Just like it did in the summer of 2010, college football expansion chatter has gripped the country (fine, just the internet) for the last few days. Texas A&M was going to the SEC! Meetings were being held! The ACC was on the cusp of being pillaged! The Big 12 was being held together by scotch tape! Everyone and their mom had “sources” saying who the SEC wanted to add as a 14th team. A few media types got frothy (again) and speculated that the SEC was going to add Texas A&M and three other teams to become a 16-team Super Conference. Sunday evening, the SEC suits released a carefully-worded statement:
“The SEC Presidents and Chancellors met today and reaffirmed our satisfaction with the present 12 institutional alignment. We recognize, however, that future conditions may make it advantageous to expand the number of institutions in the league. We discussed criteria and process associated with expansion. No action was taken with respect to any institution including Texas A&M.”
The anti-A&M crowd is reading it this way – the Aggies never had an invite! That’s silly, of course. Read it again. The statement is ambiguous. Very open-ended. It sounded like, “can everyone calm down? We don’t want any legal issues, so let Texas A&M pull out of the Big 12 and we’ll make our move. It’ll take a couple of weeks. Be patient.” A few hours later,
Texas mouthpiece Texas rivals reporter Chip Brown ran with this:
A source locked into Texas A&M’s situation said the Aggies will be announced as members of the Southeastern Conference beginning in 2012 within 21 days.
So now that the Aggies are going to the SEC – Brown is very plugged in at Texas, so it’s safe to assume this is a done deal – can we proceed with finding the league a 14th team? I still think Missouri would be a logical fit – expanding into the Midwest, two good TV markets, not getting a program that will be an immediate threat – but what about Virginia Tech?
While the 21st and 31st TV markets in St. Louis and Kansas City would expand the SEC’s reach if it added Missouri, Virginia Tech is just four hours south of Washington DC, which is the 9th largest TV market. Do you think the SEC would like to get some play in the DC-New York-Boston corridor? Of course. College football has little or no presence in the Northeast, with the exception of Penn State (a big deal in Philly), one Rutgers run a few years ago and occasional love for Boston College. From that angle, doesn’t Virginia Tech make more sense than Missouri?
From Virginia Tech’s point of view, how much would a move to the SEC help on the recruiting front?
Tech is in a perfect location to clean up in recruiting with the SEC as a selling point. Its proximity to North Carolina, West Virginia and the DC/Maryland hub = tons of talent (here’s a Rivals breakdown). Virginia Tech already gets its share of prime-time games and solid exposure on ESPN. That would be taken to another level if it were playing in the loaded SEC.
The partnership seems to make sense for both parties. The only angle that I can see Virginia Tech balking at is the big fish-small pond aspect. Would the Hokies rather dominate the weak ACC – 3-1 in title games since the league started one in 2005 – and have an easy road to the BCS (1-4 in five appearances; that’s more BCS appearances than everyone in the SEC but Florida)? Gosh, I hope not.
Since you’re wondering, Virginia Tech has already responded to rumors of a move to the SEC.
“Virginia Tech is exceedingly pleased with our membership in the ACC. It is the perfect conference for us. The university administration has no interest in any discussion concerning affiliation with any conference other than the ACC.”