Talk of Conference Realignment Continues
Anyone who says that 2020 hasn't been the craziest year of their life is either lying or been taking the most extended nap since Rip Van Winkle's snooze. These last eight months have given us more than anyone wanted, and there's still much more to come before it's over.
Among all the social issues and health concerns accompanied by countless debates, add to these talks of conference realignments in college football.
Any talks of the last pale in comparison to the critical issues we as a nation are facing, and it doesn't seem very sensible to even mention at this time, but considering this is a sports page, and realignment is sports, here we go.
The Southeastern Conference last transformed in 2012 when Missouri and Texas A&M joined the league. While there were talks of other teams at that time, those two former Big-XII members made the final cut.
So if the SEC did decide it was time to move forward with new members, who would it be?
There could be multiple contenders, but every logical answer appears to have roadblocks that would stop them.
Both Miami and Florida State have been discussed in the past, but now that both reside in the ACC and neither can topple Clemson, there's little likelihood that either would entertain this move. Likewise, it's unlikely that Florida would allow either in this time around.
Virginia Tech is an intriguing possibility considering that there are no current SEC teams in their state. It would be a way for the SEC to dip into another market where recruiting has become a hotbed.
While there could be other considerations here, it's improbable that any would be a stable fit, or want to make a move.
Texas has been mentioned, but unless Oklahoma were to come with them, I don't see any real reason for the Longhorns to move. Likewise, the Sooners are the dominant program in this conference with Texas, a distant contender, so there is no reason for them to want to jump into the dogpile that is the SEC.
Other than the Longhorns, there isn't any program currently residing in the XII that makes sense, and Texas A&M would likely oppose anyone from the Lone Star State that doesn't call Austin home.
Central Florida is a program that has seen its star rise, and they have certainly not been shy about calling out the SEC of late. However, they have only football to hang their hats on, and the SEC isn't likely to find the appeal of adding inadequate programs in basketball and baseball to the conference.
Cincinnati is a program that's also rising, as evidenced by inclusion in the most recent AP Top-25 poll released this week. Adding them to the SEC would allow for entrance into Big-10 country for recruiting, but then the top conference teams are already able to do that with some success. Also, the television market would be ripe for this move, but the Bearcat's other sports aren't quite up to the level that the conference might want.
Memphis has been an exciting team in recent years, but with Mike Norvell now off to Florida State, what will the Tigers do in the future? Their basketball program with Penny Hardaway at the helm would make them an intriguing possibility, but for the fact that the rivalry- bordering on hatred- between them and Tennessee might cause the Volunteers to balk at adding a third team in their state. Vanderbilt could also join them in objecting.
While there could be some other potential candidates, none seem right for where the SEC is at this moment.
Of course, this is 2020, and as we have seen, anything is indeed possible, so bring on the Tigers, Bearcats, Hokies, so that there is an uneven number while we're at it.