John, you said West Virginia probably wouldn't be in the Big 12 after the end of the current GOR agreement. Do you think there's a legitimate chance they end up in the SEC or is there better fit elsewhere? I know it's too far out to make a good prediction on that, but I'm just picking your brain.
With the Big Ten holding meetings in Chicago this week, microphones and cameras have been thrust into the face of commissioner Jim Delany. Matt Hayes of The Sporting News relates Delany’s reaction to the question of why it’s been important for the Big Ten to add schools located in contiguous states:
“You look at those on the outside (of conferences), and things don’t always hold together. Schools on the perimeter haven’t held together. Arkansas was on the perimeter in the Southwest Conference and eventually left for the SEC. Nebraska was on the perimeter in the Big XII (away from multiple schools in Texas), Maryland was on the perimeter in the ACC (away from multiple schools in North Carolina). It’s not a coincidence that these things happened. But again, I don’t think anyone could have predicted what has happened.”
To quote Alice Cooper, these words he speaks are true. Schools farther from the hub of a league — Nebraska, Missouri and Colorado were not adjacent to the six Big XII schools in Texas and Oklahoma, Maryland was not adjacent to the six ACC schools in the Carolinas and Georgia — are more likely to be lured away by other conferences.
Obviously, other factors are involved other than geography. In Maryland’s case, the issue was money. In Nebraska and Texas A&M’s case, weariness of Texas’ domination of league politics played a role. League strength and wealth also matters as no schools in the Big Ten or SEC — periphery or not — have toyed with leaving their current homes.
At MrSEC.com, we are not believers in fly-over conferences. If schools on conference borders are more likely to switch leagues, what does that tell you about schools located in states that share no borders with conference mates? It brought down the expanded Big East and it will likely bring down the reconstituted American Athletic Conference as well (though smaller leagues have an easier time pulling it off because most big leagues aren’t after small schools). But when it comes to West Virginia’s place in the Big XII? Unless the Big XII expands, that marriage likely won’t last beyond the current grant of rights agreement. This is also another reason we believe the Florida State administration was ultimately wise to gauge the SEC’s interest and then sign on to stay put. Had FSU (or Clemson or Virginia Tech) jumped to the Big XII they’d be just as much of an outside as West Virginia.
As for the SEC schools on the periphery, you can stop worrying. The SEC makes too much money, has too much strength, and its schools work together too well for Texas A&M, Arkansas, Missouri, Kentucky, or South Carolina to look elsewhere.