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UK Fan of the Day Eats Up Some Analysis of the SEC Shakeup

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After a couple of relatively quiet weeks on the news front, Saturday has become ground zero for important events on the UK sports scene. Events that were previously unexpected have all come together to see a seismic shift in the SEC, as talk of expansion could completely change the college sports landscape going forward. A quick dive into what it all means:

WHAT HAS HAPPENED

It now seems like a foregone conclusion, which of course means it could all change tomorrow. But if events proceed in the direction they are heading, Texas A&M is set to join the SEC next week. Every reporter with a source (and many likely without) are reporting that the Aggies are meeting on Monday to vote for the move and minus some last minute good old Texas politickin’, the SEC will have its 13th member. A lot of fans have been questioning the rationale for the move, but for me it is quite simple.

(1) A&M is an Attractive Addition: Once you make the decision, or are forced to make the decision (more on that later) to expand, the Aggies are probably the most attractive of all reasonable potential members. A&M opens up an entirely new football-crazy market to the SEC and brings with it one of the most under-appreciated, passionate fanbases in college football. The 12th Man is one of the great traditions in the sport and culturally, it fits directly into the current SEC perfectly. Over the last 15 years, the Aggies have taken a backseat to Texas/Oklahoma in the Big 12 and with the Longhorns recent power play on the Longhorn Network, the time was right for a move. The SEC gets a large institution with a huge fanbase, opens up a new recruiting market and makes SEC football even more relevant in Texas than it was before their addition. In that respect, it is virtually a no-brainer. PLUS, you dont have any baggage, as A&M coming to the SEC does not require you to take Texas Tech, in the same way that adding Oklahoma probably forces the addition of Oklahoma State. Slam-dunk decision.

(2) SEC Gets First Choice in Inevitable Rush to Expansion: We have talked about it often on here thanks to Coach Calipari’s comments on the subject, but the move in college sports to four 16 team power conferences seems inevitable. Whether that then leads to movement away from the NCAA is up for debate, but the reality is that very soon the major college sports landscape will look like this: SEC, BIG TEN, PAC TEN and whatever 4th conference survives out of Big East, ACC and Big 12. The money suggests that these super conferences would find huge television homes (all likely creating their own network) and they would become the centerpieces for college athletics in the future. If it is inevitable, then the SEC is making the right move in striking first. By adding Texas A&M, the SEC gets the best of the currently available options before other conferences get first selection. No one believes Texas A&M will be the last selection, but it is likely the best one and the SEC took them before the Pac 10 could.

WHAT IS NEXT

So what happens next? Well if you listen to the reporters online, it is clear that no one knows. Most seem to agree that the field of viable candidates to be the 14th or potentially the 15/16th team includes:

Missouri
Oklahoma
Oklahoma State
Florida State
Clemson
Virginia Tech
Georgia Tech
NC State

The reality is that none of those schools are close to done deals and all come with baggage/potential problems. Oklahoma is an attractive addition, but there seems to be no earthly reason to add both OU and OSU, considering the overall size of the state. If reports that they are a “package deal” are correct, the Sooners will be like your good friend that marries an awful spouse and then becomes much less appealing to invite over for future get-togethers. FSU/Clemson/Georgia Tech are all each individually strong athletic programs but suffer in attractiveness due to the fact that they share a state with current conference members. If there is any truth to the “secret pact” between Florida/Georgia and South Carolina keeping their in-state rivals out, then their addition seems even less promising. NC State would be an interesting addition and it might be a good move for the Wolfpack to get out of the “Jan Brady” third sister niche they currently fill in the state of North Carolina. But that would be a huge strike against tradition and seems like a long shot.

All of which leaves what I think are the two most likely schools for the 14th invite, Missouri and Virginia Tech. While both deny interest, I trust nothing any school says publicly until agreements are worked out privately. Missouri adds the television markets of St Louis and Kansas City, while allowing the SEC to dip its toe into the Midwest, should it ever want to look at a school like Kansas in the future. Virginia Tech adds another powerhouse football program with a loyal fan base, and opens up even further the ever-growing fertile recruiting base of the Virginia coast. Both would be attractive enough to add luster to future TV deals and neither would embarrass the conference academically, so to me, the smart money is on one of the two getting the next invite.

Then the question becomes, do you go to 16…and if so, how creative are you willing to be? Do you go north and pick off Maryland? How about to the Midwest for Kansas? Do you try to be crazy creative and go after North Carolina/Duke? None are as far fetched as you might imagine, because the future of both the ACC and Big 12 is far from certain. The reality is that this is a brave new world, and we dont know what will happen.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR KENTUCKY?

The short answer…as of now, probably not much. Texas A&M is a perfect addition because it is a football powerhouse name, but they are actually beatable. The Aggies are only 36-29 the last four years, while Kentucky is 35-29 with a tougher schedule. Any conference realignment will probably put the Aggies in the West, so UK probably wont play them often anyway. What will matter much more for Kentucky in football is who the NEXT addition is. If it is Missouri, Kentucky could get a beatable Eastern opponent…thats good! If it is Virginia Tech, well its another tough team to take out…but we do get a fun road trip to add to the mix! If it is Clemson and Florida State…well lets not talk about it.

