MIAMI (CBSMiami.com) – It’s not quite Florida versus Florida State; but the Florida Gators will likely be traveling to College Station once every few years to take on the Texas A&M Aggies.
The Southeastern Conference voted unanimously to approve the Aggies as the 13th member of the SEC. For other SEC schools, it opens up the state’s fertile recruiting grounds. For the Aggies, it gets them out from under the shadow of the University of Texas.
But, Baylor University is holding up the move by A&M by threatening to sue the SEC and SEC Commissioner Mike Slive. Baylor’s case will be tough to prove because the other remaining members of the Big XII approved A&M leaving the conference without any legal penalties.
Now, the question is whether an arms race will erupt amongst the remaining conferences. The SEC becomes unbalanced in 2012 with 13 teams. The premier football conference will likely add an extra team to keep the divisions balanced at 14.
That means the SEC will have to turn to either the Atlantic Coast Conference or the Big East Conference to find a new team. Florida State would be the logical choice, but the University of Florida is expected to block any move to bring the Seminoles into the conference.
Clemson and Georgia Tech have also been mentioned as possible targets of the SEC, but South Carolina and Georgia may be ready to block any move to welcome in the Tigers or the Rambling Wreck. The SEC could also target West Virginia if they so choose.
Complicating matters is the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University. The Sooners have been very publicly flirting with the Pac-12 and possibly another conference. Oklahoma used to be tied to the University of Texas, but due to Texas causing most of the current chaos, that’s no longer the case.
Wherever the Sooners end up, Oklahoma State will come along for the ride. If the schools head west to the Pac-12, then the Pac-12 would have to decide whether to stay at 14 teams or become the first super conference with 16 teams.
If the Pac-12 chooses the latter, then Texas and Texas Tech are prime targets for the Pac-12 to firmly establish itself as the premier conference in the country.
That would leave Baylor, Missouri, Kansas, Kansas State, and Iowa State looking for new homes in 2012. Mizzou, Kansas and K-State have been rumored to be targeted by the Big East Conference. While not geographically right, adding those schools would boost the football and basketball status of the conference.
But, all of this is predicated on Oklahoma choosing to move. If OU chooses to stay in the Big XII, then the conference realignment puzzle will shift to the SEC and whether they will add another team. If OU ditches the Big XII, then it’s every team for themselves as new conferences take shape.
Plus, there’s always the question of whether Notre Dame would be willing to give up independence and join a conference. If super conferences of 16 teams start to form, the Fighting Irish will have to make a strategic decision about staying independent, or finally joining a conference.