Last year was the "Summer of Expansion" as we saw enough rumors to fill the dead period with excitement; who should take the lead in expansion, why would the SEC want to expand, and of course the terrifying move of six Big XII teams to the Pac-10 (complete with Sophie Ellis Bextor clip!). This offseason scandal has been the new expansion as UNC, Ohio State, Oregon, Georgia Tech and Auburn discussion have taken the place of which team is going to show up in which league.
Well that is until now; the Longhorn Network decision to show Texas' recruits in high school football games from a few days ago re-sparked the expansion discussion by folks from Texas A&M and Oklahoma. In the short term those folks have created enough of a stir to halt the airing of high school contests on the Longhorn Network. For now. A short run win for the Aggies and the Sooners as the Horns and ESPN wait to get an official ruling from the NCAA and as Peter Bean from Burnt Orange Nation shows; this is about Texas caressing the folks who can help them maximize their profit margins.
However, the damage has already been done. Folks are already butthurt at the notion that Texas would gain some recruiting advantages, regardless of the reality that they are already enjoying the most ridiculous advantage in the game today without said network. Texas A&M is going to meeting about the LHN and both aTm and the Sooners are looking into the SEC as a possible option. To add to this a candid Mike Slive responded to a question during SEC Media Days (which we have here on the site thanks to XOS Digital) about the Super Conference:
"I could get to 16 (teams) in 15 minutes."
So we're off and running again. This is going to be what gets us to training camp apparently. More talk about expansion and the super conference.
That's not sarcasm folks, that's legitimate joy. Finally, expansion is back on deck. It means maybe, just maybe, we can get to the almighty Super Conference, we can get to the separate division for said super conferences, splitting FBS football up further or, wait for it, wait for it, totally just separating from the NCAA and doing our own thing.
Caught some thoughts this morning from Jon Wilner as the expansion thoughts heated up and to quite honest they terrify me. I don't want to be a Big Ten guy. No disrespect and Wilner's points regarding academics are great, hell even the haughty air of being 'better than' makes sense to me.
But I don't want to be a B1G kid.
Here's what I want after the jump...
I want to be in the SEC. As Wilner points out the Pac-12, the Big Ten and the SEC are the only leagues that are guaranteed to be around. The Pac-12 is out but with the Big Ten and SEC on the table I'm opting to cast our lot with our Southern Brothers. In my magical land where I get to pick I'm riding with the SEC er'day all day and twice on Saturdays.
Not because of the SEC's TV contract, in reality the Big Ten's network deal and their ability to expand revenue on a yearly basis has higher money making potential. They have better academics and we are current AAU members. Obviously with Indiana, Purdue, Michigan State, Michigan and the recent success of Ohio State the basketball product is better and the current existence and popularity of the ACC-Big Ten challenge gives some substantial clout to that angle.
Problem is I don't particularly care. This is my world and for my money two showing of Kentucky-UNC, Calipari-Williams, two blue bloods playing one another for conference championships ought to at least make some folks happy. We'll figure Duke-UNC out for once a year, not two or possible three, that will make it a once game for all the marbles deal.
So here's what I'd do if I'm in charge, not make the UNC-Duke play that Wilner referenced, rather I'd go with OU, aTm, Virginia Tech and UNC. Is it likely? No. Oklahoma State is going to fight tooth and nail to be included and the powers that be in Oklahoma aren't going to let this happen. On the UNC side odds that UNC and Duke split are like a snowball's shot in hell. But there's a method to my madness here folks.
The SEC already has a strong presence in the Carolinas through Sakerlina and Tennessee's proximity as well as the transient nature of North Carolina's two largest population hubs; Charlotte and the Triangle. Both have heavy transplant populations; many of whom are from SEC country, Charlotte more so than Raleigh. By grabbing UNC you get the state, the entire state. With Virginia Tech you get major parts of Virginia including a cut into the DC and Tidewater markets where, coaches will tell you, there is plenty of talent to pick from.
A&M's draw is easy, you get to cut into Texas. For a school like Arkansas or LSU being able to tell recruits they'll be playing in their home state every other year and up the road in Norman at that same clip is a big plus when dipping into Texas.
In the Sooners you get a legitimate football dedicated school. They are committed to success and whether it is Bud Wilkinson, Barry Switzer or now Bob Stoops the Sooners are a team and a state that is going to find their way to success. That team is part of their identity and being mediocre is not something that they will settle for. You don't get a huge media market, OKC is nice, but OU's value comes through their dedication and their push to excel in this arena.
Now the Heels would be living my dream. Folks got a taste of what real football fandom looks like in Atlanta a year ago as the LSU fans swarmed the Georgia Dome in droves, tailgating, bringing their RVs and their recipes and their bourbon. Chapel Hill got mobbed in 2007 as Sakerlina made the trip up and there were Gamecock tents and plenty of Gamecock fans in line with me at 7:50am at the ABC store as UNC fans slept in. A move like this would fully baptize Heels in the ways of the game. Instead of pockets of fans you'd get folks who see what it is all about. I've been to Neyland, Sanford and Williams-Brice, if you don't walk out of those places with a "yeah, we oughta do better" then that might be a you problem.
For the SEC they get a Top 5 basketball property to make their January to April a bit more appealing than Kentucky, sometimes Florida and then everybody else.
I've seen Clemson, FSU, WVU and even GT bandied about. The Jackets aren't going back to the SEC, WVU is a nice cultural fit and honestly if resistance is met from other options I could see the Mountaineers fitting into the mix nicely. Regarding Clemson, Florida State and GT we're talking about markets already saturated by the SEC. Georgia is a UGA state. Florida is a Gators state. Clemson and South Carolina both play well in SC but the market itself isn't big enough to warrant grabbing the Tigers; granted, I think we can all admit, Tiger Town does have an SEC cultural feel to it.
Plain and simple I want in. North Carolina State is a game that can become out UGA-GT, UF-FSU, Clemson-USC rivalry weekend game every year as it should be. Duke-UNC can be scheduled in basketball. The only thing I fear we'll miss out on is UVA-UNC and sadly most fans don't even realize how much of a rivalry that is. If self preservation is the name of the game this makes that happen. A schedule in the new SEC East featuring dates with Georgia, Florida, Sakerlina, VT, Tennessee headlining on a yearly basis is infinitely better than Miami, UVA, VT, GT and Duke.
Let's play some football.