I had a great idea -- okay, so it was mostly PodKATT's idea -- okay, so it was entirely Pod KATT's idea -- to ask a few questions about the possible expansion of the SEC to include Texas A&M and then kind of get everyone's opinion about it for some sort of wrap-up piece.
Here goes. I will update as responses from AOG's award-winning* staff become available.
Texas A&M to the SEC: Yes or no? (Your preference, not whether you think they'll become a member or not)
KingJamesIV: Yes. If anyone other than the Big 12 + (-2) gets them, it must be the SEC. They're passionate. They use "y'all" (which should have been the sole criteria upon which realignment was determined. ( "If you say 'y'all', you go to SEC. If you say 'brah', you go to PAC-10. If you say 'pop' or 'you guys', you go to Big Ten." Problem solved ). Most importantly, Texas A&M isn't afraid to play with the big boys. C'mon Longhorns. How cowardly can you be? Even Vanderbilt laces 'em up in the SEC every Fall. Plus, you'd get your 17 mill (actually more after we renegotiate) from the ESPN/CBS contract PLUS we have no restrictions on you starting your cute little Longhorn regional network. YOU SAY Y'ALL FOR CRYING OUT LOUD. YOU BELONG TO US.
Vandy Dan: Yes. Texas A&M is one of the few schools that that can virtually guarantee more money for Vanderbilt when it comes time to renegotiate TV rights. Sure, the Aggies are not the Longhorns, but Texas A&M still has a huge following in several key markets (Dallas, Houston, San Antonio). Plus, A&M's love of farm animals, weird military obsession, and desolate campus location make them a perfect fit for the SEC West. Their dog mascot is also a logical fit. As for the Longhorns, while it might be great for the SEC, it does not make a lot of sense for Texas. Texas is one of few schools capable of creating their own TV network. They currently dominate the Big 12, and I assume they would require similar superiority in a new conference.
Train Island: I would take them, though they're not my first choice. Any school with a quasi-nonsensical series of traditions (Gig 'Em, Yell Leaders) and an enormous, loud-as-hell, perpetually-full stadium makes sense playing a game a year against Louisiana State. Some easy rivalries are there - LSU and Arkansas geographically, as well as Auburn in a battle between good teams forced to play 2nd banana within their own state - and expanding to the Houston market makes sense. Are they a perfect fit stylistically for the conference? No, but hell, they're close enough, and the money's there.
Of course, if the Big 12 becomes the Big 10 without Colorado/Nebraska, then this might be a moot point. I'd much rather raid the ACC in an act of payback for what they did to the Big East six years ago. Speaking of which...
If we add Texas, A&M, should we add a 14th team or stay at 13? Or go to 16? Why?
KJIV: Need to go to at least 14, 16 if necessary. We should call this the "Gold War" as it's nothing more than an arms race (over money). The feud over the TX TV market could be the "[Mark] Cuban [TV] Market Crisis". Endless fun. Okay, it ended there. Okay, the fun never started. But seriously. I majored in Mathematics. It needs to be an even number. Symmetry. Or Prime. 13 is not a good number. I'd be okay with 17 if they wanted to go prime. After all, we are the prime conference...
Vandy Dan: Only if there is a good candidate willing to make the jump. There is no reason to force a team like Baylor or Memphis into the Conference for the sake of getting to 14. The primary reason to expand is to increase the presence of the SEC and (more importantly) the revenue for each school. Is an even number of schools desirable for championship games and conference tournaments? Yes, because it allows for even divisions and for every team to be active against a conference opponent on any given weekend. Is it necessary? No. The Big 10 (+ Penn State) is the richest conference in America despite an odd number of teams.
TI: It's got to be an even number, and I don't think there would be a problem finding at least one more team to grab. It's looking more and more like the Big 12 will be recovering, but the possible availability of Missouri and Kansas make them interesting targets, though neither are natural fits. I'd rather extend invites to Clemson (due to tradition, and the fact that Clemson, S.C. is a SEC campus-driven town regardless of what conference the teams actually play in) and Virginia Tech (because Beamerball would be awesome to watch against SEC teams eight weeks a year).
16 teams allows for 1 non-divisional SEC game a year in football, which keeps most rivalry games alive. 14 allows for two, which would help introduce the two new teams to the rest of the league for football season and create fewer scheduling logjams across other major sports as well. Both work for me, but 16 might open the league up to too much change - and why screw with a winning formula?
If we do go to 14 teams, who should the other addition be? (Be as creative as you want; only patently ridiculous answers like UCONN will be laughed at.)
KJIV: Oklahoma would be a serious coup. Getting both OK and aTm would perhaps force Texas back into the fold as an option. It's not a serious coup if it's also not highly unlikely. Next I'd probably go after VA Tech. Entry into Virgina, which is the upper bounds of the South,
and gets you into the DC TV market. Also, sets you up to swallow whole the ACC when we invariably move to a 24-30 team conference/league system.
Vandy Dan: Virginia Tech. The Hokies are good enough to draw a big bowl check every year, while providing the conference with access to the DC market. Like A&M, Virginia Tech could hold its own financially by making the SEC TV package that much more attractive. Don't believe me? Just ask Bruton Smith, who in 2005 offered Virginia Tech and Tennessee $20 million apiece to play one game at Bristol Motor Speedway. It might not be the Red River Shootout, but it is hard to think of many other teams that could generate an instant must-see rivalry like Virginia Tech. Adding the Hokies at the same time as the Aggies would also allow the SEC to maintain the competitive balance between the East and West. Unfortunately, both A&M and Tech would virtually guarantee another loss for Vanderbilt every year, but it beats losing to another service academy.
TI: In order of fit, and disregarding TV markets and overall payout (unlikely, I know), I want to see 1. Clemson 2. Virginia Tech 3. Georgia Tech 4. Florida State 5. Baylor 15. Any of the non-Texas schools from Conference USA 36. Troy 55. South Alabama 67. Iowa State 81. Wyoming 93. Lipscomb 99. Miami.
As far as getting PAID, it's 1. Missouri 1a. Virginia Tech 2. Florida State 3. Kansas 4. Georgia Tech 5. Miami.
But ideally, with A&M possibly coming in to the West, the SEC counters with Clemson or Va. Tech in the East. Easy peasy, now bring on a pair of winnable basketball games each year.
* AOG's staff was recently awarded with this list of questions by cocknfire of TSK. We are very proud of this honor. AOG's staff has received no other awards at this time.