For basketball, all of these teams just add filler. Texas A&M has been decent the past few years, as has Virginia Tech and Missouri. But none are powers and none will shift the landscape of the SEC. What would be more interesting for Kentucky basketball in the future is if the SEC tries to get creative and moves to a NC State/Maryland/Kansas/North Carolina, etc for the future 15th and 16th members. That is probably unlikely, but at least in the case of Maryland and UNC, the markets/marketability of the programs would make the SEC try. But many factors, most notably the programs’ ACC loyalty to the death, would make it quite a long shot.

One thing that a Texas A&M announcement almost makes certain will happen in the not-too-distant future. There will be an SEC Television Network. The money is there…the markets are there…and unlike the Longhorn Network, the programming is there. Current tv contracts make it difficult, but presumably they will be renegotiated as part of the expansion. When that happens, one has to think the new network is coming. The question is not if, it is just when.

So lets get ready to welcome the Aggies to the SEC fray. If nothing else, it gives us a new team to make jokes about for years to come.

Article written by Matt Jones

29 Comments for UK Fan of the Day Eats Up Some Analysis of the SEC Shakeup



  1. mocha
    5:55 pm August 13, 2011 Permalink

    Kaboom.



  2. Joker
    5:58 pm August 13, 2011 Permalink

    Oh my, if all these teams join, we will need 6 out of conference games to make a bowl game. Maybe Mitch will let us join CUSA.



  3. Mr Schwump
    6:05 pm August 13, 2011 Permalink

    Basketball comment doesn’t mean jack, this is football driven.



  4. Todd
    6:18 pm August 13, 2011 Permalink

    Assuming the “secret pact” is true and the SEC East options are slimmer, any thoughts on adding Louisville to the SEC? I’d love to see them tackle Alabama, Florida, etc in football 🙂



  5. jason
    6:22 pm August 13, 2011 Permalink

    Ummm…..I like how you’re afraid of Clemson. “….Let’s not talk about it” ???/ Um okay, what do you think there some powerhouse or something?



  6. Mr Schwump
    6:38 pm August 13, 2011 Permalink

    4, SEC can, will and should do better than L. Why not Morehead?



  7. kyjim
    6:40 pm August 13, 2011 Permalink

    The best money advantage would be an SEC market that would add these four schools: TA&M, OK or Mizzou,UVA,and NC. SEC would then have 13 states’ flagship universities. Money markets indeed. All would probably accept an invite. Astronomical increases in TV, apparel, logo items sales. More money; better sports! The SEC would be the best football and basketball conference in the nation w/i five years. Marketing experts know this; does the SEC? Yes! Go SEC!!



  8. Skippy Fernandez
    6:43 pm August 13, 2011 Permalink

    Man, that’s the most disturbing picture yet. BTW, Louisville will get an invite to the SEC … right after Western Kentucky and Murray State turn down their invites to the SEC.



  9. kent
    6:49 pm August 13, 2011 Permalink

    As long it’s a southern state, I’m fine with it. Missouri doesn’t really make sense geographically.



  10. UK rifle > WVU rifle
    7:11 pm August 13, 2011 Permalink

    Matt,

    Is MB in TX this weekend, there has been a reported sighting there?

    If the SEC adds Missouri, Mike Slive has lost his mind

    North Carolina State to pick up UNC and VT

    oh yeah, no offense Matt, DUCK FOOK !!



  11. Big Blue 66
    7:22 pm August 13, 2011 Permalink

    all I want to know is…are we having a live blog from Boogies B day party?



  12. catnuts
    7:23 pm August 13, 2011 Permalink

    WTF is this guy eating,vomit stew?



  13. Spurious
    7:50 pm August 13, 2011 Permalink

    Having been a Missouri resident for quite a long time, I believe you are wrong about the viability of the TV markets in St. Louis and Kansas City. Illinois has a presence in St. Louis that is nearly as strong as that of Mizzou and the University of Kansas “owns” Kansas City. Lawrence is closer to KC that is Columbia and KU recruits there far better than does MU. If one is interested in having Kansas City as a TV market, KU is a better candidate for SEC membership. But, who sees THAT happening?



  14. Spurious
    7:51 pm August 13, 2011 Permalink

    Having been a Missouri resident for quite a long time, I believe you are wrong about the viability of the TV markets in St. Louis and Kansas City. Illinois has a presence in St. Louis that is nearly as strong as that of Mizzou and the University of Kansas “owns” Kansas City. Lawrence is closer to KC than is Columbia and KU recruits there far better than does MU. If one is interested in having Kansas City as a TV market, KU is a better candidate for SEC membership. But, who sees THAT happening?



  15. Calipari'sInYourEar
    8:45 pm August 13, 2011 Permalink

    Ha! Only a Duke grad would mention Duke as a potential option in this.

    No football program Matt. Comedy hour on KSR.



  16. tavius the unworldly
    9:08 pm August 13, 2011 Permalink

    WVU!!



