Who joins A&M in SEC expansion?

Should media reports come to fruition and Texas A&M becomes the thirteenth member of the SEC it would throw the league's two divisional format for football out of balance. Who would the SEC look to add to balance the divisions?

Texas A&M is a natural fit for the SEC's West division. In order to maintain balance the SEC would be looking to add a fourteenth team to maintain divisional balance.

Their are two options in accomplishing the goal of maintaining the balance. Add a team from a state to the West and shift a current SEC West team to the East. Geographically there are no real candidates that are natural fits in the SEC East among those teams in the West. The league is unlikely to split Mississippi and Mississippi State; nor is it likely to split Auburn and Alabama. Arkansas and LSU both make the addition of A&M to the West a natural fit and are therefore unlikely to shift divisions.

This makes it very likely that a fourteenth team would need to come from the East.

IMO, it is unlikely that schools being tossed about by the media like Georgia Tech, Clemson, Louisville and Florida State are real candidates for SEC expansion. Those schools do little to add to the league's media footprint and replicate a lot of the coverage region currently in place.

Any school added to the SEC will inherently need to bring with them a football following. Football is the cash cow, and when looking for additional grazing area one must look at football schools that add media markets to the SEC.

When looking at the major media markets in the South which are untapped by the SEC we find that the markets which can be tapped are not numerous.

The DC media market covers areas of Virgina, the greater Baltimore area, and areas of Eastern West Virginia.

Maryland, located in College Park, falls within the DC metro area. Virginia Tech is on the Western edge of the DC region. Given that football is the driving force it is unlikely that the SEC would consider other schools in the area.

Virginia Tech has the better football program and given their fairly short tenure in the ACC is the most likely candidate of the two schools. Maryland has strong ACC ties, and football has slipped in recent years making them a less viable candidate.

West Virginia may be more viable than many believe. Morgantown, WV is located in northern West Virginia, just over an hour South of Pittsburgh. The cities are connected by I79. The radio affiliates, which means WVU has enough fans in the area to support broadcasts, has a large footprint. The coverage area extends from Huntington, where it overlaps with Kentucky's coverage area, north to Pittsburgh. It includes most of West Virgina and spreads eastward into Virginia and Maryland.

WVU would also provide the SEC with a chunk of territory within the Big Ten coverage area, between Ohio State and Penn State. The big question with WVU is does it pick up enough population density to make them a realistic option.

The Triangle in North Carolina is an area that may interest the SEC. The league could insert itself into an area that is dominated by the ACC. There are three schools within the triangle, North Carolina, Duke and North Carolina State.

I cannot foresee either Duke or North Carolina leaving the ACC. Both schools have a lot of history in the ACC, most of it in basketball. North Carolina's recent NCAA troubles in football cannot help them when being evaluated by the SEC.

While adding Duke or North Carolina may have SEC basketball fans salivating, this expansion is football driven and adding a last place SEC East team isn't going to appeal to the SEC's decision makers.

That leaves NC State. State has not set the ACC on fire, and success has been much harder Florida State and Miami became part of the ACC. NC State would get the SEC into the TV market in the triangle, but does not bring a lot to the table otherwise.

My thoughts. Virginia Tech is the most viable option for adding an SEC East squad. Tech definitely qualifies as a team from the southeastern region of the country, and brings that all important football component to the table and puts the SEC in the vicinity of the DC metro TV market.


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