If we are to believe Mr. Dodds' tweet of CBS Sports then the SEC is down to two choices. Missouri and West Virginia. I'm not going to speculate as to which one of the two will actually get the 14th slot as Missouri's position has definitely become more fluid since I originally made my argument for West Virginia. I will say that the fact they are one of the final two legitimizes my original argument. Further, while Missouri definitely has more eyeballs and a better academic profile, they also bring a few unintended consequences as the 14th member. First, it requires the movement of one western division member to the east (probably Auburn). That leads to A: the loss of the Alabama-Tennessee yearly rivalry; B: opens the possibility of Alabama-Auburn meeting in the Iron Bowl and then the next week in the SEC Championship Game. I don't think either school would look forward to that possibilty, especially after the Iron Bowl has been dubbed the most "poisonous" rivalry in college football by GQ. I live here, I'm not sure the state could handle a rematch without rioting and looting. C.-It also really throws the power balance between the divisions off. The last 6 SEC teams to win the conference were Auburn, Alabama, LSU (West) and Florida, Georgia, Tennessee (East). Pretty much even at three per division. Five of those conference champions also took home National Championships as well. It seems a little unfair to move Auburn east and replace them with Missouri. Tilts the balance of power back eastward. And second, if you read Missouri's SBNation site or look at any of their message boards they're still not clamouring to join the SEC. All the talk is about whether the B1G expands if the PAC and SEC do and could Missouri get an invite should the B1G expand. Check out the writer with ChuckOlivier.net who just visited Missouri. He is an Aubie (I won't hold that against him)- but look at how he explains the response to his visit to College Station vs. his visit to Columbia. Missouri may wind up with a spot in the SEC but a lack of fit seems evident.
Why it may all work out? Good question. If the PAC is going to 16 via the we'll take the Oklahoma schools now and then throw Texas Tech a lifeline for admission attached to the Longhorns eating crow and following them route then the SEC is definitely going to 16 as well. Slive is not going to sit and watch a conference so weak that the best they have to offer this year (Oregon) winds up with an even larger financial edge over the SEC (who happens to hold the team that beat Oregon for the NC last year and opened the season destroying Oregon (LSU) with a good chunk of starters suspended and also has the last 5 NC winners). Further, ESPN and CBS have both acknowledged that going to 16 means the SEC can tear up their current contracts and start over.
So, while I argued prior that the SEC didn't want to be the first conference to 16, technically it still wouldn't be. The PAC would probably beat the SEC to that number by a few months. But, if the SEC can add Texas A&M, Missouri, West Virginia, and FSU, then I think Slive goes for it. The gentleman's agreement will be, as Tony Barnhart put it, all bets off. FSU brings enough national viewership to increase the pie. Why did I plug them in here rather than Virginia Tech? Because FSU has been extremely quiet in their denials. They haven't pasted the number of denials regarding EVER being interested that Va. Tech, or NC State have. Further, if you look at the news regarding FSU, there are alot of empty seats at Doak-Campbell Stadium. Like 10 to 12,000 on average, (the exceptions this year-Oklahoma and Miami). This is a top 10 ranked team folks, and they aren't filling up an 88K seat stadium. That isn't a problem in the SEC and certainly wouldn't be a problem if GA, FL, SC, TN, KY, etc were on the home schedule.
Let the controversy begin.
Ed: Bumped from FanPosts]
Let me start by saying that I am not a Mountaineer fan, but I am a Crimson Tide fan and an SEC fan in general. I inform you of that so there is no chance of my being called a "homer" looking for an invitation to the SEC. I am a "homer" of the SEC and believe that West Virginia is the right fit at the right time to request an invitation to join the conference. That being stated let's go over why I think West Virginia is the probable 14th member of the SEC.
1. While everyone is talking about Missouri, most of us in SEC country feel that Missouri wouldn't accept an SEC invitation unless the BIG 12 completely collapses. They want to be a B1G member and will sit tight with the BIG 12 until that invitation arrives. Like after the SEC has proven that a 14 team conference will work.
