By Ollie Walden
Why not now? That's the question the the SEC needs to ask itself. It seems every other conference is trying to figure ways to grow and expand their image and market value and grow their revenue and brand. The SEC set the tone for all of this twenty years ago by adding the Universities of Arkansas and South Carolina. Now it is twenty years later and the SEC has stayed the same while everyone around them has grown and improved. We have even seen the Big Eight become the Big Twelve and now slip back to just ten members.
The SEC has always seemed to take the charge with expansion and improving its brand name and value, but it has been kind of idle since then. The Big Ten and Pac Twelve are slowly growing to be as large and as competitive as the SEC has become. I think it it time for the SEC to be the first conference to make the move to a sixteen team conference. The SEC was the first to expand to twelve teams and should continue to be the leader and should expand to sixteen without having its hand forced by other conferences decisions.
I'm going to give you my personal opinion on who the SEC should go after in expansion and how they should handle divisions and scheduling going forward. They way I feel the SEC should go forward with expansion is west. I don't feel in benefits the conference to select more southern schools of which the conference already has a presence and markets of which the SEC already has a strong hold of. That being said you have to target the state of Texas and the University of Texas A&M would be my first selection to invite.
Texas has a huge television market and is full of highly ranked possible recruits. A lot of SEC schools recruit in Texas anyway and it would be more of an advantage to offer those recruits the possibility of playing in their home state every other year or so. The second and third choices would be the Universitiies of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. These two schools are in the same state and are so tied together that you would almost assuredly have to take them both together. By selecting these schools, you lock down the state of Oklahoma and bring in another great rivalry to your conference.
The fourth choice will be a little trickier, you could go north and bring in the University of Missouri and add another state, which would put the SEC at sixteen members in twelve states or you may have to keep Texas A&M happy and bring in another Texas school like the University of Texas Tech. I personally like the choice of Missouri, but I feel Texas A&M will push to bring in another Texas school to compete with so, I could see the SEC adding Texas Tech with Texas A&M.
This is going to make the SEC split into two eight team divisions. I think they will keep the same East and West formats but, both Alabama and Auburn will switch from the West divisions to the East divisions. This will bring back some great rivalries from old, like Auburn-Tennessee and Alabama-Georgia, on a yearly basis instead of every three years as it is now. The West division will now have Two Texas schools and Two Oklahoma schools to go along with Ole Miss, MSU, Arkansas and LSU. The University of Arkansas will be able to rekindle some of those lost rivalries they had from the old SWC days and new rivalries will be created. With the increased teams, I only see the SEC having to expand the schedule by one game. They could go from eight conference games a season to nine conference games a season and still have the SEC championship between the divisional winners every year.
Each school would play everyone within their own division, which is seven games, and then two against schools from the other division. This means every member would have faced everyone within the conference every four years. SEC schools will have to add another tough game to their schedules with the added conference game, but fans will be rewarded with a better game than another Sun Belt or Conference USA opponent beat down. There would be great new rivalries brought into the conference as well as great traditions and fans would be adding future trips into the states of Texas and Oklahoma to their road traveling agendas. Expansion will also allow the SEC to look into creating its own television network or by negotiating an even better one with the television giants than they have now.
I think the window for the SEC to move is coming up soon. It is just a matter of time before the Big Ten and Pac Twelve get greedy again and decide to expand and the current Big Twelve is just sitting on the edge of disaster waiting for the moment that they fall apart. Going forward, the possibilities are endless and it will all just take one domino to fall for the whole thing to be set in motion. The only question is will it be the SEC to make the next move or someone else? That is why I, myself, have asked the question, Why not now?
For more about conference realignment check out : Which School Should Become The Secs 14th Member, The Consequences of The Pac 16 and College Basketball After The Super Conferences.
Here's our Conference Realignment is Good for College Football.
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