By Steven Lassan and Mitch Light
Texas A&M has announced its intentions to apply for membership in the SEC. The Aggies intend to join the SEC in time for the 2012 season. However, the conference can't stay at 13 teams forever. Which teams could be on Mike Slive's wish list to be team No. 14?
SEC Expansion Candidates
Pros: If the SEC doesn’t want to be viewed as a “conference killer”, Louisville could be an easy and safe choice as the 14th team. The program draws well when it wins and has proven it can compete at a high level nationally. Great fit geographically. Puts SEC into a large pseudo-Southern city. Great basketball team with sparkling new arena. Football stadium is relatively new and in great shape.
Cons: The SEC is unlikely to expand within its current footprint for a 14th team. Kentucky would likely object to an in-state rival joining the conference. Program draws well but doesn’t have a lot of fans outside of the city of Louisville. A longshot to join the SEC.
Pros: The SEC would like to expand to new markets, and Maryland definitely fits that criteria. The Terrapins could help attract the Washington, D.C. market – a potentially lucrative area for the SEC.
Cons: Program has struggled to keep its head above water in the ACC, which has been considerably weaker than the SEC in recent seasons. Would not be the best fit geographically.
Pros: Would attract new large metro areas for the SEC with St. Louis and Kansas City. Seems like an odd match at first, but actually a good geographic fit. Football program has raised its profile in recent seasons; should be able to compete in the SEC. Would give Arkansas a geographic rival.
Cons: Very few. The Tigers seem committed to the Big 12, but will that change in the coming weeks? Depending on how expansion plays out with the other conferences, Missouri could be courted by the Big Ten.
Pros: If the SEC can’t land North Carolina, then why not target its in-state rival? The Wolfpack could be the wildcard in terms of SEC expansion. Seems to be a good fit culturally for the SEC and would bring the conference into North Carolina, a state SEC schools like to recruit in. Program has a ton of potential and could be very competitive, with the right coach in the SEC.
Cons: Very few. The Wolfpack are a charter member of the ACC – would they be willing to leave that conference behind? Would they want to separate from North Carolina?
Pros: If the SEC wants to get into North Carolina, the Tar Heels would be atop the wish list. SEC schools like to recruit in North Carolina and this would open the door for the conference to expand its footprint. With the right coach, North Carolina can be very competitive in the SEC. The resources are there to compete for conference championships.
Cons: Expansion seems to be all about football – would North Carolina basketball want to leave the ACC? The Tar Heels are also a charter member of the ACC, which could make it more difficult to leave. Would North Carolina want to leave behind in-state rival NC State in conference expansion?
Pros: Adding the Hokies would be a huge catch for the SEC. This would bring the conference into Virginia, one of the most fertile recruiting grounds in the country. Great fit culturally and geographically. Program recruits well and draws well. When the SEC adds a 14th team, it’s about new markets and expanding its reach. Virginia Tech fits both criteria and is a perfect fit for the conference.
The SEC reportedly rejected West Virginia's application for membership last week. However, don't write off the Mountaineers just yet.
Pros: Very competitive in the Big East in football and basketball. A new area for the SEC to expand its footprint. The SEC doesn’t want to be viewed as a “conference killer,” and West Virginia could be an easy target from the Big East. The Mountaineers have SEC-like support and wouldn’t be too much of a stretch geographically. Could help the SEC expand its recruiting into Ohio and Pennsylvania.
Cons: The Mountaineers won’t bring in a huge television market, but that’s the only drawback for the SEC.
Rumored candidates, but slim chance they join the SEC
Clemson – Has a great rivalry with South Carolina, but would not bring the SEC any new markets. The Gamecocks probably wouldn’t want another school from the same state in the conference.
Florida State – Although Florida State might be the best addition in terms of a football powerhouse, the Seminoles remain an unrealistic target. Could Florida block any potential application for Florida State into the SEC? Just like Clemson and Georgia Tech, the Seminoles wouldn’t add anything to the footprint of the SEC.
Georgia Tech – Any negatives for Georgia Tech are largely the same as Clemson and Florida State – the Yellow Jackets don’t bring the SEC any new markets.
Oklahoma – All signs point to Oklahoma being more interested in the Pac-12 than the SEC.
Texas – Getting two teams into Texas would be a nice addition for the SEC, but it’s unlikely the Longhorns would be ready to give up their television network and go for equal revenue sharing.
Also Read:Should Missouri Join the SEC?