Running around to Give you the Reacharound


In Which While Writing This, I Almost Referred to a Conference As "We" Nine Times

With both college football/NFL in full swing and the baseball playoffs providing drama on a nightly basis, there shouldn't be any excuse for a red-blooded American sports fan to be following this conference realignment nonsense. I would counter, however, with the following:

  • While college football is fucking awesome in every respect, we really don't yet know who the best teams are outside of Louisiana or Alabama, or even if there are any/many good ones. At this point, it appears as tho all non-LSU/Bama top teams have feasted on a menu of cupcakes, ACC teams whose elitism is questionable, and Mississippi State, whose non-elite status has been confirmed. There is a reason why the Mumme Poll doesn't start until next week, everything is conjecture at this point. Check back then when we know more.
  • The NFL, while also enjoyable this season, does not lack for coverage. There are approximately 287873262672691028 articles on the internet right now on everything from in-depth coverage wondering if the Jets will deploy Darelle Revis in a nickel package on Wes Welker this Sunday or if they'll waste him on Deion fucking Branch on the outside, to page-hit pandering lists on which teams should sign TO. If you understandably don't want to read this, you can prolly turn on an ESPN channel right now and hear a couple people arguing over WHO IS MORE FOR REAL, THE BILLS OR THE LIONS?
  • Baseball is baseball and thus best consumed in 3 minute highlights. Oh the Tigers beat the Yanks to go to the ALCS? Cool. CC Sabathia came in as a reliever? Huh. Interesting.
Combine all that with the fact that I'm a huge fucking dork when it comes to this shit, and allow me to provide my two cents on college realignment to this point. Because reading paragraphs on this situation will make you either fall asleep at your keyboard or switch over to porn, I'll keep it brief and in bullet-point form:

What we know at this point:

  • Texas A&M, pissed that Texas has their own TV network, left the Big 12 for the SEC. Their students/alums allegedly chanted "SEC" at summer graduation, a full month before this move was confirmed. Safe to say they'll be a solid fit culturally in their new conference.
  • The Big 12 avoided destruction for the second straight year because the Pac 12 didn't want the baggage that came with Texas' huge TV contract. Texas and Oklahoma (and thereby Oklahoma State and Texas Tech, who are attached to their in-state counterparts) crawled back to the Big 12, hat-in-hand.
  • The ACC decided that they needed more 7-win football teams and nabbed Pittsburgh and Syracuse from the Big East. Knocks aside, this was a good move for the ACC. They were proactive and raided the Big East to protect themselves from being poached. In the process, they essentially killed the Big East as a football conference, of which we will be eternally grateful.
  • The Big 10 decided that they are content with large, academically strong state schools and god-awful boring as shit football, and are staying pat at 12 members.

So where does this leave us? The Pac 12, Big 10 are solid at twelve members. The ACC has 14 members, and will likely pick off the carcass of the Big East when it officially folds, pick up UCONN and someone else, and become a basketball mega-conference. The Big 12 has 3-4 open spots (more on that in a minute), and is likely to fill them with smaller but good college football programs (TCU, West Virginia, Louisville, Houston). For some reason, aka MONEY, Boise State has not been mentioned as a Big 12 possibility

This is a long winded way of bringing us to the SEC, the greatest conference in the land that should have every intention of staying that way. Right now, at 13 members, the SEC is in a state of flux and coaches have been open about their displeasure regarding an unbalanced schedule ("why does Alabama get to play 2 games in Texas and gain exposure there while we play none?") Clearly, a 14th member needs to be added, and for weeks all fingers have pointed to the UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI of all places as the 14th member.

How the hell, did Missouri, as mediocre a football program as they come, with absolutely no regional or cultural ties to the conference get to the point where the SEC wanted them to be invited? Well here is what SEC Commish Mike Slive sees in Mizzou:

  • Expanded footprint into the Kansas City and St. Louis football markets.
  • A strong academic instution, only eclipsed in the conference currently by Vandy and Florida.

