the biggest risk to have teams poached, and adding OU and OSU to the slate would only strengthen the conference and give it another state for a geographic footprint. The whole Longhorn Network fiasco damaged relationships in the Big 12. OU is the best team to be considered a fit at this time. It would likely bring OSU along with it.
In the current landscape, there’s really no need for the SEC to expand beyond 14 teams.
Connor O’Gara, Senior national columnist
Let’s go with Oklahoma and UNC. The Sooners would be as coveted as they come if the Big 12 were to implode under the “Texas is still getting all the love” premise. Could the SEC woo a program like Oklahoma? That’s a fascinating question. A decade ago, nobody pegged Texas A&M as an SEC school and here we are. The last expansion for the SEC was West, and obviously adding a team that consistently good would go a long way in solidifying it as the premier football conference.
Why UNC? Let’s not forget that the SEC is working diligently on establishing its basketball brand. The ACC is the clear-cut No. 1 hoops conference, and obviously leaving that wouldn’t come without risk for UNC. But if that annual paycheck doubles, well, money talks. We’d get a yearly football rivalry with South Carolina and annual UNC-Kentucky hoops games would be must-see TV.
These additions wouldn’t be easy, but if we’re talking about realistic programs who wouldn’t slam the door in the SEC’s face, these 2 would have to be near the top of the list.
Michael Bratton, News editor
The names most often thrown out (Clemson and FSU) don’t make a ton of sense to me and it seems highly likely that South Carolina and Florida would both be against those moves.
If the SEC were to expand, I would look for the conference to reach into North Carolina and/or Virginia to find teams interested. The ACC may have a high exit fee, but if the SEC could somehow land North Carolina’s basketball program, that fee would be worth it.
It still seems odd to me that the SEC Network is in Charlotte yet there isn’t a league team in that state. I believe that would be something the league would look to correct should expansion occur.
The other candidate that makes a ton of sense is Virginia Tech. Adding the Hokies would bring in another proud football program and give that school additional bragging rights over Virginia. Tech may even chip in to pay the exit fee if the SEC extended an invite.
Adam Spencer, Newsletter editor
Realistically, I don’t think the SEC would add any schools from a state where it already has a presence, so that leaves out teams like Clemson, Louisville, Texas, Florida State, Miami, etc. I think the conference would want to expand its footprint up the East Coast, so Virginia Tech would be an enticing option. NC State would also be a possibility, but the Wolfpack probably value their basketball rivalries too much to make the move to the SEC. The Hokies, on the other hand, would be a great addition.
Then, there’s the Sooner State. Either Oklahoma or Oklahoma State would be my second choice. Obviously, I’d rather have the Sooners for all the history they bring, but they might not want to split with Texas. The Cowboys, on the other hand, might be more willing to make the jump. I’d only let Oklahoma State in if Mike Gundy keeps the mullet, though.
Chris Wright, Executive editor
First, let’s politely but permanently dismiss the notion that UNC would ever leave the ACC. That’s a pipedream. UNC is a founding member of the ACC and, since its inception, the biggest brand name in the ACC. The ACC commissioner is a former UNC football player and, later, athletic director. The ACC league office is 50 miles west of Chapel Hill. The ACC is and will forever be … North Carolina. As long as there is an ACC, UNC will be part of the ACC. I can’t make that any clearer.
If you are looking for a realistic ACC option — that $52 million exit fee isn’t nearly as intimidating in 2021 and beyond as it was when Maryland left in 2012 — FSU, Miami and Virginia Tech make the most sense. All 3 schools have a football-first mentality that has always been better aligned with the SEC than ACC, anyway. I’m still not convinced any of the 3 are gettable. Virginia Tech seems like it would be a geographic outlier much like Missouri.
I think the SEC could poach just about any Big 12 school it wanted. The exit fees are modest, the football is outstanding and so too are the football cultures. Texas would be an absolute coup, but I’m not sure how realistic that is. Probably not very.
Coop stole my thunder a bit with his preference. I thought I’d be alone in this, but I’d make an Alabama-after-Nick Saban-like run at Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. Package deal. They fit the SEC mindset and complete the SEC’s geographic footprint between Texas A&M and Missouri. It’s perfect. That would create some logistical issues, however. Assuming Missouri goes to the West, you’d need Auburn and somebody else, maybe 1 of the Mississippi schools, to move to the East.
If the SEC decides poaching Power 5 programs isn’t realistic, I take a long look at UCF and USF. Again, not one or the other but both. That leaves out the possibility of adding Houston, but the Florida programs are a better fit. They are natural rivals and both have reached the highest levels of the sport. USF, don’t forget, once was No. 2 in the BCS ranking. Both are in coveted Florida markets for recruiting and college football interest.
Adding both also would allow the SEC to move Missouri into the West, the easiest and most logical realignment possible.