The addition of Texas A&M and Missouri into the Southeastern Conference has tremendously boosted potential audience numbers living in those states. Residents in Texas (25 million) and Missouri (6 million) combine to make up 10% of the U.S. population, according to the 2010 census. The lucrative Dallas (5), Houston (10), St. Louis (21), and Kansas City (31) markets will greatly expand the reach of Southeastern Conference. There’s no doubt that contracts with CBS and ESPN will bring in huge amounts of revenue. So, we welcome the Aggies and Tigers. Tigers? No, not another group of Tigers.
Throw in Kentucky, Georgia, and Mississippi State and its’ raining cats and dogs in the Southeastern Conference.
The Boys in Birmingham want increased television revenue, but please, no more cats or dogs. Okay, if we have to play along, let me suggest my idea for realignment of the newly expanded Southeastern Conference.
Cats & Dogs Original Thinkers
Mississippi State South Carolina
Missouri Texas A&M
You might be wondering why Tennessee is in with the Cats and the Dogs. Well, “Smokey” is the Volunteer mascot. Furthermore, somebody has to change the litter box and let the dogs out. Who better than a frontiersman with a coon skin cap and a musket? He’s equipped to keep the animals in line too. I can’t possibly suggest that Commodore Vanderbilt stoop to such a level. His SAT scores are far too high.
Seriously though, is it too much to ask for some fresh nicknames? And don’t forget that one of the most talked about teams if the league were to expand to 16 is none other than those Clemson Tigers. Bring it and pencil them into the “Cats and Dogs” division. I’d like to suggest Virginia Tech, who would also bring the nation’s 9th largest TV market, Washington D.C. into the “Original Thinkers” division. Adding Blacksburg to the travel itinerary will somewhat lesson the repeated hits on what it takes to get to Starkville. And who doesn’t want to add the “Hokie Pokey” to the Southeastern Conference’s ever increasing list of traditions?
I also have a solution if the Boys in Birmingham reject my previous suggestion. Let’s just request that the Auburn nickname be forever known as the “War Eagles’. We’ll also fire out a request that LSU change their nickname to the “Bayou Bengals”. Let’s face it, they’re both much more original than “Tigers”. Let the new kids on the block, Missouri, serve as the conference’s official “Tigers” representative. Consider it a welcome to the neighborhood gift.
With the obvious interest in securing additional television revenue, I think the conference should extend an invitation to North Carolina. I know, I know, they’ll never accept. Still, think about the potential of adding the North Carolina and Virginia Tech to the league. Those television markets in Washington (9), Charlotte (23), and Raleigh/Durham/Fayetteville (25) would make for a nice increase to the overall value of the television contract. Again, North Carolina won’t happen.
But, enough with the cats and dogs.
Mark McLeod is the host of “The Mark McLeod Show” and covers Gators football, recruiting, and baseball for ESPN Radio (Gainesville/Ocala). Mark is a member of the Football Writers Association of America. You can follow him on Twitter at @McLeodLive.