So with all the talk of conference realignment in college football and the inevitability that it is going to happen, I thought I would give my thoughts on how it should go. Some of these are a stretch, but to me make the most sense geographically and financially for each conference. Maybe this is also a step towards a plus one concept or a playoff system. More about the playoff system later. Here is a map of the Division I teams, as it is clear to see the majority of the teams are East of the Mighty Mississipp, so should be interesting where we can go.
I will just give you the SEC (@SECSportsUpdate) to start, with other conferences to follow. It seems like every week there is new news about this team going here or there.
SEC (as of 10/1/2011) has 13 official members. I believe they will eventually end up with 16, but they could stay at 13 for a few seasons waiting for a buyout or waiting period for the 14th team. So for the purposes of this I will give you my thoughts on the long-term solution with 16 teams.
Texas A&M (assume they will be in this division)
First, being from Texas I was shocked to even hear A&M being considered, but I can understand the want of A&M to leave with the University of Texas holding all the cards in the Big XXII and for the SEC wanting to add a school with a lot to offer and a new television market. Here is the story on secsports.com about A&M joining the conference.
Texas A&M, as with other SEC schools, brings a lot of traditions that will fit right into the fold. The one that most people are aware of is the 12th man, for more information here is the wiki page on the traditions at TAMU.
I believe Missouri will join as the 14th team, giving the SEC another top 25 TV market with St. Louis. Geographically it does not make sense at all, and as a fan of a team in the conference I am not that excited about adding a team like Mizzou, however I think it is only a matter of time.
So if they add Missouri, the SEC has two options:
1. Stay at 14 teams and move a team from the West to the East. If this happens, Auburn would be that team and would move over. This is the most logical move and will allow Georgia and Auburn to continue their long standing rivalry game, and the Iron Bowl can be the permanent crossover game for Auburn and Alabama.
2. Be aggressive and bring in two more teams from the Eastern side of the conference to balance them out at 8 teams in each division.
I personally like option 2 and feel like there are three logical teams to bring in to the fold.
1. Clemson. They operate and have facilities that will compete in the SEC. The fan base fits as well. It is a win-win for Clemson, the issue maybe getting enough votes from the other schools to get them in the door. With recruiting being a cutthroat business, will Georgia, South Carolina, Auburn, etc. want another team in their backyard recruiting to the SEC?
2. Florida State. Similar to Clemson, FSU goes about their business like a SEC team already. Again though will other schools want FSU in their backyard. Another issue is that FSU nor Clemson add anything more from a television market standpoint, however the SEC may overlook this here with the additions of Mizzou and A&M. For sure, Clemson and FSU add value from a sports standpoint, no doubt.
3. West Virginia. This is the most far reaching option, but as far as sports and competition, WVU fits in perfectly. The main issue here will be the television market and the fact that Morgantown is in the middle of nowhere.
So here are my divisions with 16 teams for the SEC:
*Texas A&M (assume they will be in this division)
Needless to say the new 13-team pinwheel that was unveiled at Texas A&M this week will be getting a lot busier in the near future.