2. Yes, there is a gentleman's agreement in place in the SEC regarding in state schools of current members but it isn't Florida that will have to lead the NO charge on FSU. They won't have to. It takes a minimum of 9 yes votes to extend an invitation and FSU won't get them. Alabama, Auburn, and Georgia will vote NO. Add the gentleman's agreement of Florida, South Carolina, and Kentucky and you have 6 of 12 members that don't want the Seminoles in the League. Plus FSU is the ACC's show pony and Slive isn't going to take that from Swofford.
3. The other logical geographical fits have the same problem as above, except they wouldn't be as well received financially as FSU. Clemson, Ga. Tech, and Louisville are all straight up money leeches. They bring NO new revenue to the conference and would be pulling dollars from existing members. Ain't gonna happen.
4. While Slive's dream team involves North Carolina & Duke or Virginia and Va. Tech, neither can be split to invite just one. If the SEC isn't willing to go a season with 13 teams then they certainly aren't going to go to 15. Plus, the SEC doesn't want to be the first conference to 16 teams. We pioneered 12, and now 14, let someone else figure out the 16 team super conference successfully. (Yes I know the WAC did it, that's why I said SUCCESSFULLY.)
5. West Virginia is the only team left that makes any sense. Let me break it down for you.
A. You are a large state university, undergrad enrollment of over 22K with an endowment over 400 million, with no political complications to slow things down for acceptance by 2012. (Last I heard your buyout from the Big East was around 8 million, about 1/3rd of your TV contract for one year in the SEC.)
B. You are a bunch of couch burning crazies who travel great and while your stadium is a little on the small side for the SEC (avg attendance over 56K) it is in the range of Ole Miss and Miss State and is full on game day. Plus with all this new money you can expand at will.
C. You have proven you can be more than competitive in the SEC east, especially in football. You beat Georgia in the Sugar, you beat Miss State in home and home series, split with Auburn and gave LSU a hell of a game last year and they're coming to your place this year. Your Basketball program is top notch and the SEC did a way with divisions in basketball starting this year thanks to my Tide (West champs with wins over Tennessee, Kentucky, and Georgia twice, who all made the tourney, and we still got snubbed for the tourney with the 2nd best conference record). There is value to both of us in this area (you and the SEC). And Luck is your AD and he is a smart man.
D. You bring currently untapped television markets to the table. Yes everyone knows West Virginia is a small state, but you are technically part of the Pittsburgh, PA media market (according to expanded Nielson) and they are the #23 market in the country. That's only two slots down from St. Louis, which is why everyone just loves the idea of Missouri to the SEC. You also put the SEC into Western PA, Southern Ohio, Northern Virginia and did I mention that you dominate the state of WV. You are the most valuable team to the Big East, you're the Texas of the BIG EAST, your just not getting paid for it. Further, you provide the SEC with a buffer to the B1G (whatever the hell that's supposed to stand for.)
E. You keep the divisions balanced for the time being while leaving room, should the 16-team Super Conferences come into being for Slive to approach the UNC/ Duke package or the Va/Va. Tech package, which allows the SEC to move Vandy to the Western DIvision. This cleans up the time zone issues as Vandy is the only Eastern team in the Central Time Zone. All the West would then be central and all the east, eastern.
F. You've been a big tease for over 20 years. In 1990, when the SEC under Kramer looked to move to 12 teams you gave the SEC a booty call. You did it again in 2010. The timing, like with A&M, just never seemed to come together. The public report of team evaluations done in 1990 had you as the team should South Carolina decline and rejoin the ACC. It's actually in print so google it. If South Carolina had passed then you'd have been in the SEC for more than 20 years now. I think the SEC takes you up on your booty call this time.
G. Academics, the problem every time WVU gets brought up. I have been told, but need some of you fans to verify it, that as of the 2011-12 rankings you've been classified as a Tier I university. That is the same as most of the SEC. Further, your medical school is now top 50 and your law school top 75. If that is correct then it is no longer an issue.
The tweet from someone in your athletic department about moving from the Big East led all of you to believe that the SEC was going to take an ACC team and that you were going to get an ACC slot. I believe you're not going to get an ACC slot, your going to go after the SEC slot and that nothing is there to prevent you from taking it. Tell me how you, as fans, feel. It took A&M almost two years to untangle themselves from the Big 12 just ot request the forthcoming invitation, how long will it take you to untangle yourselves from the Big East?