With Texas A&M’s increasing chances of becoming the SEC’s 13th member next year, there has been a lot of talk about which team could join next. Here’s a handicap of schools that have been mentioned as possible SEC expansion targets:
GOT A CHANCE
Missouri: Makes a lot of sense. Adding the Tigers expands reach into Midwest and two top-31 TV markets. Missouri borders three SEC states and has great programs. But can the SEC take two Big 12 schools?
West Virginia: The SEC feel. Seems like a good fit with a large, passionate fan base and successful programs. But would the Mountaineers want to trade dominance in the Big East to slug it out in the SEC?
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Maryland: Hail to the chief. Getting more attention in a top-10 TV market would be huge. And, the Terrapins certainly wouldn’t mind their piece of a bigger TV contract. But can the SEC hopscotch over two states to add the ACC’s second-most successful school of all time?
Virginia Tech: The favorite. A relatively new ACC school with solid teams that might be looking for a bigger paycheck. But do the Hokies add anything as a new large market for the SEC?
TCU: Small school, big market. Vanderbilt would have a private school partner, and the Horned Frogs would bring the No. 5 Dallas/Fort Worth TV market into play. Oh, and they have a pretty good football team. But can the SEC trump the TCU’s impending move to the Big East next year?
N.C. State: The Texas A&M of the ACC. The Wolfpack would like to get out of the shadow of bigger football and basketball programs. But would the folks in Raleigh really want to break up the Tobacco Road schools?
Cincinnati: Silent treatment. The Bearcats have decent programs, a top-35 TV market and a neighbor in Kentucky. But there’s not a lot of buzz at the moment. Is the SEC interested? Anyone?
Clemson/Florida State/Georgia Tech/Louisville: While all of these schools would be good additions, there’s word that the conference does not want to add members in states with SEC teams.
Kansas/Kansas State/Texas Tech/Baylor/Oklahoma State: The Big 12 others. The Sunflower State schools seem more like candidates for an expanded Big Ten or Pac 12. (Though two annual hoops matchups between the Kansas and Kentucky could be the SEC’s UNC-Duke.) Red Raiders and Bears have decent programs that would add to the SEC’s Texas presence, but their smaller markets and fan bases don’t provide much overall boost. The Cowboys are probably a package deal with Oklahoma.
BYU/Boise State: Westward ho! Not. Too far outside the SEC’s core geography to consider seriously.
Oklahoma/UNC/Notre Dame: The dream schools. Not happening. The Sooners appear more likely to head to an expanded Pac 12 if the Big 12 dissolves (though expect a hard sell from the SEC). The Tar Heels seem to have little incentive to leave the ACC. And the Irish make too much money as an independent and have a sweet arrangement with the BCS.