  17. MtnCat
    9:09 pm August 13, 2011 Permalink

    Missouri, NC State, and VT, along with A&M makes an attractive media market addition. All will have room to grow in the SEC.
    Oklahoma, North Carolina, and Texas are too big to swallow at the moment.
    GT, Clemson, and OSU offer less to the SEC than others.
    FSU is a natural fit, they could be the key that creates the first mega conference. IF they bolt the football side of the ACC is seriously threatened and the conference is fluid, anything is possible then.
    My guess is two from the Big 12 and two from the ACC join the SEC in the same fashion as in biblical times, two at a time.



  18. mtpunchout
    9:33 pm August 13, 2011 Permalink

    Why not West Virginia? I haven’t seen them mentioned but they are strong in football and basketball and have a devoted fan base. Seems like they would be a good fit.



  19. MizzouCATSfan
    10:34 pm August 13, 2011 Permalink

    I’m admittedly bias as Missouri native, but I don’t know why I keep reading/hearing that they would be a good addition football-wise for Kentucky. Mizzou is light years ahead of where we are in football. Only six BCS teams (Ohio State, Oklahoma, Alabama, Florida, VA Tech and Oregon) have won more games than Mizzou over the last five yeras. They’ve also had more guys drafted in the first round than anyone other than Alabama over the last three years. Their peak year (also 2007) was better than ours (Chase Daniel, Heisman finalst>Woodson, finished regular season #1 in country…not to mention smashed an SEC team – Arkansas – in the Cotton Bowl that year). They had two top ten picks last year and they’ve won ten games three of the last four years. Plus it’s a very stable program, with virtually no staff turnover since Pinkel showed up in 2001. Plus they have built in advantages like two cities (KC/STL) that are bigger than Louisville and play better high school football.



  20. Maggard's Left Nut
    11:08 pm August 13, 2011 Permalink

    Matt, you need to do your homework. Kansas and Kansas State are a package deal.



  21. RealTalk
    11:15 pm August 13, 2011 Permalink

    The guy in the picture is sexiii



  22. Mark Liptak
    12:23 am August 14, 2011 Permalink

    The Sporting News on their web site is reporting tonight that the N.Y. Times story is WRONG (big surprise) and that SEC president’s will NOT MEET Sunday.

    Story goes on to say that the Texas State Board of Education meets Monday, another body Tuesday to take up the A&M question. Story thinks A&M still intends to leave the Big-12.

    Where it really gets interesting is the story quotes a high SEC source as saying, Florida / Georgia / So. Carolina have a pact to vote no on any team from their state being considered for entry (Florida State, Georgia Tech or Clemson).

    But the biggest one of all.

    Louisville has now apparently entered the mix of potential 14th teams in the SEC and the story says KENTUCKY WOULD HAVE NO OBJECTION TO THEM BEING ALLOWED IN.

    Source also says the SEC will NOT expand past 14 teams. That is the limit for conference expasion.

    Mark Liptak



  23. Charlie Sheen
    9:13 am August 14, 2011 Permalink

    First pick? The Pac 12 and Big 10 had their first picks last year while the SEC was on the sidelines. Could have swore BTI wrote this article.



  24. mores
    9:42 am August 14, 2011 Permalink

    Matt, I don’t think you give A&M enough credit; they’ll be just as tough as any other SEC foe. Sherman’s done a great job rebuilding down there (get it?). He’s taken them from 4-8 to 6-7 to 9-4 and they are LOADED this year with a bajillion returning starters and are a consensus Top 10 team. With a top 5 recruiting class on the way, it’s likely they’ll be very good for the foreseeable future.



  25. Catcounsel
    9:47 am August 14, 2011 Permalink

    It seems to me that #16 and #18 have hit on a viable option that might deserve consideration. I do not know anything about the academic question for West Virginia, but I do know that their fanbase is very strong (saw report that they were #5 in the nation overall). They would accept an offer for the SEC East in a heartbeat, we all already know that. A tough football matchup for Kentucky each year, and the basketball game would be prime time on TV. I will admit that there are other schools deserving of consideration for the SEC East, but I would be distressed if WVU never even got real consideration when trying to finish off the Texas A & M addition. GO Big Blue!



  26. Buckets
    10:16 am August 14, 2011 Permalink

    WVU and duh ville! WVU would add a good football program, U of LOL seems to moving in the direction of being a better football program than they have been the last several years, and both schools would raise the conference’s basketball profile. Sounds good to me.



  27. wink
    2:47 pm August 14, 2011 Permalink

    Lou and WVU offer almost nothing that the other schools offer. No additional significant tv markets. Its all about money. Good rivalries are irrelevant, and basketball is irrelevant in the discussion.



  28. john
    7:13 pm August 14, 2011 Permalink

    You got the records backwards..Kentucky is 36-29 and A&M is 35-29..and it’s over the past 5 seasons not 4



  29. GummyBear
    9:32 am August 15, 2011 Permalink

    What about the U? Miami would be a perfect fit, IMO. Great football tradition, decent basketball team and a huge TV market in Miami.