Maryland and Rutgers officially made the move to the Big Ten on Tuesday, and that got us at the SEC blog thinking. If (more like when) the SEC goes to 16 teams, who would be the two teams most likely to join college's football elite conference?
I know, I know. You've all enjoyed an offseason devoid of conference realignment rumors, but wouldn't it be fun to think of the possibilities? Hypothetically, of course.
Edward and I took to the task. We eliminated Clemson and Florida State because despite how much sense it makes, it's never going to happen. They're more likely to join the Big 12 one day than the SEC. With that in mind, we picked the two teams that not only make sense but that we most want to see join the league that's won seven of the last eight national championships.
Take 1: Greg Ostendorf
Did you know that Georgia Tech and Tulane were founding members of the SEC? Why not just bring them back? Both schools would embrace the move, and Alabama's fight song would make sense again. Nah, the SEC can do better than that. This is the same league that went out and swiped Texas A&M the last time it expanded.
I'm thinking bigger. I'm thinking the program that invented swagger, the program that has won five national championships in the last 30 years, the program that nearly joined the SEC in 1990 when the league first expanded.
I'm thinking Miami.
It's been awhile since the Hurricanes were at the top of the college football world, but you'd think a move to the SEC would help with that. It'd be significant for recruiting as local kids would no longer have to leave town to play in the SEC. Attendance would go up if for no other reason than visiting schools bringing their fans down to South Beach, and it might help the school's chances of landing a new stadium.
From the SEC's standpoint, it makes sense geographically. It would bring back the Florida-Miami rivalry, and who wouldn't want to see Alabama, LSU or Auburn play Miami every couple of years. This should have happened years ago.
If Miami joined, Florida State would once again make the most sense to jump on board, but that's not going to happen. So instead I went the other direction with my second choice. I went with Louisville.
It would continue to expand the SEC's market in that area, it would pair the Cardinals with their in-state rival Kentucky, and it would significantly boost the league in both basketball and football. And how about Bobby Petrino returning to the SEC? Love him or hate him, he's the type of personality that would thrive in this league. He's already shown that once.
If the league sticks to its current model, both Louisville and Miami could join the East and allow for Missouri to move over to the West where it belongs.
Take 2: Edward Aschoff
While I like where Greg's head is at, I'm thinking even bigger. Also, Greg, have fun convincing Florida that having Miami in the same conference is beneficial.
If I were in charge of the SEC, I'd send some feelers east and see if there's any interest from North Carolina and Virginia Tech.
Both schools have been linked to the SEC for years. We're basically just waiting for someone to strike. I mean, it makes sense for both of them to ditch the ACC and make a new home in SEC territory. Travel wouldn't be bad for either school, and think of all the increased exposure for their brands.
However, whenever dealing with these schools, you have to think about their rivals -- Duke and Virginia. Would either school leave the ACC without its instate counterpart? That's a tough one, and you have to wonder if the SEC would want Duke or Virginia as a package deal. It might be tough to leave a man behind, but when the SEC -- and all that money -- comes calling, you'll probably wait around to hear the entire pitch.
We know that UNC and Virginia Tech would certainly benefit from a financial aspect, but the SEC would benefit too. UNC makes the most sense with that rich athletic and academic background (let's just put aside that whole academic investigation for a second). Not only do you have a football team that could compete, UNC would be an excellent addition to most Olympic sports, too. You now completely own the Carolina markets and get a school with a real national brand. Oh, and another power in basketball? Commissioner Mike Slive would love that (sorry Kentucky).
Virginia Tech has the atmosphere and culture that would make the transition over the SEC extremely easy. SEC fans have to be dying to check out a game in Blacksburg. And it's another market to tap into once you get Washington, D.C. secured. Virginia Tech might not have the overall athletic history as UNC, but it's by no means shabby.
It's tough to say that this scenario would ever happen, but it'd be perfect for the SEC, and not just for football reasons.