Conference expansion is coming to the SEC. Write it down. As sure as gas prices will rise this summer, the SEC will be welcoming new conference members within the next two years. A week after War Eagle Atlanta's in-depth look at the ramifications of such a move, SEC Commissioner Mike Slive said late last week that the conference would move quickly should the Big Ten decide to expand from its current 11 teams.
Considering that train has already left the station, it's now just a matter of who and when for the folks in Birmingham. On Saturday following Penn State's spring game, legendary coach Joe Paterno urged the Big 10 to move to 14 teams. Some expect them to move to 16 schools.
Count me among those who believe it's a bad idea. With names like Texas and Florida State being thrown around as new members, how hard will it be for the SEC to compete for championships? Considering the string of titles the conference has reeled off in recent years, maybe it won't be that hard. I'm not so sure.
With a long-term multibillion dollar television contract and the last four national champions living under its roof, why would the SEC want to tinker with success? The short answer is money or better yet, greed.
At the end of the day, it all comes down to television viewership, which results in more money for everyone south of the Mason Dixon Line. Pulling in the Dallas, Houston or Miami markets will guarantee the SEC remains on top - at least financially.
Rest assured the Big 12 and ACC will not stand idly by and let their marquee programs just walk away. Because of finances they'll also be forced into expansion and likely be joined by the Pac 10. The chances of four super conferences emerging in the next five years are very real.
This begs the question of whether it's in the best interest of the fans.
Call me an idealist, but the Butler story in college basketball this year was good stuff. Their story made the sport more compelling than at any time in the past 25 years. Super conferences will all but eliminate these smaller programs from contention. We just think the politics with the BCS is bad now. Imagine four super conferences jockeying for bowl position at the end of the year.
How would the SEC go about scheduling? Would the non-conference games become a thing of the past? They certainly would be minimized. So much for all the great cross-sectional early season matchups we enjoy so much. Would they move to a 10 game conference schedule? How would they determine who played who? Would it possible to go almost a decade without facing a conference opponent?
What makes sense financially makes zero sense between the hash marks. Having the likes of Texas, Texas A&M, Clemson, Florida State and Georgia Tech part of a new SEC makes for must see TV. Schools will not be able to expand their stadiums fast enough. Tim Geithner will be looking to the SEC for help with Wall Street.
The football fields will resemble killing fields. Imagine the beating these teams will endure each week. Two loss national champions will become common place. Is this really what fans want?
Count me among those who like things just the way they are now. Why mess with success?