Here are my responses to these 'benefits' that Mizzou brings:

  • Awesome. You're adding the 25th and 34th biggest TV markets, neither of which have been college football crazy locales. This outweighs the benefits of bringing in a mediocre program to a conference whose biggest/only selling point is its elite level of football? Add Virginia Tech (DC Market) or FSU (larger footprint in Florida).
  • You're the SEC. WHY ARE YOU CARING ABOUT ACADEMICS?!?!? This is inexplicable. You think adding Missouri, a state school ranked 60thish in the nation is going to make people think highly of the SEC academically? MISSISSIPPI STATE IS STILL A MEMBER OF THIS CONFERENCE, YO. UNIVERSITY OF KENTUCKY. ARKANSAS, PEOPLE. Academics should never be a priority for the SEC as long as everyone's eligible. Hell, I'm in favor of throwing Miss. State a bone and inviting West Virginia over Missouri. At least they're a cultural fit and allow Miss State to no longer be ranked last in the conference academically for the first time, ever.

Luckily, news has broke in the last 24 hours that:

  • Missouri mentions they still want to be in the Big 10 but, for the second straight year, they were rebuffed. The SEC is taking other conferences scraps now?
  • Per, some SEC presidents are bucking and don't want to invite Missouri, citing their lack of prestige and the conservation of traditional rivalries. So there is still hope that Missouri will, for the second straight year, have to go back to the Big 12 with their tail between their legs.

For this to happen, the presidents of UGA, UF and South Carolina will have to break an alleged pact between those three schools will block any new members from their state (read: Clemson, FSU, and GaTech). Clemson and GT aren't likely candidates, but FSU is given their stronghold in Florida markets, program prestige and the cultural fit they provide. UF and UGA enjoy being the only SEC game in town in the fertile South Georgia/Northern Florida recruiting area, and don't want to share this area.

  • Similarly: While Texas A&M is not that much better a program than Mizzou, that will improve. A&M can now go into a recruit's house and say "Want to play in the best/most televised/pro ready conference in the country? Want to stay in Texas? Then you've got one option, son." While more SEC schools (specifically LSU, Arky, Bama) will benefit from this move as well, expect A&M to start nabbing recruits that were Longhorn locks two years ago.

Bottom line: The SEC is the premier football conference in America. This is a source of pride among southerns (see SEC Chant), as there are not too many areas in which the south is head and shoulders above the rest of the country. The SEC should stay that way. Add FSU, West Virginia, VaTech, or make a godfather offer for Oklahoma or Texas (if you have to take Okla State/Tex Tech and go to 16 so be it. Personally, I think Okla/Texas enjoy being the top dogs in a conference of ACC-level schools and are too scared to come to the SEC, but whatever). Just don't add Missouri. The shoe doesn't fit.

Enjoy the actual, real football action this weekend.

(Ed. Addendum: I am not naive enough to ignore the reality that money drives all, and that Mizzou will continue to be pursued as long as it makes financial sense to the SEC. I am also not one of those fans that views the Tennessee-Bama rivalry as sacrosanct and must be conserved at all costs. I simply feel that by adding Virginia Tech, you expand into a bigger, more profitable market and add more eyeballs to your product. Ditto, although to a lesser extent for Florida state. While I'd love to see West Virginia as well, I realize they do not help this league in the TV households category.)


J-Rock said...

If Texas A&M and Missouri join the SEC, they will certainly be in the west side of the conference. Who comes to the east to balance things out? Word is, Vandy to the west, and the two Alabama schools to the east. Not good for UGA schedule losing Vandy and adding Bama.

Joe Friday said...

Yeah, to be honest, I couldn't even tackle the new division structure because almost nothing makes sense. You either make the East waaaaaay to stacked (Bama, Auburn, UGA, UF, SC, Tenn) or start doing some weird geographical stuff, like you mentioned, moving Vandy Westward.

Hopefully, the SEC will just add VT or FSU and the divisions can stay as they are, with A&M joining the West and FSU/VT the East. I feel like with the divisions and scheduling logistics, the Presidents are starting to realize adding Mizzou brings more headaches then benefits. We'll see.

Osama Bin Jammin said...

Rutgers, to nab the NYC market?

For a litany of reasons out there, some of which were outlined below, Texas will never join the SEC. Don't forget A&M's primary motivation for leaving the Big 12 in the first place.

You have to wonder, now that Texas has agreed to share its revenue evenly and not broadcast high school (READ: RECRUITING) programing on its network, does A&M regret making the move?

On second thought, only an idiot would wonder that.

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