The last time they stopped playing the conference realignment musical chairs and everybody scrambled for a seat, the SEC had 14 available chairs. One year later, the question is no more “if” they’ll play another round, its “when” will they put the next two chairs in the circle?
As it stands now, SEC commissioner Mike Slive is going with an 8 game SEC schedule with the format of 6-1-1, however coaches like Nick Saban are for the 9-game model which of course makes the most sense. Logic, though has never been what dictates these decisions when it comes to college football.
The thing is the SEC has to go to a 9-game format because the SEC will expand to 16 teams from its current 14. Everybody knows that a 16-team conference was the plan from the get go. Texas A&M and Texas would join the SEC west and Florida State and Miami to the SEC east, but things didn’t quite pan out that way…at least yet. Its no secret that 16-team super conferences will happen, but what could be more important is that the SEC may be the first major one that will lead to a chain reaction, creating four among the Big 12, Pac-12, and Big Ten.
Asking who the SEC expansion candidates isn’t just asking what the biggest television markets are- its more so about where the biggest and most powerful fan bases are. With the upcoming SEC network on the horizon for 2014, strong television markets are unquestionably in sight for expansion, but I would argue that the strength of university fan bases are more important because of the willingness of fans and alumni to travel to away games. Commissioner Slive has to determine which fan bases are the most powerful, rather than just look at sheer TV numbers. Fourteen was just a convenient stopping point while the realignment smoke cleared- lets all just accept that, shall we?