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SEC Doesn't Need to React to Big Ten Expansion

The Big Ten is adding Maryland and Rutgers. What does the SEC need to do in response? Nothing.


The Big Ten is officially adding Maryland and Rutgers will join up tomorrow. It makes perfect sense for the cash strapped Terrapins, who project to make $100 million more by the end of the decade in the Big Ten than they do in the ACC.

The natural question ask in the wake of these moves is what other leagues will do in response. The ACC and Big East will try to replace the departed schools, obviously, but will the Big 12 now feel pressure to expand? Will the Pac-12 make one more run at the Pac-16 plan? And so on.

As for the SEC, it needs do absolutely nothing in response. In fact, it was the Big Ten that was making a response with this move:

"Eventually, it was obvious to us that the paradigm had shifted and it was necessary to start looking," [Big Ten commissioner Jim] Delany said. "Three months ago, we said to ourselves, 'Where do we go from here?' The ACC is at 14.5 members. Ultimately, Notre Dame could someday become a member if they need a 16. Are we going to be passive and watch it?"

Over the past couple of years, the SEC has been taking advantage of new opportunities rather than acting because someone else acted. It's true that Texas A&M wouldn't have been a free agent absent the other things going around, but Mike Slive added the Aggies because you don't turn down a chance to get into Texas when you're plotting to start a conference TV network. He later added Missouri because it was available, is home to a lot more TV sets, and adds a 14th member as 13 is a bad number to work with.

When the Big Ten went to 12, it was catching up to the SEC numbers-wise. The ACC caught up almost a decade ago when it raided the Big East for BC, Virginia Tech, and Miami. It later went to 14 first in a surprise move, but it was well known by then that the SEC and Texas A&M were trying to work out terms. The SEC is not a follower in pretty much anything other than the private label TV network business. It's not going to go make a rash move just to have a response to something Delany did.

If the ACC starts to spin apart after a raid by the Big 12, for instance, then the league might make a move if it fits the long term vision for the conference. However, it's in a position of strength. It doesn't have to do anything, least of all adding members just because someone else did.